…much like backpacking, but on a slightly better budget and more suited to my current attitude to travel and eagerness to experience rather than just see.
People always ask how long I’ve been travelling, and then often assume I’m roughing it because I’m on a budget. Well, my budget is pretty low but I’m not quite backpacking. If I want to do something, I do it… I’m just careful to try and save money on the less important things like food and accommodation. And I try to avoid dorms.
So, I’m flashpacking.
What does that mean in reality?
It means life on the road is much the same as it is for the majority of long term travellers.
Flashpacking, like backpacking, involves a multitude of experiences which are not always the cultural and immersing ones that we seek. I thought I’d create a list of a few of those experiences just to show that flashpacking really isn’t much different to backpacking.
Flashpacking and/or backpacking is…
1) … wearing the same clothes more than once, sometimes for several days in a row with no shame, despite realising that perhaps those holes are a sign to bin them.
2) …getting used to sweating excessively. Drying out and then getting wet again, and often just accepting that damp is the new black.
3) …having dirty feet almost constantly. Blackened soles, broken toe nails, dusty, sometimes smelly and just simply worn out!
4) …having a disappointingly uneven tan, strap marks on your shoulders, thong lines on your feet, white bits under your clothes or my personal issue – tanned arms and white legs!
5) …having some kind of perpetual wound, most likely from a motorbike, bicycle or climbing injury. It will eventually heal, even if it goes a little septic at some point, but you will be scarred for months or years to come.
6) …owning a pair of fake Ray Bans, Havaianas (flip flops/thongs) or other designer item. You wouldn’t necessarily been seen dead with it back home however.
7) …having to carry your own supply of toilet paper. And having to use it regularly for other purposes – spills, hands, general cleaning.
8) …having to embrace squat toilets and the bum gun! In fact you will probably master the art of hovering over one whilst doing your business and no longer frown at the thought of using one.
9) …having or seriously considering having dreadlocks or braids. You haven’t had a hair cut or had your roots redone since you left home. You may have even resorted to cutting the straggly mop yourself.
10) …becoming accustomed to waiting around, knowing the “5 minutes” is always much longer. There are unfortunately very few places where being on time is expected.
11) …being a millionaire in at least one currency. The exchange rates mean that whatever you carry in local currency, in many countries, will leave a bulge in your wallet.
12) …knowing how to say “hello” and “thank you” in several different languages.
13) …getting ripped off. Be it by taxi’s/tuk tuk’s, money changers or just because you have to pay the price as a tourist as opposed to a local.
14) …being bitten to death by mosquito’s. Even with bug spray on, it is inevitable that you will endure an eating frenzy somewhere along the way.
15) …dealing with flies, ants, cockroaches, rats and numerous other unpleasant virmin. A sign off being unclean and often putting you off eating, staying, or sleeping there.
16) …getting sick and vowing you will never eat from a street vendor again… until the next time…
17) …being so used to using the entire room during a shower that a western bathroom seems so small and contained in comparison, and the constantly wet floor almost feels homely.
18) …having to say goodbye to people time and time again, knowing you will probably not meet again even though you/they are adamant that you will. It never gets easier, unless of course you are not human.
19) …accepting less than clean sheets or having to use a towel the size of a flannel to dry yourself. Knowing it’s not necessary to carry your own, you often wish you had.
20) …wondering why your bag is so heavy and promising to pack less next time. You’ve a list of must have’s and tips that you could share with others who may be new to packing light, but you will no doubt make the same mistake again.
21) …owning a tank top that you thought was a great purchase at the time, at a full moon party, tubing or just because you needed one. Then continuing to wear it with quiet pride.
22) …seeing poverty. Assuming you are travelling to a third world country then be prepared to see how the other half live – this is not always easy to deal with.
23) …missing home/feeling lonely. Everyone gets home sick, although not everyone admits it. Whether you’re travelling solo or with someone else, there will be times when you feel lonely because you are thousands of miles from home without your support network, in a country that isn’t familiar to you. It’s natural.
24) …eating pot noodles in your room or crackers on a bus. Your budget means you can’t always stretch to a proper meal, or you’re on the road so much it’s not practical to stop to have a decent bite to eat.
25) …never wanting to stop. OK, so there are a few not so nice things about travelling, and they sometimes get you down. But none of them are enough to make you want to stop, go back to life’s creature comforts and the daily 9 to 5 grind! Or are they… have I missed anything ;)?