Travel Principle #1: Your Backpack is YOUR Backpack
The backpack symbolizes both the literal and metaphorical tool you use to carry your gear on your adventure. They come in all shapes and sizes and can hold more or less of anything that one might want to take with them. Inside the backpack are all sorts of things you need and want. Sometimes you get to choose the things you put in it – such as gear for adventure travel. Other times those things are predetermined for you. You might have an illness or family situation that limits your travel.
However, regardless of the backpack you choose for your trip and what you carry with you, once you realize that your trip is YOUR trip you will enjoy it more.
This means that the things you pack and carry on your journey are yours. Yes, this includes the literal – underwear, cameras, chocolate bars and so forth. But it also includes the metaphorical – financial backing, medical conditions, travel purposes and so forth.
Travel With The Backpack That You Have
Sometimes we get to choose our backpack. On my first solo-backpacking trip to Europe I borrowed a backpack because I didn’t know any better at the time what kind of pack I would need. It was free. That was nice. But it was an old clunky external frame backpack to which I had to fasten my various personal items outside because there was not much room inside.
This pack worked great for this trip. This was because it was MY trip. Sure I met other people with other backpacks I wish I would have thought to purchase. But this was my trip and my pack and that is what mattered most.
Your Trip Is YOUR Trip
If you’re reading between the lines to the metaphorical, here we go.
Your trip is YOUR trip. Don’t let anyone tell you different. I’ve gone on numerous trips of various kinds where different people told me different things of what they thought of my trip. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Let them have it! It’s not until you form your own opinion about your journey that you start to see the importance of your backpack.
If you let other people pick or pack your backpack for you, then you will be sorely out of place and not prepared for the journey ahead. They might pack cold-weather gear for you, when you really needed a pair of board shorts and a surfboard. Or they might pick a big pack for you to carry all sorts of things you don’t really need for where you are going.
People’s intentions are almost always good. Don’t forget that. The packs and items they pick for you are not meant to hurt you. But they are not necessarily meant for you.
Only YOU know the things you have or need in your pack. You can’t expect others to do that for you and you also can’t look around at what others have in their packs and expect the same in yours.
Only You Know Your Limitations
I remember wandering South America on another solo-backpacking trip shortly after graduating from college. I met some really amazing people going to really amazing places and doing really amazing things. I wanted to experience it all with them – especially the cruise to Antarctica. But the reality was, I was not prepared to do what they were doing, nor was I able – financially or otherwise.
I would not, for some time, be able to afford a trip to Antarctica. Even if I was the closest to it as I could be, it just was not something I would be able to do.
I had to look at what I had packed and choose a course for myself based on that.
Yes, you can pick up and dump items (or entire packs) along the way. However, the principle still applies. Your pack is YOUR pack.
You might splurge and get the fancier pack. But if you don’t have the bank account to back up the rest of the journey, you’ll find yourself sitting on the sidelines the rest of the trip.
Or you might go out of your way to take a special trip of sorts, but if you have a pre-existing medical condition it might not only limit your ability to enjoy the experience but also put others on the journey with you at risk.
You have to do what is right for you. And if you don’t know what is right for you, step slowly and cautiously until you find your comfort zone. You’ll either know right away, or not, whether its right for you. At that point you can determine whether you want to add that experience to your pack or not.
Do What Is Right For You
For example, scuba diving is a luxury for most people in most parts of the world. For me it became a passion I could put in my pack that was obtainable by budget traveling to third world countries. What would cost someone thousands of dollars in the US or Europe only cost a fraction of that in my favorite third world country. And with my initial dive experience I was able to return time and again to continue to dive at no, or low, cost.
This is something for my backpack that is not necessarily for yours.
- But you might know how to sail, where I am but a dreamer.
- You might be able to work your way around the world playing an instrument, while I just tinker with my guitar.
- You might have a retirement or pension, while I’ve worked odd jobs my entire life.
What backpack you choose and what you put in that pack is almost entirely up to you. Choose wisely, but enjoy the journey!