Am I a Backpacking Hoarder?

Tara Walking With PackWe’ve spent the last 70 days on the move. To continue traveling light and stretch our savings for as long as possible, we abide by a strict no souvenir rule. There are two exceptions: if we would feel strong regret by not making a purchase (no object has yet had this powerful effect on us) or if the item will be beneficial during our travels (this we’ve experienced). Tara’s beneficial purchases include a hand fan and a shirt. Mike’s are shower shoes (after leaving his in Istanbul) and soccer jerseys. Mutual purchases include: a food container (which we accidentally left on a bus in Croatia), two towels for our cruise in Turkey and various amenities that have needed refilling.

Point being: What we buy, we use. What we brought with us, we use.

During a recent travel day from Zagreb to Dubrovnik, I got to thinking about the weight of my luggage. By taking out a couple outfits to keep with my carry-on bag, my large backpack felt remarkably lighter. What did I pack that’s been weighing me down?

Half of the long-term travelers out there would shake their finger at me since I brought two pairs of jeans. “They’re heavy and don’t dry quickly,” they’d say. The other half would say, “Who cares! Travel with the clothes you would wear at home.” And the latter is what I did. Another reason I brought jeans is because it’s difficult to find pairs that fit me well because of my height, build, whatever. But since we’re no longer in cold climates (like in Iceland and Finland), I don’t have an immediate need for jeans (and a shirt that I discovered I have only worn once). The next time I will probably use them is when we get to India in December. But that’s 4 months away.

Tara's packMy current struggle of whether to lighten my load is pretty similar to what I used to experience at home. It’s the: “I never wear this, but I’ll keep it because I think maybe one day I might.” Isn’t that one of the bad habits this trip is helping me nix? Certainly, I can only change the way I view things if I take action. I’ve been leaving clothes behind along the way — a skirt here, a jacket there — that I originally thought I might not want to keep for long. Perhaps I’ve run into the point in our trip where I need to reevaluate what else I’ve packed. We’ve been traveling long enough for me to know whether I’ll really need a certain item. There’s no point in carrying around excess weight.

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9 responses to “Am I a Backpacking Hoarder?

  1. I whole-heartedly have been enjoying your posts on your trip. I don’t think I ever got to meet you Tara (having only worked with Mike a year or so before I left) but you are such an excellent writer and have made reading about this amazing (and brave) trip wonderful! Thanks for the great posts!

  2. I’d be in serious trouble. I pack a huge suitcase for four days!!! Can’t possibly give you good advice on this one! Lol

  3. Guys, I’d like to meet you’ll here in India in Dec (perfect time to see the country) I hope its a good idea to share experiences? (I am based out of Mumbai, Maharashtra)

    Thanks for the posts.

    Best,

    Mitesh

  4. When you have so little, it is hard, isn’t it, to let something go? Thanks to my husband who was obsessive about our pack weights, I eventually became ruthless in shedding items. Even removing a few items can really make a difference. I did appreciate feeling more mobile in places like India where it is hot and making a quick getaway to avoid a tout is desirable. I held onto my jeans for the whole trip because the climates of our countries were varied right to the end, but I don’t think I ever wore them in India or Southeast Asia. It was just too darn hot. Sounds like at least one of those pairs of jeans could be a candidate for removal. If you think you’ll wear them at home, shipping by boat is not too expensive and it is an excuse to pick up a few souvenirs to stick in the package. Hope you’ve enjoyed Croatia. Plitvice is amazing, isn’t it?

    • It really is tough when you feel like you have so little left! Now that we’re in Morocco, I have to cover my knees and shoulders, and it’s a good thing I haven’t gotten rid of them yet because now I need them. But it’s too hot here to wear them, so I need to buy pants that are breathable, and then I can toss a pair of jeans. Now I’ll just be replacing them, but with a lighter pair at least. And yes, Plitvice is beautiful! I wish it wasn’t so crowded so we could’ve enjoyed the atmosphere a little more.

  5. You are so cute!!! Boy do I understand the short thing – don’t get rid of the jeans lol.
    You should of seen my suitcase to CostaRica, you’d never believe we were only going for 4 days. I think it’s a girl thing, just never no what will look good on today so it’s better to be prepared.

    • I’ve actually stopped caring about what I look like clothing-wise haha It’s more about the need, and I don’t want to have to buy something later because I threw it away earlier in the trip. I need to buy breathable long pants now for these conservative countries we’re in, and it kills me that I had some at home and didn’t bring them. Oy vey 🙂

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