Are You a Backpacker or a Flashpacker?

Millennial travellers are re-shaping an industry | © Moyann Brenn / Flickr
Millennial travellers are re-shaping an industry | © Moyann Brenn / Flickr
Photo of James Hale
11 May 2017

The world has changed and the way we travel around it has too. While the traditional fixed-term stay in a hotel, resort or villa will always be a hugely popular way to spend a holiday, the habits of the backpacker, the globe-trotter, have changed greatly over the years. The rapidly growing and all-encompassing prevalence of technology has changed the world of travel and with digital natives making up a huge percentage of travellers, entirely new breeds of backpacker have emerged.

Flashpacker | © Soloviova Liudmyla/Shutterstock

Flashpackers – ‘Flash’ and the revolution

‘Flashpacking’. A term used to refer to travellers who, rather than abandoning material comforts in pursuit of a back-to-nature journey, maintain their connection to home by bringing laptops, mobiles, cameras and the like with them on the road. The flashpacker spends slightly more to access luxuries like wifi, their own room and en-suite, and appreciates travelling in comfort.

However, this notion that spending more and travelling with state-of-the-art technological paraphernalia makes a traveller somehow ‘elite’ or ‘flashier’, might not really be relevant any longer.

There are, of course, still those backpackers who will go the extra mile in their spending to splash out on a top-class luxury suite, or the most expensive hiking technology, but the concept of a clear divide between ‘flashpacking’ and regular backpacking doesn’t really apply any more.

It would seem that nowadays, with the world so hyperconnected and once-revolutionary technology now easily accessible, almost all global wanderers are ‘flashpackers’.

The traditional backpacker is evolving | © Garry Knight /Flickr

Digital Nomads

With the traditional 9 to 5 all but obsolete and the sharing economy changing the way we think about working and earning a living, professionals are finding ways to capitalise on their time by combining work with travel.

Enter the digital nomad. A new breed of professional, they capitalise on opportunities to work remotely, often as freelancers. They succeed in seamlessly combining the earning of a pay cheque with travelling the world.

This has become a possibility mainly due to the prevalence of digital technology, in particular the ever-increasing presence of wifi, on the global stage. Regardless of which country you’re in, or where you’re staying, you’re rarely far from an internet connection.

It’s this confidence in connectivity that has allowed professionals to embark on a digitally nomadic lifestyle and you can often find people typing away, against tropical backdrops in newly popular digital nomad hubs, such as Bali’s Hubud.

Digital nomadism could be the future | © Steven Zwerink /Flickr

The rise of experiential travel

It seems that the needs and desires of millennial travellers are a rapidly evolving priority that the travel industry is aiming to address. Times are changing in the world of travel and the industry is finding new ways to cater to new markets.

Most noticeably, travel-opportunity providers are honing in on the sensibilities of Generation Y.

Of these, the desire for experiences over things is hugely significant.

This has changed the way travel providers think about the services they offer – for both ends of the economic spectrum. Businesses like Airbnb have opened the door to authentic local immersion on a budget, while some high-end providers of luxury holiday homes now offer personal concierge services to help their clients source the best local experiences.

Along with experiential travel, a move towards sustainability and economic responsibility has resulted in the appearance of unique travel opportunities, such as the emergence of ‘living hotels’. In addition to this, the popularity of authentic immersion travel has led to the economic stimulation of the communities that have become travel destinations.

The world of travel is changing | © Andrew Smith/ Flickr

Millennials are fast-approaching the peak of their earning lives and it’s clear that they are the driving factor in the way the travel industry is prioritising the new experiences it offers. The exponential rise of connectivity and technology has turned the staple concept of the humble backpacker into an evolving, modernised clientele. As a result we’re gaining access to travel opportunities that are authentic, career-focused and a key to the world of modern exploration.

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