Apr. 14 2009, Published 7:56 a.m. ET

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It’s not what you think. “Flashpackers” are an older demo traveler who could afford luxury lodging but chooses budget options, such as hostels because it suits their lifestyle. Hostel traffic is up again this year, and travel experts speculate that it maybe due to this new travel group. (New York overnight guests increased by 9.8 percent, Washington by 9.7 percent and San Diego, California, by 22.1 percent, according to Hostelling International.)

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No one knows for sure, but the term, “Flashpacker” likely came from Australia and combines the term "flash" -- meaning "stylish" -- with "backpacker.”

Some chose their accommodations, i.e. hostels, for social reasons, afterall you don’t make friends locked in your hotel room.

The author of “the Hostel Handbook”, Jim Williams, stressed  that social community is a big part of the dorm type lifestyle.

But the communal atmosphere of hostels leaves many travelers skeptical, particularly Americans, Williams said.


"Americans have privacy issues. If you suggested to most people they were going to share a room with five other people, most of them wouldn't want to do it," he said.

If you’re thinking of  Flashpacking, get the bible of hostels, But be prepared to share a bathroom … and maybe make some new friends.



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