In a few days, I'll be heading back to Europa, Europaaaaa to visit my family and friends..and I'll be making my way to my 28th country too! I can't wait to tell you all about it soon :) Please pray that I survive with my limited funds..especially since I'll be flashpacking on my own!:)
So, What is flashpacking?
Just because you have a backpack, this doesn't make you a backpacker. By definition, backpacking is more than just stuffing everything into one North Face pack. It's a travel philosophy, it's a lifestyle. It's sleeping in a random train station, hitching a ride with a stranger, and planning to have no plans. If you booked your flight at least 1 month ahead, arranged your accommodations online, and carry a samsonite with wheels...then my friend, you are not a true backpacker. Aww, sorry to burst your backpacking bubble. I suggest you ask someone who's cool and legit like my buddy, Paula Peralejo! She's the all around traveler who knows her shizzz.
As much as I admire hardcore backpackers, sadly, I've never been one. There are two major reasons why I can't do backpacking: 1)I'm OC and I love staying organized and planning ahead, I find that by planning ahead..you save a whole lot of money and STRESS. My being OC is both an advantage and a disease, really. 2)I am a neat freak..hygiene is always an issue for me, so I can't share toilets with random strangers. I don't mind roughing it up and going all out cowboy.. I just dont like sharing private things with people I dont know! I'd rather sleep in the middle of a rainforest than share a bed with some weirdo in a hostel! I've gone camping in the desert in Egypt and in the mountains of Nepal..but I always had my own sleeping bag..and also my own jingle bag! I'm too clean and I'm sure a pain in the arse because of it. So this is why I never ever posed as a backpacker..because by definition, I am not.
I've always been an "independent budget-traveler" with a plan. Now that I'm getting older, I'm leaning towards becoming a bonafide "flashpacker". Flashpacking is the more "grown up" backpacking..it shares the same independent travel philosophy, but this time, allows you to enjoy a few more luxuries here and there..in my case, a clean toilet. Hehehe. Here's an interesting read on flashpacking.
Because I have that 1 issue with toilets, this has caused me to be much more discerning when it comes to accommodations. And trust me, it's so HARD! If you're rich with standards, it's acceptable..but poor, with standards?!? Asa ka pa!! Ang feeling ko noh?! Haha! I spend hours researching for decent digs each and every time I plan a trip. I've probably googled "Cheap and Clean Accommodations" a thousand times! But I always surprise myself, I always find cheap and clean accommodations..I havent been disappointed, yet. A tip I could share with you is to check out travel forums and not the actual hotel websites. Hotel websites will always fancy it up by ten levels..their pictures are meant to deceive. If you check out legitimate traveler forums like Trip Advisor, Agoda or Lonely Planet, you will see actual photos and comments that will help you decide better. Travel forums will also give you helpful info like other hotel options nearby, public transportation routes, promos, etc.
I always book my flights months and months ahead and explore a multitude of options before clicking BOOK. Booking ahead means better promo rates..and the biggest bonus for me: ample time to save up for the trip! You don't need to have a LOT, you should just have ENOUGH. Limited funds is VERY different from NO funds. It's best to be a responsible traveler and to take a trip only if you can afford it..it's not wise to be in a strange and foreign place with no plan and no money. I won't lie to you, traveling is costly...but it actually costs much less than what most people think! I've met people who spend 3x more for a trip to HK than my trip to Europe! No joke. That's why it pays to be patient, do some research and make creative alternatives. Take all the time you need to save, don't pressure yourself to travel just for the sake of traveling. The beauty about travel is that it can be adjusted to suit your personal taste and budget. It's something that's dependent on you. Unlike buying a car, a brand new Honda Civic will cost the same in Makati and Alabang..the price is fixed and you'll just have to come up with the money to pay for it. Travel can cater to you, there's a myriad of choices out there just waiting to be discovered!
Besides, you dont have to physically travel to "travel"...reading a book alone will take you to far and distant lands! Your dream destination will be there waiting for you patiently, a year or even a whole decade from now, andyan pa rin siya..so don't stress yourself out :) In God's perfect time, you and your dream country shall meet..and it will be magical! Naks!:) Hahaha! Here's to more adventures :) CHEERS!