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'.

Property
house + home
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Life and Style
Bats detect and react to wind speed and direction through sensors on their wings
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Assistant Manager

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hotel in Chadderton is a p...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living