- Traveling with a backpack isn’t just for backpackers or broke students
Backpacking has an advantage for a particular type of travel no matter who you are. Using one will leave your hands free and is physically economic for trips where there is frequent travel within your destination. Yes, it still sucks to carry it, but at least you are mobile and quick. On these types of trips, efficiency is everything – if your luggage handle breaks you are screwed. As a woman, I also carry purses that give me a little wiggle room. But, recently I have decided a camera bag can serve a dual purpose as my purse too.
- The places you will go with your backpack
Not having to tote around luggage all over hell and back allows you the freedom to take the road less traveled. You can’t pull 30lb wheeled luggage down a narrow cobblestone street in France. Guess you could, but you are most likely sadistic if that’s your thing. If you aren’t carrying extra weight, you will be more liable to walk a bit further delving into areas that tourists rarely go. Exploration is the best part of travel – you never know what you will find. I don’t want to miss the incredible restaurants in a back ally of Tokyo’s Ginza or a mom and pop owned ceramic shop making the same cups since the Tokugawa Shogunate.
- No waiting for or losing luggage
No checked bags. After, say, a 33-hour flight to India the last thing you want to wait for is your baggage. Just exit the plane, go through customs, and your journey begins. The airline can’t lose your luggage if it’s with you. I learned this the hard way. The last time I checked luggage was a trip to Armenia in 2007. The airline lost my luggage – I had no clean clothes for four days. Living without clean underwear will teach you many lessons about keeping all of your necessities with you on the plane. Also, if you might want to check a small bag that you can later stuff into a backpack – that way you can have your favorite essentials with you. I have nasty skin, so I bring my special lotions, soap, and conditioner.
- Purchase only what you can carry
When you travel economically, you are limited to what you can buy. Not going on a mindless shopping spree might seem sad at first, but here are two reasons why I think it is great. First, you only get things you love – if you are willing to haul it with you on two-week trip it is probably worth it. Second, you focus on making memories and not purchasing them. Thirty years from now are you going to have the windmill keychain you picked up in Amsterdam? Or are you going to remember the old couple who helped you when you got lost and ended up inviting you home for dinner?