Backpacking v Glampacking | Real Gap Experience Blog

Backpacking v Glampacking

While we’re all unique in our own way, whether you’re a surfer that craves a bit of culture in your downtime or a bookworm with a penchant for paragliding, when it comes to travel there really are only two camps that any of us fall into: backpacker or glampacker. You’d be forgiven for thinking the only distinguishable difference between these two breeds boils down to the practicality of the luggage they bring with them on their holidays, but you’d be wrong. Although with common interests: travel, fun, Instagram; there’s little else these two share. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the two don’t get along though – they may be quite different animals, but it’s hard not to like someone else that’s into travel. On this premise, we thought we’d carry out a bit of (non-scientific, no really) analysis to see how the two differ – which one are you?

Backpacker

A backpacker will typically look as though he or she is prepared for any imaginable situation: snow blizzards in the middle of a heat wave? No problem. Monsoon season descending two months earlier than expected? They’ll have a rainmac for that. Last-minute detour to a neighbouring country because you’re close to the border so why the hell not? Sure thing – they’ll probably have a guide book knocking around in the bottom of their bag for that too. In an unnervingly similar fashion to Mary Poppins’s magical carpet bag, the laidback backpacker is prepared for any given situation because that’s exactly what they’ve packed for – it’s called going on an adventure! You’ll notice them leafing through bus timetables sat with a coffee in the sunshine, feet a bit grubby from a lifetime spent in flip-flops, arms festooned with colourful bracelets from previous world travels (or possibly from the big Primark on Clacton High Street – it’s difficult to tell sometimes).

Luggage of choice: Backpack – did you guess that already? Smart. These come in a range of shapes and sizes and are usually the most practical item in a travel shop. Don’t be put off by the number of straps, handles, clips, and zips – all have a purpose, and once you’ve read the manual a couple of times, you’ll have a good grasp of what to do with all of them. A lot of backpacks come with nifty detachable compartments or day bags too, which is super helpful when you’d rather not have to carry all your worldly belongings with you when you pop out for lunch. Another huge benefit with a backpack is that most tour companies will specify that you have non-framed, fabric outer luggage as it’s easier to pack into buses and store in hostels, and won’t damage other people’s belongings – which is a big bonus if you want to make and remain friends with the rest of the group.

 

Glampacker

A glampacker is a more polished creature. They know exactly where they’re going and what they’re doing, because their PA sent it all in a memo to them a week ago... just kidding. But generally a glamper will stick to more of an itinerary than a backpacker, because otherwise how would they know what essentials to pack? I mean emptying your entire shoe cupboard because you want to be prepared for any event is a ridiculous notion when all you really need are fourteen pairs. These guys opt for style over comfort every time (unless you’re talking about camping – in which case comfort over practicality), so you’ll spot them at the airport; Raybans without even a hint of a scratch on the lenses, a healthy glowing tan before they’ve even set foot in the sunshine, and freshly ironed crisp white clothing of some description – which is either brave, or just terribly thought out, depending on how recent the tan is.  

Luggage of choice: Suitcase – preferably with a designer logo emblazoned on the front, or all over in an eye-crossing repeat pattern. Because the stereotypical glampacker has numerous mod-cons and high-value clothing to protect, they usually opt for a hard-cased suitcase on wheels – makes sense to us. This is all fine and dandy if you know your journey between each destination will only consist of well-developed, flat terrain, but if you’re going to be travelling to more than one destination, you’ll find life a whole lot easier if you have a soft-cased bag. It can still be a suitcase rather than a backpack, but trust us when we say those little wheels become more of a hindrance than help when you’re travelling off the beaten track and are having to apologise profusely to your fellow travellers for the numerous perforations your bag has put in theirs. Luckily, you can get a whole range of good-looking designer luggage these days that comes free of hard casing, wheels, and metal frames that’ll still protect your valuables but are just a bit more practical.

 

The verdict

There’s no right or wrong here – just a sprinkling of common sense. So if you like to have every cosmetic, electronic device and a year’s worth of fresh underwear within easy reach, well that’s perfectly fine. Equally, if you’re happy throwing a couple of pairs of shorts and t-shirts in a bag and leaving the rest to chance, that’s also fine. Just keep a few things in mind before heading off on your travels:

  • • Pack for the climate you’ll be travelling in, but it’s always worth bringing a lightweight rain coat and a jumper or something warm just in case the weather does something unpredictable.
  • • Don’t feel you have to bring all your worldly possessions with you – chances are if you’ve forgotten to pack something you’ll be able to buy exactly the same, or something similar, for a fraction of the usual price while you’re travelling.
  • • If you’ve been planning your travels for a while, you’ve probably covered a fair bit of research already, so do you really need to bring more than one travel book with you? They weigh a lot when you’re lugging them round on your back. Why not download a few travel apps instead?
  • • Look up weight allowances and luggage restrictions before you travel – these can range from not carrying certain products in your hand luggage, to making sure your bag is free from metal frames and wheels. Check both airline and tour company restrictions, and if you’re not sure just ask.

Most importantly, have fun – who knows what adventures are round the corner – just make sure your luggage doesn’t hold you back.

For ideas on where to take your bag on holiday, or for general travel advice and guidance, give us call on 01892 277040, or ping us a message online.

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