A few nights ago, travel god Ivan Henares discussed on the Pinoy Travel Bloggers FB chat that I was a “Flashpacker.” I had not heard of the term before though I have been known to pack a bag pretty fast, and I do pack a flash every now and then. (obviously I had missed the mark on that one) He then explained it to me.
Wikipedia has this definition:
Flashpacking is a neologism used to refer to an affluent backpacker. Whereas backpacking is traditionally associated with budget travel and destinations that are relatively cheap, flashpacking has an association of more disposable income while traveling and has been defined simply as backpacking with a bigger budget.
A quick Bing search through the web brought me to this website which describes a Flashpacker: “When Backpackers Grow Up or Get Rich.”
Needless to say, my discussion with Ivan left me a little disturbed. Ganoon ba talaga ako?
Di naman Jansport backpack ko, pero di naman siya LV. My hiking shoes are not Prada. And my SUV is not a Hummer.
I never considered myself a high-end traveller. I certainly have my limits over how much to spend on a trip and I am always one to at least consider bargains and evaluate the value of any option.
Among the Pinoy Travel Bloggers, is famed traveler and author Journeying James who is known for his exploits of travelling around the country for P500 (depending on the exchange rate, less than $10) or less per day.
Thinking about it, I certainly can not live on P500/day.
Don’t get me wrong. I admire James and his ability to go to so many places under a tight budget. But it just isn’t me.
I guess at the end of the day, it really is all about how one wants to experience travelling. While I admire those who can do with less. I have my own philosophies when I travel.
There is an expression which goes “it’s not about the destination, it’s the journey.” I can certainly agree with that, which is why I want to enjoy the journey. And part of enjoying is being comfortable and having some conveniences.
I certainly have travelled by bus. Many travellers love travelling by bus. But in the Philippines, I would rather drive and bring my own car. Not to be bourgeois about it. But travelling by public transportation means you are dependent on someone else and their time table… and the one thing I do not want to do while travelling is to wait in bus stops or waiting for a jeep to pass.
I also want the freedom to stop where I want, go where I want, something you can not do or will have difficulty with if you opt for public transportation… again, you are dependent on their routes and their schedules.
Of course for that convenience… I acknowledge that the gas bill could be rather large. But again, I would rather pay for that convenience.
This is not to say that I do not go by public transportation at all. I do. But again, convenience is a factor. So unlike busses and jeeps, where again you are constrained by other people’s time and routes. Taking taxis and tricycles do not have that same restriction.
Travelling by other means is also a factor of convenience… not cost. Travel by boat or plane… its about convenience… and of course comfort.
Contrary to what people assume of me. Food is where I am not particularly finicky. I can eat (almost) anything. I love street food. But its has nothing to do with price. I will eat street food because I want to. Not because I am being cheap.
In fact, I detest eating in fancy places. I would rather eat in hole-in-the-walls, than in hotels or places like Glorietta 5 or Serendra… simply because of value for money. Food being a consumable is a waste to spend too much for.
I have friends who have strange dietary requirements… some won’t eat seafood, some require the food be fried and won’t eat steamed anything, some won’t eat squirmy things. One fellow travel buddy… won’t even drink water.
Then again, I am perfectly willing to splurge on a good steak or lobster without checking with my wallet.
I guess when it comes to food, I am quite flexible. But again, for me I will eat what I want, when I want, depending on what is available. I refuse to be constrained to a budget. be it P50 a meal or P500… ok lang.
I do get extremely annoyed when I am with fellow Filipinos in a foreign land, and before we decide on what restaurant to eat at, they have to calculate and convert everything to pesos before deciding.
Another misnomer about me is that I am very picky about accommodations. People assume that I require a bed, pillows, and air-conditioning. I would not mind sleeping in a tent… for as long as the ground is not too rocky and there is decent ventilation. I also don’t mind if there is no aircon. I am happy with a fan, and depending on the season, an open window is enough for me.
I’ve even stayed in dorm-like accommodations with common sleeping areas and washrooms.
I don’t even demand a clean bathroom (which I hear is important to some people, men and women alike)
There is only one thing I require though. Strong water flow. The worst thing for me is to have a faucet with trickling water which takes forever to fill up a pail or tabo.
Taking advantage of the venue
One of my biggest pet peeves when I travel with a group is when there is an opportunity to experience something, and someone will complain that the activity is too expensive, or they don’t want to pay for admission. You are on vacation for god’s sake… enjoy and relish the moment.
I once went with a friend to Universal Studios in Los Angeles and while I had been there before, I really wanted to go in again. He looked at the over $100 admission and tried to convince me to go somewhere else. I was so annoyed I paid for his ticket too. I was there already, I was not going to let his cheapness ruin my experience. Again, it is about enjoying the moment. I will not scrimp on the experience.
In the past year I went sky diving, hang gliding, bungee jumping (among other things)… each of these costing at least US $150 per activity. Yes, it may be costly… but these are literally once-in-a-lifetime adventures.
Many years ago. I was price-conscious too. I guess you can be that way for food and stuff like clothing. But with adventures like this… I have many regrets with me telling myself “Sayang… sana ginawa ko nung nandoon na ako.” And it is with that regret that today, I will take out cash or credit card and tell myself that it is worth it.
I have taken to impulsive and spontaneous adventures with little planning which makes things more exciting… I planned a trip to Peru and Macchu Pichu in 2 weeks knowing full well that I probably could have saved a bundle had a I planned it out 6 months earlier. But the adventure was all worth it.
I will admit that I am fortunate to be financially capable to pursuing my trips and doing what I want. But as they say… “life is short”. And since I am not getting any younger, I see no point worrying about finances while you are on vacation. If you can’t afford it, don’t even bother going. But if you are there already… make the most out of it.
Don’t live that life of “should haves” and “would haves.” To quote Nike… just do it.