7 Truths Of Living Out Of A Backpack This Summer Because It's A Sartorial Whirlwind
Man, don't you think living out of a backpack has a romantic feel to it? Here you are, wandering down the cotton candy colored streets of Buenos Aires or the humid roads of Hanoi, your face tipped up towards the sky, your hair in a messy braid, and a dusty and well-traveled backpack on your shoulders.
That bag symbolizes everything fun and reckless about summer: Once the sun breaks loose you have an itch to leave home behind and get lost in the winding roads of new countries, mingling with the locals and testing out how their strange and beautiful words feel as they come clumsily out with your voice. You have an impressive farmer's tan to be reckoned with, and your passport is full of official looking stamps from unreal backpacker destinations.
While that image has a ring of truth to it, the reality of it isn't quite that romantic. Your backpack is your life, and just like the real deal, it's chaotic, messy, and you create a love-hate relationship with it. You can never find anything when you need it, it feels like you have a bratty fourth grader strapped to your back at all times, and there are grim moments where you darkly imagine just punting it into the Ganges River. But that comes with adventuring, and every moment you hate it, you love it. Here are seven things you can expect while spending one on one time with the beast.
1. You Can't Find Anything, Ever
You're all settled in your hostel and want to get some ceviche before drinks and dinner with your friends. Peru is waiting for you, and excited to go meet it, you want to wear your flirty little summer dress to make a good impression with the city. Well, good luck finding it. That sucker is probably rolled up and folded at the very bottom of your backpack, just under the plug converter and extra pair of flip flops you just couldn't leave behind. That or it somehow made its way to your friend's pile of clothes on the other side of the room, squirreled away under a pile of socks. Don't even try; you won't find it till it's time to pack up and catch the train to the next country. I guarantee it.
You're going out in those leggings you wore on the plane, sister friend. Sorry.
2. What Is Yours, Becomes Your Friend's
When backpacking things aren't as comfortable as when you zipped around back in the states, you stop at late-night hotels with things like "Comfort" and "Luxury" in their names. Now you have a bed that feels like plywood and a rickety desk you use to dry your towels and bras on.
If you're lucky.
Which means no closets, no drawers. Which also means the only place for your clothes is to be strewn out all over the floor. And if you're traveling with a friend, chances are your pile will somehow crawl over and meld with her pile. You'll find your underwear in her blouse sleeve, her skirt entangled around your laptop charger. Your socks will somehow end up in her jean pockets and her makeup bag will be underneath your hiking gear. Don't question the madness — just accept it and learn how to survive around it.
3. Laundry Isn't Such A Priority
Listen, I know a few of you cringed on this one, but chances are that wherever you're headed to this summer, you're going to be hot and sweaty for 18 out of the 24 hours that you're wandering down rambling side streets and maze-like bazaar markets. That dress you have on is no longer a dress. It's a sweat towel. Everything you brought with you is now officially a sweat towel. And unless you plan on doing laundry every other day, you're going to learn not to really care.
4. Market Clothes Are Beginning To Look A Whole Lot Better Than Your Clothes
You know that elephant print dress with the pompom trim hanging in that market nook? I don't know, isn't it looking a whole lot cuter than that Madewell dress you bought especially for this trip? And that fun tie-dye tank, or those cool Alibaba pants? Especially when they're paired together?? These are things you wouldn't be caught dead in back home but now seem pivotal for you to continue on with this trip. Tread carefully, friend, or next you'll be requesting dreadlocks like the rest of us backpackers.
5. Everything Is Always Infuriatingly Wrinkly
You spent two whole hours watching YouTube podcasts on how to pack a backpack. You followed through with weird wives' tales tricks to ward off wrinkles. You spent more time than you'd care to admit Tetris-ing everything into your bag and still — still! — every single thing looks like it went through some horrible, unspeakable accident. Sighing, you throw it over your head and hope the sweat will somehow decrease it.
6. When In Doubt, Go For It
This isn't like when you're back at home, where you can spend an hour contemplating if that belt brings out the print in that playsuit. No girl, you need to throw on whatever looks semi-presentable (and we've got a large tolerance for what's semi-presentable) and head out the door to go adventure.
Since your bag is now a hodge-podge of bazaar finds and the bottom of your laundry bag, chances are you're going to look like you're heading to day three of Burning Man. And as you sweep your frizzy hair into a bun and shoot your tanned face a flirty wink in the mirror, chances are that's the way you like it now.
7. You'll Start Leaving Mementos Behind At Hostels
That annoying digital watch you bought to make sure you catch all your trains? The same one that goes off every hour and that you have no idea how to turn off? Yeah, that's going into the lobby garbage can. Or that denim pinafore you packed that will finish you off with a heat stroke by noon? That's going to be left behind at the hostel for some other fool who's willing to give it a go. As your trip progresses, you'll quickly figure out what works and what doesn't, and anything that doesn't make the cut will be purged and purged ruthlessly.
Now strap your backpack on, my dear traveler, and go get lost in the world. It's waiting for you.
Images: Fotolia; Giphy (7)