I lived out of a backpack on and off for a decade before I met my wife, and settled down from my nomadic ways. That being said, I was ready to settle down even before I met her. Traveling all of the time, and carrying your life with you on your back can get exhausting. Especially after 10 years!
Living out of a backpack and running around the world can also be incredibly rewarding, it will teach you a heck of a lot about yourself (and the world), and shine a spotlight on all that you’re holding onto. Although I have a lot more stuff than I did in those 10 years (owning two houses and a hotel will do that to you), I still carry with me lessons from backpack life with me.
Whether you’re planning on becoming a backpacker around the world, or you’re just curious what the hell the takeaways are from this lifestyle without actually doing it yourself- then this post is for you. I will outline 7 lessons I learned from living out of a backpack, as well as tips for achieving this particular lifestyle should you so choose.
7 Lessons From Living Out Of A Backpack
Living out of a backpack and traveling the world isn’t for everyone. It’s just not. And that’s okay. We’re meant to be different from one another. However, what we can all benefit from- at least here in the Western world- is a critical look at consumerism, and a healthy dose of minimizing.
When you’re living out of a backpack, then you want to make sure that you have versatile clothing. If you read my post about how to pack for your next trip, then you’ll remember this tip there, too. And it’s a big one! Because it can save a lot of space and money.
Although I’m settled into a house now, I still carry this idea of versatile clothing around with me, rather than contributing to the fast fashion hamster wheel. Sure, trends can be fun and cute sometimes- but they can also be incredibly wasteful. Instead, look for choices that will work for a variety of occasions, situations, and remain classic overtime in an effort to reduce your spending and maximize what you already have.
I love buying secondhand. If you read my post about how to score on Poshmark, then you already know this. But I need to shout it from the rooftops again, because it’s important when it comes to reducing waste.
The thing about buying second hand is that it’s not necessarily easy. That’s a good thing. Sometimes it’s a little too easy to just type whatever we want into the Amazon search bar, and get it the same day. Instant gratification can result in excess.
Maximize Through Technology
This one might be controversial for some, but it’s been a gamechanger for me when it comes to packing and traveling, because I’m able to save a lot of space by going digital. Yep, that means I read on my iPad, instead of real books. And I use apps or Notes instead of hard copy options for journals.
Another reason I love the digital option is that there can be features that would otherwise be unavailable with a physical copy. For example, I use the Five Minute Journal App as opposed to the journal. I love the app, because I have over 5 years of entries in one space, with unlimited entries to go. Plus, I can add photos every day, which I obviously couldn’t do with the hard copy journal.
Reduce Beauty Products
I’m all about skincare. Trust me, I had to go through a lot to get my skin to where it is today, which you can read all about in my post on healing my skin. So, I’m not saying chuck all your beauty products out the window, and that they’re useless. What I am saying is that less is more when it comes to beauty.
Plus, the less products you have, the less steps you’ll have in your skincare routine. The less steps you have, the more likely you are to actually do it consistently. And consistency is key for results. I’m all about investing in a few high quality products, rather than trying everything I see on Instagram. Your best bet is to go to a dermatologist for a professional recommendation for you and your skin, rather than relying on influencers.
What You Need vs. What You Want
When you’re living out of a backpack, you’ll get really good at deciphering between what you need versus what you want…with anything! This component of mindfulness usually starts in a very tangible way if you’re deciding whether or not to buy that sweater. But then it becomes a habit for other choices too. You’re creating a pause, before reacting. That’s a good thing!
Knowing what you need versus what you want sounds like a simple understanding, but in today’s consumerist world- it can be a lot easier said than done. Practice pausing before reacting to check in with how you really feel about the next thing you’re going to buy. Do you need it? Or do you want it?
Decluttered Space = Decluttered Mind
My wife and I couldn’t be more different in this category. I literally don’t know how she manages to be an exec at a large tech company in an office that looks like a bomb has gone off. It stresses me out just looking in that room, so I keep the door closed and pretend like it’s not there.
For me, when my space is clean, things are organized, and there’s not a whole lot of stuff everywhere- I feel lighter and clearer. When you’re living out of a backpack while traveling, you’ll know that having a lot of stuff is quite literally heavy. The same thing happens even when we’re not actually carrying our belongings around. They’re heavy! They can weigh us down, and block us from the importance or beauty of life.
We all know about Steve Jobs and the black turtleneck. Living proof that decision fatigue is real. The less you have, the less you need to decide about what to wear, which one to choose, so on and so forth. Look, I get it, I like to express myself through clothes, and can get quite into the fashionista girliness of it all. So I’m not trying to wear black turtlenecks every day.
However, I will say that having a smaller closet of staple pieces is really helpful when it comes time to getting dressed every day. The same thing goes for jewelry, shoes, bags, makeup, WHATEVER- I just like to have versalite, high quality pieces instead of five million options to choose from. That way, my brain can focus on a lot more useful things like my work, my relationships, and my family. You get it.
So, what do you think- are you ready to sell all your stuff, and live out of a backpack yet? No worries if not. You can still practice these principles in the comfort of your own home, too. Either way, hop on the spring cleaning wagon (regardless of the season), and work on shedding that which you no longer need.
You’ll feel lighter, clearer, and a whole lot more free. I swear.