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The Joys of Living Out of Your Backpack

As much as I wish it were the case, I’m not currently traveling. I’m sitting in my apartment that has two bedrooms and a whole bunch of stuff. Things are everywhere: a futon, blender, recliner, a coffee table, bookshelves, nightstands, desks, storage boxes; my bed is adorned with throw pillows for God’s sake. Where did all this come from? And as much as I’ve come to enjoy many of these items, I’m more often yearning for a simpler lifestyle, one in which I have everything I need on my back and I can go anywhere unhindered at any time and I don’t have to think or worry or care about restraints or objects or setting down roots. At the end of long journeys, we frequently say, “I can’t wait to stop living out of my backpack.” Here’s a few reasons why living out your luggage is the better way to exist, no matter where you are.

Plato once wrote that “beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity.” Living out of a pack means fewer choices, fewer distractions and less clutter; you strip away the unnecessary so that you’re left only what is required or what you freely choose to do. One of the greatest lessons of travel is learning to live with less, and the longer you do it, the less you miss the things that pack storage units or apartments back home. Don’t go so simple as to forget your Wenger Swiss Army Knife though.

On the road, whatever you get has to fit into your pack. Unless you’re filling up with diamonds, tiny things require tiny money. The best part about that is that you get to then spend it on things that actually matter: experiences. Screw buying a nightstand; instead find an awesome restaurant to enjoy with your significant other. Don’t worry about fixing the car you don’t have, go skydiving instead. Pick up a water filter and go hiking for a week in a desolate nowhere, for free.

Fewer possessions equal more time. You lack things that act as distractions that make it easy to waste away the days. In your pack is likely a bunch of dirty socks, maybe a book, some cool keepsakes you’ve found along the journey and things to keep you warm, or not, depending on where you are. To be entertained you have to go out and try new things, meet new people, use those feet you were given and wander around, which, according to Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding, is one of the most important things you can do.

The more I sit in my apartment the more these possessions feel like a burden. It’s time to scale down, sell all this trash and spend some quiet moments drinking tea, visiting the local museum and then maybe going for an afternoon jump from an airplane. It’s time to travel – even if I do it here at home.

By Bryan Schatz


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