What Is A Flashpacker Anyways?

Friday, December 5, 2008

In the recent, never-ending quest for coining terms and applying sub-labels to every conceivable noun in the English dictionary (why is this, are there really too few words in the English vernacular that we need to keep expanding it?) a new term has quickly risen in the category of travel: flashpacking.

I actually first heard this term back in early September when someone during a lecture asked the Frugal Traveler from the New York Times whether he’s heard of the term, to which he responded with a dumbfounded shrug. I never had either, but I was hoping it had something to do with nudity and travel, but alas, the real definition, or phenomena, has a far more banal meaning. It’s simply describing older travelers (read: over 29) who travel cheap and gravitate towards hostels.

As this article points out, the term apparently came from Australia where “flash” translates into “stylish” from Aussie. The article also ridiculously goes on to attempt to describe flashpackers as those who prefer to travel with gadgets and those who “seek accommodations with free Wi-Fi.” Right, as anyone who’s traveled in the last five years can attest, there are noticeably very few people who use “gadgets” or who like to use the Internet when traveling, so this rare subset of travelers, due to their scarcity, is in desperate need of a label.

Yeah, kind of ridiculous. During my last trip it was hard to come by someone who didn’t have a netbook, digital camera, cell phone, or at least needed to check the Internet at least once a day. Also, the age-range in my hostels ranged from 2 to 72 with no discernible concentration of rich over-29ers who were slumming it up when they could’ve easily been staying at the Sofitel instead. Well, I’m quickly approaching 29 myself, so I suppose I’ve got another year to enjoy being a regular ol’ “backpacker” or “traveler” or “visitor” before having to join the ranks of fellow flashpackers of the world. Oh, to be young again.

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