The Four Levels of a Backpacker

The preparation of the luggage (backpack) for my last trip in the south of Argentina was born with a basic criterion, based on my not so bulky experience, but above all, therefore read on hundreds of blogs and forums for backpackers: the idea was Carry as little as possible of what we think possible, because evidently, the backpack can become our worst enemy during a trip.

On the train of sincere blame, I think the worst enemy is none other than yourself. What was an idea of ​​carrying the indispensable minimum was transformed into a preparation too detailed: clothes for cold, clothes for heat, clothes for average temperature.Especially thinking that the trip was in an autumn time where the summer sometimes does not decide to go, or winter rushes in to get there. The result was a backpack for fifteen days of about 12 kilos. Which, for an expert traveler accustomed to several months of travel, surely could be an excess.

Indeed, after fifteen days and wandering through several cities I ended up using half of what I had taken, or what is the same, I could have traveled half as light. Needless to add that the concept of dirty clothes can vary greatly during a trip:). To my false tranquility, on the way I crossed with innumerable backpackers in hostels, couch-host, from everywhere, and always with the big problem of backpack rucks, its weight and size. And everyone seemed to have their formula not always ideal for arming their luggage.

The most extreme case I encountered was when I met two full-time travelers, one from Poland and another from Peru, who a few weeks before had had the courage to cheer for a trekking route through Torres del Paine National Park in Chile, and Free, with the worst of the enemies on their backs: a huge and heavy backpack. What should have been a four-day trekking route, was shortened to “a frustrated attempt to know one of the most wonderful landscapes in the world,” an aborted adventure that evidently left it pending for later, or for another life. When talking, one of them explained that they could not continue with their backpack, one of them raised mine and said to me in English, something like that of my 12 kilos was “a pen” in comparison to the Of about 20k. In those few minutes, it became clear that a backpack with excess weight can deprive you of the best of the trip.

The enemy: the trap of wanting to travel with the house on its back.

I remember that on the same trip backpacking in the south, I had reached a point, where the mere idea of ​​moving from one city to another had become the most unpleasant thing about the trip, and that it was a trip of A couple of weeks. A trip serves among other things to learn that we live with much more than we need. At home we have everything that seems irreplaceable and when we travel, we want to take everything to not lose the feeling of comfort.

A trip is the opportunity to learn to do without things: I know more extreme cases, backpackers (or backpackers) who have even traveled without dispensing with objects that would make other travelers (and me) laugh, a useless tool, a mirror ?, some books?…

Traveling, you learn for example that many things we use at home are not necessary on a trip, and really need them, we could buy it on the road, and many times at a better price than in our own neighborhood. It is learned that carrying a soap to wash about 15 garments is much more practical than loading 40 garments in the back; That if it is cold, we can buy a coat in the place and good prices (in a lot of countries we will not be able to believe how cheap it is to buy clothes), and before leaving to a destination warmer, we will be able to give it; That with only a pair of sneakers we can walk for several months to get rid of it and buy other ….

Travel light on four levels:

Making a backpack a light load should become a travel philosophy. To express the idea, I mention some concepts that have been explored by other travelers and myself. Imagine the traveling career as a breakthrough in learning to reduce weight. The majority of travelers start with level 1, backpack with overweight, according to cheeroutdoor.

Level 1. Overweight backpack (60 to 90 liters capacity): A long trip (more than a month) is about to arrive and we intend to carry everything we use at home: the backpack can reach up to 20 kilos and touch the 30k . Clothes for departures, clothes for parties, clothes for excursions and clothes for sleeping with variants for each climate and temperature, all type of products of personal hygiene, cables and chargers for gadgets, maps, travel books, pleasure books, objects that Do not be afraid to miss … The result can be almost catastrophic: the back will take a toll, we will spend more money because we feel obliged to use taxis, we will abhor the idea of ​​moving not from city, but hotel, and travel It will become a heavy load.

Level 2. Intermediate backpack (45 to 60 liters): if we are first-time backpackers, it is the first goal that we should achieve. The important thing is not to fall into the trap at the time of leaving, and to be clear that we always calculate to carry much more than we need. Do not hesitate to remove socks, coats, reduce the number of shirts, pants, and above all, dispense with everything we can buy on the road at a better price than at home. Generally, on reaching this level, we are already at the level of an experienced backpacker.

Level 3. Minimum backpack (20 to 40 liters, also less) : I read it on the blog of Aniko Villalba in Traveling there and I liked how to express the concept of yourminimalist experiment. The idea is to apply the concept of minimalism to our luggage, and reduce it to the least amount of possible objects: a number of objects that can enter a backpack hand. Imagine putting together a luggage with just a backpack and a handbag. Dispense clothes and reduce everything to what we would need to have a four-day supply of clothing, a pair of sneakers, a pair of slacks (or flip-flops). Backpacker’s paradise would be possible: going through airports without waiting for luggage on the treadmill, walking through cities of insufferable heat, but without exaggerated physical effort is possible and depends on us.

Level 4. Without Backpack: the most extreme challenge of a traveler, could be incarnated in Rolf Potts, of whom we speak already in the blog. Rolf Post conducted the experiment of traveling without luggage, without handbag or backpack. Of course he is a travel journalist, and trained to travel. The formula includes taking advantage of cargo pants with numerous pockets where to carry the essential of the essential.

Reaching Level 4 is a challenge that is not for everyone; But thinking about reaching level 3, the minimum backpack, is a goal that every backpacker should aim for, especially for the well-being of your back.

In either case, you have to learn to resist the idea of ​​buying souvenirs, gifts, and satisfying small personal consumer caprices. The most important thing that we can bring of each trip are our experiences, experiences and the satisfaction of becoming enriched as people. To do this, a minimum backpack next to a handbag will suffice. But many times we have to learn by ourselves, and go through each stage to reach level 3, something like a doctorate backpacking, or the remedy to our back pain.