Flashpacking and automobility

Gareth Butler, Kevin Hannam

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)


    Recent research has attempted to distinguish the key differences between backpacking and flashpacking. However, research observing how both groups choose to travel between destinations remains a neglected theme, and one that may also reveal distinct behavioural differences. This paper critically examines the methods of transportation used by backpackers and flashpackers and analyses how both groups value mobility throughout their respective journeys. While both groups have frequently been identified as being highly mobile, few papers have critically examined the significance transportation choices play in enhancing or fulfilling their desired experiences. Despite suggestions that flashpackers possess far greater financial budgets, most studies have assumed that they travel in similar ways to backpackers. In this paper, the importance of automobility, which is deemed to be a combination of autonomous and self-directed movement, is explored in the context of Norway. Using a qualitative methodology, the experiences of 43 interviewees (26 backpackers and 17 flashpackers) at 10 different hostel locations were recorded in 2009. The findings revealed that backpackers and flashpackers exhibited highly contrasting mobilities, and that previous assumptions regarding how they choose to travel should be challenged.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)739-752
    Number of pages14
    JournalCurrent Issues in Tourism
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014


    • backpackers
    • flashpackers
    • independent tourists
    • mobility
    • Norway
    • qualitative methodology


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