“Main udna chahta hu, Naina. Daudna chahta hu, gir bhi chahta hu, bas rukna nahi chahta” (I want to fly, Naina. I want to run and also fall but I just don’t want to stop).
Cliched as it may sound, after fourteen months of staying indoors, almost each one of us (travel lover or not) will be able to appreciate and resonate with Bunny’s tenet. Oh! how we are dying to take that long-overdue vacation and revive our Instagram feeds with gorgeous shots of exotic destinations. And this time, after a long break, when we do hit the road – it will be in style!
We all know what backpacking is, but have you ever heard of the term ‘flashpacking’? An upgrade from the stringent budgets of backpacking, flashpacking is becoming the new favourite of young millennials who wish to expand their exploring budget to traverse the unknown, with an added touch of comfort and luxury. Read on to know why flashpacking is worth your money, the coolest destinations to flashpack in India and how you can ‘flashpack’ on a backpacking budget (irony, much?)
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What is Flashpacking?
Urban dictionary describes flashpacking as “a backpacker with better budget – independent travellers with money to spend.”
A bigger budget and the zest to explore the known and unknown with luxury is what differentiates flashpackers from backpackers. Flashpackers will choose to stay at a boutique hotel over a hostel and spend more money on food by visiting the location’s best food chains.
Backpacking vs Flashpacking: A Personal Anecdote
Backpacking is heavily romanticised by young travellers and for all the right reasons. Crashing at a stranger’s house, trying the local flavours and bites, befriending fellow travellers at the hostels, sharing rides with them to split the costs, exploring the unexpected – I can go on with the pros of backpacking.
However, it is difficult to ignore the cons. Imagine coming to your hostel after a tiring day of touring only to share your room (and your sleep) with a loud snorer. Or finding out from the locals that the street food you had this evening was not exactly as authentic as the shopkeeper claimed it be. Or having to choose between the adventure activities when you want to try them all.
Hear me out, I have been both a flashpacker and a backpacker. And if you ask me, these two are completely different experiences. Don’t believe me? I’ll tell you my story.
It was Christmas of 2020, when being tired of work and staying home for a major chunk of the year, I decided to take a long vacation. And as crazy as it may sound, I wanted to cover both beaches and mountains on the same trip. So, I picked Goa and Kalimpong – two different worlds to be explored in two different ways.
Backpacking in North Goa
Goa was my first stop; I wanted to keep things low-key. Budget hotels and hostels were my safe haven. Not-so-surprisingly, all these hotels with ‘beach view’ appended to their names were at least a kilometre away from the beach. The only ‘view’ one could see from these hotels were those of shady lanes and other hotels with a ‘sea view’ nameplate. On enquiring about the same, the manager grins – “Madam, bas yahi hai beach” (Madam, the beach is right here). Except, it wasn’t!
For the next two days, I chugged cheap beer and ate fried fish on beach shacks. On one of these trips to a shack, I glanced through the surprisingly low prices of cocktails. Tempted, I ordered a ‘Screwdriver’ and regretted it immediately after taking the first sip! I made friends over these silly tales during my trip, discovered offbeat picturesque locations on a scooty and bargained with shopkeepers to get souvenirs for myself.
On my last day, I decided to visit a high-end restaurant. The seafood platter with flavours that melts in your mouth made me rethink the authenticity of the food I had been having all this while. I still vividly remember the taste of the bartender’s special cocktail I had that evening.
The view from my table was pleasant, the total bill amount was not.
Flashpacking in the hills of North Bengal
The next stop, I decided to expand my budget. After all, I was travelling after a long time. “I have earned it”, I said to myself while scrolling through deals and booking a room in Mayfair, Kalimpong.
Majestic chandeliers, breathtaking decor, antiques and art pieces and friendly, smiling faces welcomed me with their folded hands. As I waited for the manager to complete the check-in formalities, I stared at the huge collection of movies, books and games kept for the patrons seated on a cushiony, prim and proper sofa. As a staff member escorted me to my room, I noticed the colourful flowers and artificial fountains. Few steps further, I see this view.
A magnificent view of Kanchenjunga from where I stood. I wondered if any other viewpoint swarmed with tourists would do justice to this. For the next two days, this was where I spent my mornings having chai, and a breakfast plate with a variety of food – English, American, South Indian, North Indian – name it and you have it on your table.
However, my exploration was limited to visiting the recommended tourist places in my car. At one such location we heard people talking about paragliding. A 5 km detour and we found ourselves gliding through the beautiful mountain views.
It was my last morning. I sipped my morning chai, overlooking the Kanchenjunga peak, wondering if I would comeback. While leaving I realised, I hadn’t bought that one souvenir to take home. I looked at my watch and my flight tickets, I had to leave. The hotel manager gave me a ‘laughing buddha’ showpiece, trying his best to complete my trip.
Should You Upgrade Yourself To a Flashpacker?
Well, we can’t answer that for you. Both of these styles of travelling will create varied experiences and memories for you. But it doesn’t hurt to save up some more bucks to get a comfortable sleep, travel with all the luxury, and experience what’s waiting on the other side.
In case you are looking for an affordable yet comfortable chauffeur-driven car rentals in your favourite destinations, you can rely on Savaari’s world class intercity, local and airport transfer services.
Tips To Flashpack On a Backpack Budget
If you are convinced with the idea of flashpacking but not with the budget constraints, we’ve got you covered. Here are some tips for you to save up some money while flashpacking in style –
- Choose offbeat – Move away from the popular destinations and pick lesser-known travel locations. You will find things cheaper here compared to their famous counterparts. For example, plan a trip to Gokarna or Malvan over the heavily commercialized Goa.
- Visit during off-season – Search for the tourist trends during different times of the year and pick a time when people don’t usually prefer travelling in masses. You will find accommodation and activities at a much cheaper price during this time.
- Redeem your loyalty points – From your credit card to your favourite hotel chain, you will find many loyalty programs to be a part of. Claiming these points can get you further discounts, exclusive offers and upgrades on your travel.
- Travel in groups – Another way to save money is by travelling with people. Say you wish to book a sea-facing villa, travelling in groups will allow you to split the bills bringing the overall expenditure down.
For exclusive discounts and offers on your next local and outstation car rental services, download the Savaari cab booking app.
Where to Flashpack in India?
While you can go flashpacking anywhere in the country, here are some of our picks –
Rajasthan – The land of majestic forts and enchanting palaces, Rajasthan is a dream for flashpackers. From luxury hotels like Umaid Bhavan, Neemrana to traditional restaurants like Chokhi Dhani, Rajasthan has a lot to offer. Befriend the camels in Camel Breeding Farm in Bikaner. Try the hot air balloon ride in Pushkar/Jaipur
Kashmir – Quaint Shikaras, high-end boutique hotels overlooking the pristine gardens of Srinagar, Kashmir is the place to flashpack. Try your hands on snow activities like skiing in Gulmarg and Sonmarg and visit the picturesque villages surrounding the Kashmir valley, when you are here!
Agra – Book a luxury stay in Agra to experience the architectural beauty of the Taj Mahal with your loved one. Travel to the lesser-known forts and palaces from the Mughal Era and hear the stories of the past from a guide. For an experienced chauffeur to drive you around places in Agra, you can book a cab in Agra with Savaari.
Kerala – Go for the backwaters stay and pamper at the spa retreat to give yourself that well-deserved break from work. A road trip across Kerala will take you places unknown to many. Experience the quaint beaches of Varkala and the aromatic valleys of Munnar with your travel buddy.
Are you a flashpacker or a backpacker? Let us know in the comments below!