I Became a Backpacker in my 30’s

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012 | Posted under India, Travel General, Travel Tips

Okay, the title of this post is kind of pushing it. I now own a backpack, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’m a backpacker. By the way, many people use the term “backpacker” to refer to a certain way of traveling on a tight budget for long periods of time that usually means traveling light (hence, with just a backpack or very light luggage), staying in hostels, and trying to get away from mass tourism. I’m not going to really touch on that phenomenon in this post, as I’ve never considered myself a backpacker.However, I now own a backpack!

A few hours before heading to the airport for my flight to Delhi. Our apartment was a mess with all of the packing. 

For the first two weeks of my trip to India, I was on the Classic Rajasthan tour with Intrepid Travel (more on that experience in another post). One of Intrepid’s recommendations was to make sure that we could easily carry our luggage, and their pre-trip materials suggested that we either pack very light or carry a backpack. Pack light? That. Does. Not. Compute. 🙂 Okay, fine. I can pack light to some degree, but for three weeks?

I really didn’t want to spend the money on a backpack. Ones that could hold what I needed for the length of trip I was going on were well over $100 USD. 🙁  Plus, I usually don’t feel the need to carry one for the type of travel I tend to do. I can pack a 20 inch carry-on for almost two weeks worth of travel depending on my destination (warmer places are easier to pack for me).

In the end, I decided to buy a backpack. Here’s what I bought:

REI Tour 60 Women’s Travel Pack. The smaller day backpack is missing from this picture. 
Did I fit everything into my backpack? Of course not. Especially since I brought an arsenal of products with me, which I will tell you about later. I did have one small additional bag with “stuff” that I probably could have done without but ended up using that bag to fit souvenirs. I also carried my travel purse/daypack (remember that?) to keep important items close to me, like my electronics.
Was it worth it to have a backpack? Here’s what I think:What I liked about the backpack

My backpack kept me honest about packing clothes. I only packed 10 days’ worth of clothing for three weeks. That was a challenge for me. I did have my laundry done at one point during the three weeks, but I found a way to make do with what I had. I wore many things multiple times; and, unlike some destinations, I didn’t feel the need to look fashionable in India. 😉
I will say that I always felt like I could carry my stuff myself when I wanted to. While we often had help with our bags, my backpack definitely made it easier to get through extremely crowded and frenzied train stations (especially ones with lots of stairs) and other places.
We traveled on so many different modes of transportation that I’m glad I had something that I didn’t mind taking a beating. It’s not like I baby my luggage, but I do want it to last as long as possible. This backpack seemed to do okay getting hit from all sides and enduring Rajasthan’s never-ending dust.

Our luggage being packed on top of a jeep. I used to say a little prayer when our stuff was on top of moving vehicles in India. You would, too. Trust me. 


What I didn’t like about the backpack
Sometimes the backpack just felt bulky and cumbersome, although I will be the first to admit that mine was packed to the gills by the end of the three weeks.
I felt that it was hard to find some items in the bag when I wanted them. Again, this is probably just my lack of experience efficiently packing a backpack, but sometimes I felt like I had to take out too many things just to find what I needed. I probably should have gotten a bigger bag, but I couldn’t justify the money.
Either way, I feel like I got an understanding of what many travelers experience just by carrying a backpack, even if it’s not my usual travel style. I didn’t get to backpack through Europe, Latin America, or South East Asia, as many travel bloggers do, but at least I can say I actually own one. 🙂
Have you ever used a backpack while traveling? Do/did you like using one? Do you have particular type of luggage that you like to use? 

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