The Flash Pack: Budget accomodation

Young travellers are discovering quality digs that don't bust the budget, says Amy Winston

Since middle-aged professionals first began putting their careers on hold and charging round-the-world airline tickets to their Amex cards in the early 1980s, "flashpacking" has been regarded as the preserve of the more mature traveller.

Preferring lavish hotels to the backpacker's dormitory, flashpackers not only boast an adventurous spirit but enjoy the safety net of a healthy bank balance when the going gets tough.

But for those whose tender years mean a credit rating that may not yet match their boundless imagination, joining the flashpacker ranks is proving increasingly easy. In Thailand, for example, a perennial favourite for budget travellers, luxurious surroundings needn't mean breaking the bank. A night at one of the country's growing number of boutique hotels, for example, costs less than the £40 or so you'd pay to stay in a UK Travelodge. The result is a new breed of younger, hipper flashpackers, a group who are turning their backs on the fleapit dorms of Bangkok's Khao San Road.

"The twentysomething flashpacker accounts for around 20 per cent of our overall bookings," says Nikki Davies, marketing manager for Trailfinders, the backpacking specialist. "These are people who have already backpacked as students and now want to splash out on booking a nice hotel.

"They might not have the finances of a 30- or 40-year-old but in somewhere like Thailand, the jump between budget and mid-range hotels is not as big."

While rooms at a city budget hotel start at around £11 a night, push the boat out to £37 and you could spend the night in mid-range splendour.

According to Dan Linstead, editor of Wanderlust, the adventure travel magazine, the advent of the younger flashpacker is down to the blurring of distinctions between suitcase and backpacking holidays.

"Conventional backpacker territories have broken down," he says. "While travellers are still booking independent flights and exploring adventurous locations, they prefer to stay in upmarket hotels."

The reason for this, Linstead believes, is that today's travellers in their twenties are used to far higher standards of living than their predecessors on the original hippy trail. "A flashpacker pays in money rather than in time," says Linstead, "condensing what a backpacker spends in a year into a two- or three-week break". While a gap-year student might spend more than £5,000 during a year out, a committed flashpacker can get through at least £1,500 in a few weeks.

And the rise of the boutique hotel is giving them the opportunity to do it in comfort. "There are now so many new venues opening in Thailand that we find it difficult keeping track," says Abigail Silver, a spokesperson for the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Among the more well- known is Bangkok's Metropolitan hotel, which opened in 2003, or the city's recently opened Ibrik Resort. With only three rooms, prices start at as little as £40.

And it is not just the big cities that are meeting the demand for high-end, affordable accommodation. Thailand is desperate for visitor numbers to return to where they were before the 2004 tsunami, and budget quality accommodation is helping attract flashpackers back to areas like Phuket, a location once famed for run-down hostels. Silver is keen to stress that while backpackers remain an essential part of Thailand's tourist trade, an interesting development has been the repeat business from those who, having taken the budget path, are returning as flashpackers.

And it's not only the hotels that are helping young flashpackers challenge Thailand's budget stereotypes. Uber-trendy Club 87 is just one of a new breed of bars where Bangkok's movers and shakers can sip cocktails till late without melting their credit cards. Elsewhere, they watch al fresco sunsets from the Sirocco Bar, located on the 64th floor of a skyscraper. With both venues offering achingly hip - and affordable - alternatives to the neon strip bars and cheap eateries, the new breed of flashpacker means the Thai experience is a-changin'.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home