Flashpacker or “Real Backpacker?”

An article that was published recently on BootsnAll got people talking.

In his article, “Is flashpacking killing the art of backpacking?” Paul Dow draws a pretty sharp distinction between what I’ll call “old school” backpacking and the kind of backpacking that more travelers are doing these days – the kind that involves things like bringing a laptop on the road or staying in a budget hotel now and then instead of a hostel.

Between the comments on the post itself and the comments that got posted on Twitter, there was some healthy discussion and debate – and let’s just say that not everyone agrees with Paul.

BootsnAll member Beachcombers posted the article on the BootsnAll message boards, and clearly takes issue with what Paul’s saying. The article has generated a lively discussion on the boards, too, from those who think it was just one person stating his opinion and attempting to start a conversation – to those who think the article was downright judgmental and offensive.

Which side of the debate will you come down on?

Read the article that started the whole thing, and then weigh in with your two cents (or more) on the thread in the BootsnAll travel community.

Posted by | Comments (10)  | November 21, 2009
Category: Notes from the collective travel mind

10 Responses to “Flashpacker or “Real Backpacker?””

  1. Ted Beatie Says:

    Interesting article, and there are definitely some worthwhile points to ponder. Always being plugged into an iPod for example *does* separate you from the world you’re ostensibly trying to connect with. But having one with you, or even a laptop or iPhone? They are tools. As such, they can be used wisely and appropriately, or not. Being able to write an article, update a blog, or even check a GPS map isn’t a sin, and doesn’t in and of itself make you a less authentic backpacker.

  2. Paul Says:

    “My backpacking is better than yours”. No arguments here. If you can afford “flashpacking”, socializing is not your thing, prefer comfort over adventure- than go for it. Many men , many minds. Whatever works for you. Don’t be a “backpacking snob”.

  3. Tim Says:

    Everyone has their style, thats the beauty of backpacking, you can execute it with a twist, just like life, live it how you want to, in your own style.
    Viva backpacking
    Viva the identity alignment within backpacker circles
    Viva expression
    Viva la vida

    tim @ whatsabackpacker.blogspot.com

  4. Scarlett Says:

    I’m currently travelling the world as a flashpacker, and I agree with some points of the article, but for the most part I think I’m getting as much out of this experience (possibly more) as a backpacker would. The thing is, why wouldn’t you use the Internet now to look up stuff and plan ahead? Yeah, I’m sure it’s fun sometimes to show up somewhere and not know where you’re going to sleep, but I for one don’t want to accidentally end up at a hotel full of cockroaches because I didn’t bother to check the reviews. And it’s nice to stay in touch with people back home so that I know I’ll still have friends when I return home years later! People borrow my laptop all the time and say they wish they brought theirs. Let’s face it, we don’t want to live without technology nowadays!
    That being said, I agree that there is something more exciting about travelling without plans and without having to worry about your gear. But not having stuff is not going to help you experience the local lifestyle more! Whether you’re a flashpacker with means or a broke backpacker, getting the experience of the local culture etc is about how you do things on your trip, not what you’re carrying around with you. Are you taking time to try to talk to local people who might not speak your language? Are you eating at places they would eat, even if you might get sick? Are you hiring a local tour guide to take you around to see things you wouldn’t see in a big tour group? That to me has more to do with “authentic” travel than what you’re carrying or how much you can spend on a hotel!