Flashpacker or Backpacker?

Boracay, Philipines

Are you a flashpacker or a backpacker? In my last 15 years of serious travel I have moved from end of the spectrum to the other end and back again.

I have stayed in real sh*t holes in Guatemala, bug infested dumps in Vietnam and run down, dirty hovels in Eastern Europe, all while earning a very hearty paycheck. It wasn’t a question of money but adventure. I liked to try and do it all on my own, to see if I could get to my hotel using local transportation (in India) vs having the hotels come get me. I wanted to know what a Guatemalan chicken bus was like and how I would survive sitting in 3rd class on an Indian train (scary but I did it.) That style of travel is how I learned to rough it and only when going with the less experienced do I trade-up for duvet covers, continental breakfasts and personal drivers.

Flashpackers mainly distinguish themselves by the length of time they can hit the road. These usually a possible short 2 week bursts over the holidays or the very rare but envious sabbatical or the standard American holiday of 9 days (2 weekends + 1 work week). Since trips are so abbreviated, a flashpacker can afford the higher quality rooms without black mold growing on the shower tiles and transportation that avoids direct contact with farm animals.

There are drawbacks to the flashpacker lifestyle. While a 400 thread count is nice, timetables have to be short (as noted above). Why?  In order to afford the flashpacker luxury, one has to have – I dread this 3 letter word- a job! That’s right, the reward for working in a cubicle and staring at a computer screen for 48+ weeks a year is the 2- 4 weeks when the monkey’s get to escape their cages for Thailand, Turkey or Costa Rica.

You can call me a recovering flashpacker today since I have no cubicle to go to and the world is quite literally my office. I have fashioned my life after what I perceived to be the most important, travel. I do digital marketing to pay the bills and guided tours from my travel company, to feed my soul. I do not make buckets of money anymore and I am ok with that. I am happy as long as I get to open up the window each morning and see something new.


$12 a night and 5 minutes from this beach (Boracay, Philippines)






  1. You are brave!!! I’ve already experienced the third-world life as I grew up in the Philippines and I guess that’s the reason why I’m not much of a backpacker. I’m totally a flaspacker and you are right, it can get pricey!

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