Twenty years ago I backpacked across Southeast Asia. I quit an uninspiring job in Los Angeles working for a property developer who had a different cell phone in each of his four luxury cars, and split his time between his bachelor pad in Century City (Los Angeles) and his family estate in Santa Barbara.

Jay Artale backpacking

Me and my backpack in Mae Hong Song, Northern Thailand 2006

He couldn’t understand why I would quit my job to rough it across Asia and tried to coax me out of the decision, but I wasn’t going to be deterred. Backpacking was something I’d wanted to do for over a decade and it had been prompting me to take action, like the drip, drip, drip of a leaky tap.

I’d taken the leap of faith and ventured West to explore and relocate to the States, but East was where my heart’s desire lay. It took me a while to drum up the courage to solo-backpack around Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. But as the saying goes … all good things come to those who wait.

And now after another long wait I’m donning my backpack again – to flashpack.

Jay Artale flashpacking in Istanbul

Me flashpacking in Istanbul at the start of our trip

I’m two decades too old to be checking into a shared dorm, and I have enough disposable income to splurge on a few indulgences while I travel. But I still want that total immersion travel experience that an adventurous backpacker goes in search of, I just want to do it on my terms. I’m a little older than a regular backpacker, but we’re certainly not the oldest backpacker in town. I have a slightly higher budget than a college student on a gap year or a millennial running away from a cube sentence in a corporate conglomerate.

The first time I backpacked there were no cell phones, no social media, and no way to book transport or accommodation online. But nowadays I’m sure every traveller – whether a backpacker, flashpacker, or glampacker counts at least one mobile device in their essential packing list.

So are all flashpackers just a new term for a modern day backpacker? Despite what Nomadic Matt says on this topic Flashpacker topic, I think not. There are still two distinct groups of travellers. Those who have a limited budget and are willing to cut comfort and security corners in order to extend their trip as long as possible. And those who have the disposable income and deeper pockets that provide them with the financial flexibility to extend their trip and increase their comfort levels on a whim.

So here we go … flashpacking our way through Cambodia, in search of the backpacking experience but with a deep rooted desire for a clean bathroom and enough electrical sockets to be able to charge our mobile phone, laptop, and electric toothbrush at the same time.

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