Flashpacking – blinged up backpackers!
Flashpacking? What the hell is that? OK, so you know what backpacking is. The dictionary definition states that it’s something done by “someone, especially a young person without much money, who travels around … often carrying a backpack”. Sounds a bit old school, but the key words here are ‘without much money’.
Flashpacking, by comparison, essentially refers to those who travel (and look like they travel) with a bit more cash. Meaning, they’ve tidied up their wanderlust wardrobe, focused a little more on manscaping and explore the world with a few more luxuries. Sound appealing?
Here’s a few tips to take on board!
So we’re not talking some hellishly expensive, calf leather, Gucci knock-off here. You’re not Kanye West after all. However, there’s no need to look like a slacker hobo either. Investing in a good quality duffel bag or backpack will not only help you pack efficiently, it’ll save you wandering around the globe looking like an uncool, over-laden camel. When buying, consider things like extra compartments, durability and comfort (no point buying something that you can’t physically lug around for potentially months on end).
Compression bags can be a lifesaver if you’re really struggling to zip up and it sounds a bit anal, but packing cubes can help keep things tidy as well. Plus, they’re great for storing filthy clothes – Mum will be so proud. An additional day pack that fits essentials like beach wear, a rain jacket, your camera and laptop (of course you’ll bring this if you’re flashpacking) and the odd souvenir is also a good move.
The aim here is to up the ante a bit in the fashion stakes, while not looking like a frumpy, please-rob-me tourist. Essentials include a few pairs of decent lightweight pants or jeans (zip-off options are ideal as you get a bonus pair of shorts as well). T-shirts are fine (but skip the logos, it’s a dead giveaway), singlets are great for layering and pack an edgy, collared shirt or a nice dress for fancy nights out on the town.
In cooler climates, you’ll also need some toasty, long sleeved, casual tops (hoodies are heaven for cold ears) and a decent jacket that’s not too bulky. A waterproof windbreaker is worth spending a bit of money on – it’s great for layering and it multi-tasks. There are even options out there that pack into their own pocket, so they’re super-compact.
If you’re a guy and headed for a tropical oasis you’ll need a cossie, but forget the budgie smugglers (woah!) and 80’s cotton numbers, these days it’s all about ‘hybrid wear’. Quick dry, breathable shorts are ideal for splashing about in, but also allow you to go from pool to pub in a matter of minutes.
Shoe-wise, you’ll need a casual, waterproof pair for beachy climates and a pair of dress-‘em-ups for daytime walkabouts and nights out. Outdoor stores are worth checking out for these as well as they’re no longer just the domain of serious adventurers, they often stock seriously on-trend footwear as well.
And if you’re single and happen to get lucky while gallivanting about, do not underestimate the value of decent underwear. Forget your faded, moth-devoured varieties, flashpacking calls for some quality fundies!
Now to the fun stuff … the stuff that will truly elevate you into the echelons of a flashpacker. The essential? A smartphone. Load it with useful travel apps, music for those endless rail trips (don’t forget your headphones) and consider an international voice plan if you’re going to be phoning home. It will also double as a great GPS, compass, language translator and flashlight. If you prefer your music crystal clear, lug along in a set of portable speakers. Travel-savvy brands are durable, affordable and you can power them up via a laptop, an internal battery or even go solar.
If you’ve got the room, a laptop or tablet’s your on-the-go entertainment solution when stuck at an airport in the middle of nowhere. Use it to update your personal travel blog, organise photos or watch the odd catch-up episode of your favourite TV series. A serious bookworm? eBook readers are the bomb if you’ve run out of luggage space and prefer a lightweight reading option.
Make sure you take a decent camera (especially one that shoots HD video) to capture your trip of a lifetime and if you’re a self-professed selfie junkie, go a Go Pro. Awesome for action shots, they’re super-compact, have large storage capacities and will give your holiday footage a little bit of doco-maker style.
And don’t forget your chargers and adapters! There are truckloads out there that will do the job nicely, just make sure they’re universal or invest in an all in one utility charger for a one-size-fixes-all option.
Fancy a tipple to conquer the jet lag at the other end, but super-fussy about the drop? Then the Wine Skin is your favourite new drinking buddy. This bubble wrap ‘wine condom’ perfectly houses a bottle of wine, prevents it from breaking in-flight and stops those oh-so-embarrassing spills in your luggage.
Your personal safe-on-the-beach, Reef Stash Sandals are the perfect way to store valuables while you’re frolicking about seaside. The secret tray in the sole slides out, keeping your room key and credit card away from sticky fingers.
Consider yourself a true gadget man? Then you’ll love one of these. Styled like a Swiss Army knife (complete with scissors, knife, nail file, pen, screwdriver and light), the Swissbit also has a 1G drive that detaches from the knife casing for confiscation-free air travel.
Lastly, one for the true adventurers. Ever been stuck in an exotic locale, thirsty as anything, with nothing but dodgy H20 on offer? You know how that’s going to end. The SteriPen uses UV light technology to purify water without pumps, filers or chemicals, so it’s great for avoiding unfortunate mishaps later on (and will keep those new jocks super-clean).
And the key to pulling it off as a professional, bona fide flashpacker? Pack light, pack well and wherever you end up around the globe, act like you’re meant to be there.