Lessons from a Backpack

Reflections and musings of a solo female backpacker while on the road. 

© Swimming in Las Grietas, Galapagos Islands.

“Living off a backpack will teach you that we can live without 95% of what we normally accumulate at home – the gadgets, accessories, cosmetics, a mountain of wardrobe, these are all unnecessary things we purchase as a result of materialism.”

life lessons on the road

lessons from a backpack

It was exactly June 4, 2017 when I boarded a plane and left my tiny country, my entire family, a hellish job, and all the worldly possessions I have accumulated in 33 years, a helpless victim of a capitalist world. 

Instead, I find myself possessionless save for my 60L sack filled with what I deemed were “essentials” – passport, wallet, camera equipment (ties at the number one spot with my passport), gadgets, sleeping bag, yoga mat, toiletries, medicines, a few clothes and loads of excitement for the adventure that awaits.

I have so far traveled to 7 countries in 4 continents and in the short time I have traveled, I can say that I have imbibed so many things that I otherwise wouldn’t have if I had stayed in my country, working at my nine-to-six which definitely paid well but gave so much hell.

© Sunset in Huacachina Oasis, Peru.

lesson # 1. Most Essentials Aren’t Essential


I would leave more than half of what I brought in my backpack if I could. I have so far used my sleeping bag once, I brought a kilo too much of meds and vitamins (I knew, however, this was the case. It was the least I could do to appease my mom’s worry), and the yoga mat is still struggling to be of more use to justify its weight and volume in my backpack.

Living off a backpack will teach you that we CAN live without 95% of what we normally accumulate at home – the gadgets, accessories, cosmetics, a mountain of wardrobe, these are all unnecessary things we purchase as a result of materialism. Imagine if everyone’s possessions were the size of a 60L backpack while everything else were communal. Mother nature would cry with gratitude and relief.


lesson # 2. meaningless minutiae


Living off a backpack and traveling will make you forget the meaningless minutiae of your meaningless “self” – the regrowth of natural hair you need to dye every two months, the blackheads you need to get a facial appointment for, the tiny hairs from your legs and armpits you just had to wax before going out the house. These become trivial against a backdrop of vibrant pulsing colors, complex flavors and the cacophony of a strange language being thrown on every street.


© An Ecuadorian local.

© Tourists in France.

lesson # 3. The World is an Extension of your Backpack


Living the routine of a 9-5 job, waking up to the sound of the alarm – which you’ve snoozed 5 five times – going to the office, cramming your self in a 3×3 cubicle, heading home to watch TV leads to a myopic view of people and of life where every single belief and perspective you hold comes from the news you are fed from the media.

When we open the tv and watch the news, we see so many evils and suffering that we only see how greedy and evil people are, how they are motivated with self-centered intentions. Yes, we all know how the media only feeds us what it wants to serve but we do not truly know how distorted our world view is until we set forth and venture into the world with nothing but a backpack in tow.

Traveling around the world with just a backpack for six months has opened my mind’s eye of just how helpful that stranger next to you on the bus can be, or how every stranger can become a friend with nothing but a smile given to them. Slowly, the world unfolds itself to you and you realize how generous the world can be and it becomes an extension of your backpack. A stranger’s home becomes your home for a few days and that stranger is no longer.