The one constant in my life this year as I travel around the world is my big backpack.
And like all other close companions, I’ve already established a love/hate relationship with it. It’s very hard to pack for one year. In fact, obviously, you really can’t technically pack for a year. I had to get it out of my head that I was packing for 365 days of travel. I really just had to pack for one week and remember there would be a lot of laundry in my future and, of course, I could always buy something if I need it.
I’d only been on the road a few weeks when I sent home a care package of extra clothes that I just didn’t need. And now, four months in, I’ve bought a few new shirts (re-wearing the same 6 over and over gets old real quick) and plan to give away some others and a pair of sandals in exchange. One thing you always have is a limit—there is only so much I can stuff into my backpack with out the seams starting to burst.
It’s nice to not have TOO many clothes, but I do miss having a bit more variety. For the first time, though, I feel like I’m certainly getting the most out of my clothes and shoes.
Packing and unpacking my bag has become one of my new tasks in life. It’s not exactly fun, but I just need to remember it’s replacing things like working 8+ hour days, riding the train for an hour to and from work, vacuuming, unloading the dishwasher (okay, sorry, that’s a bad example since I was super lucky to even have a dishwasher in the first place), etc. The part that makes my obsessively neat side happy is the separate Ziploc-type air-releasing clothes bags I brought. Not only do they help to keep all my clothes compressed, my favorite part is how they keep my garments organized—pants in one bag, shirts in another, and the under-things in a third. This makes life a whole lot easier when you have to crash at a place for just one night. Love these.
My backpack is what they call a convertible. Oooh yeah, put the top down! No, it has wheels and an extendable handle so you can roll it, but also has a flap in back that unzips to reveal some straps and a waist belt so you can hoist it onto your back when necessary. So far, I’ve been wondering if I should’ve just bought the regulation huge backpack I see on nearly every traveler I meet. With mine it seemed more like I was strapping a huge suitcase to my back. Fortunately there have only been a few times I’ve actually had to wear “big red” like a backpack. Boarding a boat taxi in Costa Rica in knee deep water was one of them. Another one was in Chile when I hobbled over a rocky road which became a rocky sidewalk which turned into a steep, grassy hill that led to my hostel with the great view, but the sweat-inducing and nearly impossible access. Normally, I have to actually sit down to strap my pack to my back. At that hostel, some old leathery Chilean woman had to help me hoist the forty pound monstrosity on to my tired disoriented body.
But, fortunately, I have received the always welcomed approval from some fellow backpackers. A girl from Switzerland was admiring my pack in Costa Rica and loved how it opened like a suitcase instead of a rucksack like hers. She had to put everything in through the top of her bag and therefore had to dump out the contents anytime she needed to get at something. Inevitably, that ‘something’ was bound to be all the way at the bottom. Plus it is made by Victorinox—the famous Swiss Army Knife Company. It’s not exactly ‘razor-sharp,’ but the name brand also helped woo her Swiss praise.
My big red pack comes with a separate but attachable smaller day pack. This I use just as it says—on day trips to carry my camera, rain jacket and other possibly important daily necessities like ‘womanly items’ or my cool compass/flashlight/thermometer/magnifying glass tool. You never know when you will suddenly be lost in the dark and need to know the temperature and have to read some fine print!
Things I Brought that I Love:
- Packable Rain Jacket
- Big hair clip
- Nylon shorts and pants with zip pockets
- Sleep Sack (only used it once so far, but it saved me from some pretty rank sheets)
- Micro Fiber Mini Towel
- Duct Tape (patched up holey screen to keep out pesky Costa Rican mosquitoes—but as most of you remember it did not help with the ant situation)
- Umbrella (this is, of course, already broken, but my next one will be just as cherished)
- Chapstick with SPF protection
- Hiking Boots & Walking Sandals
Things I don’t need:
- A full set of Encyclopedias
- My car
- My U.S. State Quarter Collection
- A beach ball
- A little, cuddly wallaby (oh, but I’d sure love to have one!)
See the “How LL” page for more details on what I brought and how a world tour is planned.
Sadly, since writing this, I lost my cool thermometer-slash-compass. Or was it stolen? I think the latter. I mean who wants a laptop when you can have a cool gizmo like that?
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I hope your Backback is the only problem on your way. But you are right. You have to pack it and to look for it all the time. Its like a pet. Maybe you will give him a Name….
hughs and kisses
Schlepping Big Red!!! Well, it sounds like you're getting quite used to living out of your backpack and arranging the contents to suit your needs as you go. Sorry to hear about the loss of you compass/thermometer – hopefully that will be the last of your possessions to disappear. And whoever took it, will be hopelessly lost and either too hot or too cold!!
Dear Martha Stewart,
Look how little it really takes to live. Forget about the compass, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. If you're driving there the North and South are on either side. Ask someone.
Awesome post , I’m going to spend more time learning about this subject