Like backpacking, for grownups.
What Does it Mean to be a Flashpacker?
- We travel light but luxurious.
- We use travel to build perspective by meeting people and visiting wondrous places that are off the beaten path.
- We understand making memories is possible by having experiences, not chasing a bucketlist.
Flashpacking implies a level of comfort, convenience and luxury that you might have a hard time imagining in a Nature or adventure travel experience. A flashpacker isn’t focused on super rugged, difficult and taxing trips. We want to appreciate the way and find meaning to the wondrous people and places we visit.
If your idea of heaven is to park yourself at the beach at an all-inclusive resort, flashpacker travel might not be for you. And that’s okay!
TL;DR: Top 4 Flashpacking Destinations
What does it Mean to be a Flashpacker?
1. Everything in Life is a Trade Off
2. Flashpacker Travel is a Tool for Perspective & Meaning
3. Flashpackers Tread Lightly on this Earth
4. Appreciate the Way
5. Movement is Life
6. Chance Encounters Make the Best Memories
7. Freedom is not Chasing a Bucket List for a Flashpacking Traveler
8. Happy to Pay for Experiences, Insights and Convenience
9. Flashpacking Travel Possibilities
Venice: Dolomites in the Summer
Amsterdam: Rhine Castles Trail
Lisbon: Fishermans Trail Portugal
Barcelona: Camino de Santiago
10. Flashpacker Travel Tools
Everything in Life is a Trade Off
Hardcore hiking budget backpacker or luxury massages on the beach vacation.
We are all subject to the pitfalls of cognitive biases that inform a majority of our thinking. One of the strongest heuristics is the all or nothing phenomenon of “black and white thinking”.
Flashpacking is the middle way.
Flashpackers understand that sometimes a bit of struggle makes life so much sweeter. Doesn’t food taste so much better after summiting a mountain? Even wine tastes smoother with a new friend in the central Italian plaza, even with broken English and google translate to communicate our love of the ocean and thin crust pizza.
We love our devices and the democratization of knowledge and navigation help, but we’re aware that sometimes we must cut ourselves off from our data plans to engage with what’s all around.
Flashpacker Travel is a Tool for Perspective & Meaning
We don’t manage expectations, we try not to have them. And often we fail, but we start again with observation.
Flashpackers don’t travel to see famous monuments, we travel to experience them.
Flashpackers are travelers, not tourists.
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Flashpackers Tread Lightly on this Earth
Back to #2 – everything’s a tradeoff but gaining perspective and supporting local economies by traveling by self locomotion once at our destination makes for a pretty low carbon footprint.
We are enchanted by the less traveled paths.
We support local hosts and tour guides not corporate boards.
Flashpackers rarely if ever check a bag, but we’ll pay more for a direct flight.
If there’s a bullet train, we’re on it.
A homestay on the trail – yes!
We avoid tourist traps – if there’s a guide with an umbrella and 40 people following like a herd of sheep or signs on the sidewalk promoting “english breakfast”, we’ll walk elsewhere with our money, time and energy.
Appreciate the Way
Flashpackers always learn a few words of the local language – even the French appreciate it.
We make time to visit parks and supermarkets – to connect to the true life of a place.
If offered homemade rakia in Greece, palinka in Romania, Chai in Turkey, limoncello in Sicily, schnapps in Germany, etc (every country has its fondness) we always take one (or at least pretend if we’re on the wagon) with a “cheers” and a smile!
Flashpackers thrive learning and experiencing local culture, adventure, food and history. They are all intertwined and worth investigation in context.
Movement is Life
We know walking is a luxury and especially while we physically can – we’ll take advantage of it any way we can get it…urban strolls, full blown mountain treks, seaside walks, day hikes or multi day hut to hut hikes.
We know you don’t have to sit to meditate.
If a flashpacker can nail the logistics in a cool place, we’ll literally walk from one accommodation to the next – either with our stuff on our back, stuffed into saddlebags on our bikes, or with luggage transport.
Chance Encounters Make the Best Memories
We love visiting the stranger things in places – but unlike the kids on the show, we seek out and LOVE the In-Between times.
New friends made on a train ride. A hiking buddy for life from the hostel. Finding a gay friendly castle hotel. Meeting a man carrying a surfboard 500 miles on his back.
Freedom is not Chasing a Bucket List for a Flashpacking Traveler
Flashpacker travel is never chasing a “bucket list” or “instagrammable place”.
We do not believe there’s a travel scorecard or accomplishment – we plan ahead but adapt to circumstances and adapt to what’s in front of us even if it disrupts “the plan”.
We never worry about heavy bags or stuff holding us back from adventures and making new friends. We know where to stow our bags in any city.
Happy to Pay for Experiences, Insights and Convenience
We rent tools to make memories: like a bike, ebike, skiis, sailboat, stand up paddleboard, sauna experience, mountain trikes, rodelbahn tickets, etc.
We rent people’s knowledge: we’ll take the time to research local tour guides who have deep knowledge and stories about the place to develop true insights.
We rent extra accommodations for on the fly paragliding due to good weather or chase fresh powder if the opportunity arises.
We rent time with experts to learn something new – like hunting with the fluffy truffle dogs in Tuscany that look like labradoodles but aren’t.
Flashpacking with Family
Flashpackers are not into segmenting generations, places that discriminate by age are boring.
We don’t overschedule our kids and grandparents while traveling, we take our time to absorb the essence of a place and taste the gelato everywhere we go.
We mandate our kids taste everything at least once.
Flashpackers never ever order chicken nuggets while traveling in lieu of the local food.
