I am now 25 years old. Sometimes, it’s hard for me to believe that I’ve made it to a quarter century as I have only legally been allowed to have a beer in my own country for less than five years. As far as the world goes, I am definitely well into the dreaded “adult” bracket, but don’t get me wrong though, it’s a great age. I can hang with the 21 year olds and not be that weird older guy who insinuated himself into the table, and I can still be respected in a conversation about my stance on the presidential race with those double my age. I guess I have the best of both worlds, and I have really felt that same sentiment in my recent travels in Asia.
Up until very recently, (i.e. my trip to Istanbul and Bulgaria exactly one year ago), I felt that when on the road, the only accommodation option my “kid” budget could accommodate would be a shit hostel bed, bumping heads and brushing toes with fringe members of society.
Hey, I get it, it’s the journey not the destination, but I traveled that dirt road for long enough to finally “value” myself to the point of having my own bed, free of Israeli 20-somethings banging on the top bunk or German trekkers waking up at sunrise to rustle with their Lederhosen and pack their bags.
That being said, and in the attempt to make you think I’m not some haughty douche, I respect the hostel model. I have had countless great experiences staying at them, met people I’m still friends with years later and think they provide people with a place to lay their head who don’t run fortune 500 companies, hell, a lot of them are even nicer than hotels!
But what I’m getting at is I need my own space. Especially now that while I’m traveling, I am in fact working (some of the time), and as we speak…hmm or I write…or as you read? I am holed up in my own hotel room in Ao Nang Beach, Thailand doing just that.
Another difference in the way I am traveling compared to last year is that I really don’t have to keep a budget anymore, ok, ok it’s less than $100 a day, but in places like South East Asia and Latin America, that’s more than enough to stay in a 2 or 3 star hotel (five-star resort on occasion!), eat three square meals a day at a good restaurant, down a few Teddy Brewskis at night and take the occasional excursion. In a hotel, I have my solitude, but when I feel like interacting with members of my native tongue or other solo travelers, I still go over to the local hostel wherever I’m at, grab a chair and have a talk with anyone interested in doing so. I can meet people to go out at night, have access to a hostel’s cheap tours and transportation, but, I get to cartwheel home to my double bed and sanitized toilet at the end of the night (not to mention bring someone else back without having to resort to doing it in the shower or in the hall!)
There has been a term coined recently for a type of travel that has evolved from backpacking known as Flashpacking. What is a flashpacker? There is no definition in the Oxford dictionary, but the general consensus is that flashpackers differ from backpackers in the sense that they have a bigger budget, are slightly more discerning and are usually traveling with a bag full of tech toys like slim laptops, ipads and high quality cameras.
Flashpackers are usually in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties, have finished their schooling, worked for a few years, but still might carry a backpack and prefer off-the-beaten travel. While not staying in luxury resorts most of the time, flashpackers prefer not to rough it completely and might stay at a more expensive hostel in a private room or a reasonably priced hotel room.
My view now is, if I don’t have the money to travel the way I want to, then why go? What fun is it eating crackers from the convenience store for dinner and taking a bus with pig shit on the seats for five hours to go somewhere a taxi could B-line for in 30 minutes?
Maybe I’m just getting older, or inching towards that 1%, but I value comfort, quietude and experiencing things on my terms, if that costs me a few more bucks a day, then so be it, but in my mind now, I’ve roughed it enough to earn the reasonable creature comforts I’m used to at home. And if I’m really traveling 4 or 5 months a year now, I need them for my health and sanity.
I think this pic of my current “work station” sums up my existence right now pretty well.
I think flashpacking describes my current state of mind and reality pretty accurately and I think a lot of the other travel bloggers in my age demographic are slowing transitioning as well. It’s kind of a strange feeling when you really feel over something or are completely ok with “being older”, but, I just crossed that threshold and I actually am all good with it!
Can you remember a certain time in your life when you decided that you just needed a little more “luxury” or comfort in your travels?