How I learned to backpack

If you follow me on instagram you know that something I’m just as enthusiastic about as personal finance is travel, more precisely travel hacking and seeing the world pretty cheaply. I’ve pretty much gone full on backpacker, minus the greasy hair and skipping showers and also minus the hostel vibe because we usually avoid hostels.

I was not always this way, just like getting out of debt and staying out of debt, backpacking is something I learned to do better over time and is something I learned to love. If you read this post you’ll see that once upon a time I actually traveled with a 28″ upright rolling suitcase. It was HUGE! That was back in 2005 and 2007 when I visited my friend in the Netherlands and stayed with her for a few weeks. Ten years ago! I remember packing various shoes and lots of clothing and socks and an extra purse, full size toiletries and yeah I did have room left over but I used it to bring home all sorts of stuff that I couldn’t buy in Canada and lots of gifts from my family in the Netherlands to my family in Canada. Honestly though looking back, I’m not entirely sure how to fit a suitcase that big full of stuff.

In 2008 – 2010 I didn’t travel at all since I had just bought a house and I was beyond broke, barely able to pay my bills. (In 2008 my income was just over $12,000 gross). I started blogging in 2008 and got my finances in order over the course of the years. This summer I achieved a $100k networth, I have no debt and now travel several times per year.  I must be a slow learner since it took me over ten years to finally get here.

There is one key occasion that stands out to why I really started backpacking. In 2014 I went to Italy with my sister, we both had a purse and last minute at the airport decided to check our carryon-sized 21″ rolling suitcase…. they ended up lost for the next week as we had to make our pprebooked travel arrangements. While we filed our addresses with the airline, and we had cellphones with a working connection, our luggage played a cat and mouse game with us as the delivery company tried to track us down. We stayed in Rome the first few days, in an apartment rented through airbnb on the fourth floor. We had a great time! The buzzer rang a couple of days in and we couldn’t get figured out how to open the door… by the time we made it downstairs the guy was gone. We decided to just continue on with our travel plans. We stayed in a hostel in Napoli where the barely-speaks-any-english-host was able to help us call the airline and talk to the delivery people in Italian to help get the luggage delivered… it wasnt until we got to the third spot we had rented back in Rome that our luggage FINALLY showed up.

We ended up buying a couple of shirts and a pair of shoes and underwear to get through the week… I then had to fight with the travel insurance that those were needed expenses. I decided then and there I would never check a bag again. While I have checked bags again (sometimes we travel with bikes), I’ve never again checked a bag containing my clothing.

After that I spent quite a long time searching for and deciding on what I wanted in a bag and ended up settling on the Osprey Farpoint 40. Seriously… you have no idea how many backpack videos I watched. The Farpoint 40 suited all my requirements; hip belt, sternum strap, front loading, not huge. At 40 litres it’s smaller than I’ve seen a lot of backpackers drag around but it is everything I need  and it forces me to pack relatively light. I generally still have one or two items in my bag each trip that have had no use. I bought the bag for $160 canadian off Amazon in June 2015. 

The belt and straps arent adjusted properly in these photos but show well enough that it’s not a big pack. I realize this isn’t everyones cup of tea but if you’re in the market for fantastic quality pack; get this one! I am (obviously) excited enough to provide free advertising… that;s how much I love this bag. Well done Osprey

Over the past 3 years my travels have become both more frequent and more complicated. From flying an open jaw ticket to our most recent 16-flight around the world journey in 5 weeks. Having a backpack enables me to have my hands free, navigate more easily and forces me to keep it light. Becoming a backpacker was pretty much mandatory to be able to see the world while not going broke.

TLDR; I became a backpacker because I’m poor and like being efficient and dislike lost luggage.

Published by Renée

I write about my life, travel and my financial up and downs on my blog, Nickel By Nickel, while contradicting myself daily. ;)

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