Flashpacker parents rejoice when the Korean waitress takes our toddler onto her lap to magically feed her rice with chopsticks so we can messily slurp noodles with chopsticks into our own mouths.
Flashpacking Travel Possibilities
The beauty of the attitude and nimbleness of flashpacking means you can check out the hustle and bustle of some “bucketlist” places or at least use them as a travel hub.
But when it’s time to connect to what really counts, we can throw our carryon into a locker and take our backpack for a week into a Nature or Adventure travel Experience.
Visiting Venice? Immerse your senses in the Dolomites in the Summer
Why it’s Awesome: Flashpackers can hike on an actual trek over the UNESCO Dolomites mountain range that soldiers, refugees and shepherds have passed for a thousand years. We can hike with our backpack between high elevation mountain huts that serve 3 course dinners, local wines and offer barrel saunas on the deck.
Cost: 50-80 Euros per night for comfortable beds in private rooms or 4-8 person dorms. Includes 3 course dinner and substantial breakfast. Packable lunches range from 5-12 euros. Sauna and bathrobes 15-20 euros extra. Stay in Cortina d’Ampezzo the final night for true luxury flashpacking.
Food: Food never tastes so good as after climbing up to 9,000 ft with jaw breaking views in every direction. Dolomiti huts offer an ever changing menu of local favorites such as a 30 year old nuts and cheese ravioli, to hearty soups, vegetable lasagnas and traditional alpine foods like schnitzel.
Visiting Amsterdam? Stroll on the Rhine Between Castle Hotels at Burg Rheinfels on the Rhine Castles Trail
Why it’s Awesome: The Rhine Castles trail meanders along Germany’s most famous vineyards, and boasts a medieval castle, ruin, or castle hotel every 2.5km. The Upper Middle Rhine Valley is a UNESCO world heritage site that let’s you fulfil your Princess Bride dream vacation. You can even walk up a tower that used to launch cows by trebuchet against the French when under siege.
Cost: If you aim for authentic castle hotels expect to pay 150-300 per night for double occupancy with a 4 course dinner and breakfast included. More affordable bed and breakfasts dots the wine villages and cost around 100-150 per night.
Food: Wine, Wine, Wine! Germany isn’t as famous as it’s neighbor France for wine, however these steep river gorges have been lined with vertical vineyards since Roman times. Enjoy “wine automats” along the hiking trail. It’s like a vending machine, but for wine. Germany indulges in “quiet hours”, so don’t expect the riverside restaurants to be open between 3-5:30 pm but they serve amazing, local and hearty meat based cuisine along with tasty salads during lunch and dinner hours.
Visiting Lisbon? Hike the Last Wild Coast in Europe on the Fishermans Trail Portugal
Why it’s Awesome: Amble along dramatic cliff sides on the ancient Fisherman’s Trail just 2 hours south of Lisbon. Walk 4 days from one historically preserved seaside fishing village to the next. Enjoy viewing storks mating grounds, 400 ft seaside cliffs and waterfalls while moving through fossilized sand dunes. Go in November and hit up the local sweet potato festival.
Cost: Options for luggage transport at only 15 euros a day. Very reasonable options are to stay at fancy hostels at 20-30 euros per night, ostrich farm stays at 150+, or bed and breakfasts from 50-60 euros per night.
Food: Savor traditional inexpensive pork, sweet potato and seafood rich Portuguese cuisine. Or scale up for elevated Portuguese dishes with touches like freeze dried cilantro. Stop for lunch on the cliffside in your dirty hiking shoes and eat octopus confit. Fresh croissants, cakes and cappuccinos are ubiquitous. Berry farms with B&bs litter the coast line so a pitcher of fresh pressed raspberry juice gets you ready for the day’s hike.
Visiting Barcelona? Walk the Way of St. James on the Camino de Santiago
Why it’s Awesome: Even atheists love this spiritual journey across the top of Spain from the Pyrenees to the famed city of Santiago de Compostela. The Camino de Santiago has branches in almost every part of Europe and has existed for almost 2,000 years of history and story.
Cost: The main Camino Frances route called the “Way of St. James” is 500 miles and offers stops at cheap hostels, fancy hotels, or bed and breakfasts spaced out along the way just far enough to build a great hunger for the pilgrims meals served each night. Accommodations range from 10 euros a night for dorms to a typical 70-150 per night for a double room bed and breakfast. It’s popular with an older crowd due to its ease, ubiquitous luggage transport, options to shorten the hike with public transport, and massage therapists along the way.
Food: The trail starts in Basque country with its delicious pintxos (like tapas) and grilled meats and moves into Galicia with its excellent seafood, especially grilled octopus. Pilgrims (aka – walkers) are always going through various wine regions. There’s even a free wine tap next to the trail in Navarra in the small village of Ayegui at the Bodegas de Irache wine fountain.
Flashpacker Travel Tools: Minimal but Considered
Our backpackss are the bomb and we dont spare expense, ergonomics or comfort. However, it’s still probably much less expensive than your aunt’s Louis Vuitton wallet.
Car Mattress for next to the trail accommodation
Mountain and sea friendly sports goods
Things that save us time
Anti wrinkle & quick dry clothing
Sarongs that act as a skirt, towel, or shawl
Travel size dry shampoo
We digitize anything that we can to reduce weight.
I hope you enjoyed this diatribe on flashpacker travel and don’t forget to bring some clean dinner shoes for your next castle hotel hiking adventure. You don’t want to bring mud into the dining room!
Please share your stories of your awesome outdoor adventures over on our facebook group Untold Outdoor Europe Travel Planning.
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Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a Germany-based travel writer whose work focuses on accessible adventure and food culture.