While researching for my trip to Europe I came across this new term — flashpacking. This term defines the new generation of backpackers, albeit with a bit more cash and a tad more tech savvy. These new breed of travelers bring along more gadgetry and stay in nicer digs than the backpackers of yore. But it is not all about the person, innovation in terms of technology and the advent of cheaper air travel has allowed people to travel more than they used to do.
Think smartphone, laptops, digital cameras, credit cards, good quality gear, some lightweight clothes and cash. And that’s about it. Keep it simple!
If you look back 5 years ago, not a lot of people were traveling with smartphones or laptops. Hotels/hostels back then seldom provide free wi-fi. Internet connection at sidewalk cafes were probably unheard of. Nowadays, boom! Everywhere you look, someone is talking through a smartphone, sidewalk cafes are filled with people holding on to their iPads, netbook and the likes. Look around, people are sporting DSLRs and snapping away like frenzied birds. This is the new breed of backpackers, digitally connected and packing some punch.
As I sit and type this post through my iPad (flashpacker wannabe), my wife is ‘chimping’ on the latest 16.2MP Sony point-and-shoot, her MacBook Pro is transferring songs to her iPod and our newly arrived PacSafe bags sits in the corner awaiting our inspection.
We are not the only ones who have changed. The travel industry is changing too. It used to be just hotels for the financially loaded and hostels for those who are not. Nowadays, you can take your pick, AirBnB, couchsurfing, Roomorama or even home-sharing with foreign strangers. There are more tours than there used to be. From hop on/ hop off buses to prepaid traveling cards for public transportation. People are now flying from one destination to another, sometimes it is cheaper than trains!
I feel that flashpacking is an evolving business, gadgets are getting smaller and smaller, packing more functions in one body, what was as common as iPhones today, tablets will be tomorrow. Even for those who are ‘broke’, they could still afford to bring along their toys for the journey. And who said that traveling has to be foreign places?
We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open