Aracely and I must full-heartedly admit we are flashpackers. Wikipedia loosely defines flashpackers as tech-savvy adventurers who often prefer to travel with a cell phone, digital camera, iPod and a laptop, although none of these is required in order to be a flashpacker. As with other forms of travel, the term flashpacker is mainly one of self-identification. The origin of the term itself is obscure. There are many factors that probably contributed to the development of the term.
Some believe the term was born out of animosity from minimalist backpackers; those that truly want to escape the world and get off the grid. I don’t think this theory has much weight considering the backpacking community in general promotes living life to your own personal desires. But, there is clearly a visible change in the appearance of many backpackers. White ear buds dangling from one’s travelers neck, a camera hanging off a shoulder or even a laptop opened at a local café is now often seen accompanying the large backpack. Some of these items have become affordable to the masses from industrialized countries and provide an easy means of communicating with others when traveling around the world.
The hostel industry has had to adjust by investing in WiFi and other international travel gadget friendly technologies. I attribute these changes to the normal evolution of technology and its impact on humans. A flashpacker is also believed to have more disposable income for adventure tours and desires more upscale accommodations. With Couchsurfing exploding around the world as the most cultural enriching and affordable accommodation, all are able to travel more frugally. Universally, the backpacker’s goal remains the same; experience foreign cultures and lands.
Technology advancements has spurred a great increase in the number of travel gadgets and you have many choices based on your needs and financial capabilities.
As a photographer you can start simple with a point and click digital camera that fits in your pocket. The images can be uploaded via Internet café computers to photo sharing sites such as Flicker, Picasa or Smugmug. A more serious travel photographer can be seen with a larger SLR digital camera. These cameras can be easily identified by their large lenses and over the shoulder straps. An SLR camera produces image files that are much larger in memory size when compared to a basic point and shoot camera. In order to transfer large numbers of images the photographer may invest in a high speed SD card reader, which will speed up the process of transferring images to a laptop.
Laptops & Computers
A laptop provides the photographer with photo editing software that can’t be found in Internet cafés. Once you decide to carry around a laptop you need to consider security and operation. A laptop will require constant battery charging, protection from the elements and a watchful eye at all times. To keep the size small consider an iPad, but realize an iPad won’t have the processing power or functions you may require in your photo editing software. The next size up is a netbook or Macbook Air, but very small and now offering increased processing power. For max processing power and high data transfer speeds you end up with a full size laptop. This might be necessary if you plan on doing heavy video editing.
Music (MP3) Players & iPods
MP3 players and iPods are much easier to carry and store due to their compact size. Music players can offer you some comfort during long transportation. If you desire more interactive entertainment consider an iTouch or Smart Phone, both of which will play video or interactive games. These high tech gadgets can keep you sane traveling on a 12-hour bus ride on partial roads and in blistering hot environments.
GPS devices enable a constant mapping of your travels. With cellular support, your GPS coordinates can be shared with your friends and family on-line. It can also be helpful when plotting your photos on a map or attempting long distant hikes.
Travel Power Converters
Power converters are important for all your travel devices to stay charged and usable. Expect limiting outlets while lodging and consider devices that enable multiple electronic gadgets to be plugged into a single outlet. Another creative device is a solar charger that rests on top of you backpack and charges simple gadgets like an iPod or cellular phone while hiking.
The Internet has become video friendly through the use of video sharing sites such as YouTube and Vimeo. Both websites now offer HD video uploads. If you are interested in capturing your travel adventures on video there are many camcorder choices now available across a broad range of price points. The video camera will add more weight and require as much security as your SLR camera. These high-end gadgets should never leave your side. Consider an individual camera bag or daypack that you would feel comfortable carrying at all times. If you are investing in either device you will want to have access to them quickly to ensure capturing those priceless moments or images. Many cameras now come with video capability, so first decide how functional your video camera needs are before deciding if you need both or just one consolidated device.
Describing all the individual components that exist for transferring, managing and storing your photos and video is a much more complex discussion. Take the safe route and store your memories on both portable storage devices and in the Cloud. The Cloud is online storage, which everyone should be using these days.
You might also enjoy… Choosing the Right Backpack
Since the launch of the iPhone, which includes full internet capability, a music player, email, GPS mapping and an unlimited number of add-on applications, flashpackers find themselves doling out monthly subscription fees for constant connectivity. Whether you want to Tweet, Post on Facebook or connect with a local Couchsufer, a Smart Phone has it all for the backpacking traveler. Consider a phone where you can access the mobile chip. When visiting foreign countries, you may only have to buy a local mobile chip for a few bucks in order to use the phone locally. These can be considerably cheaper than a mobile worldwide plan. If you need to call home often, use Skype on the computer instead. You will save a lot of money.
Gadgets and their technology exist for almost anything you can think of, from water purification to WiFi searching key chains. You have to decide what is right for you. Weather you carry a tent and portable stove or a laptop and iPhone, it shouldn’t matter. What matters is that you are brave enough to throw yourself in unfamiliar settings and go experience what the world has to offer. Good luck!