The way you travel defines who you are. Perhaps that’s why they say that the best way to get to know a person is to travel together.
I first heard of the Empty Backpack concept in George Clooney’s movie, Up in the Air. It professes to traveling & living light, without unnecessary emotional or physical baggage.
Here’s sharing some of my Up in the Air inspiration with you:
Imagine for a second that you’re carrying a backpack. I want you to feel the straps on your shoulders. Feel ‘em? Now I want you to pack it with all the stuff that you have in your life. You start with the little things, the things on shelves and in drawers the knick-knacks, the collectibles. Feel the weight as that adds up. Then you start adding larger stuff… clothes, table-top appliances, lamps, linens…your TV…The backpack should be getting pretty heavy now. And you go bigger. Your couch, bed, your kitchen table. Stuff it all in there. Your car, get it in there. Your home, whether it’s a studio apartment or a two bedroom house. I want you to stuff it all into that backpack. Now try to walk. It’s kind of hard, isn’t it?
This is what we do to ourselves on a daily basis We weigh ourselves down until we can’t even move. And make no mistake; moving is living. Now, I’m gonna set that backpack on fire. What do you want to take out of it? Photos? Photos are for people who can’t remember. Drink some ginkgo and let the photos burn. In fact, let everything burn and imagine waking up tomorrow with nothing. It’s kind of exhilarating, isn’t it? This is how I start every day of my life.
Now, this is gonna be a little difficult, so stay with me. You have a new backpack. Only this time, I want you to fill it with people. Start with casual acquaintances, friends of friends, folks around the office. And then you move into the people that you trust with your most intimate secrets – your cousins, your aunts, your uncles, your brothers, your sisters, your parents, and finally your husband, your wife, your boyfriend or your girlfriend. You get them into that backpack. And don’t worry. I’m not gonna ask you to light it on fire. Feel the weight of that bag. Make no mistake, your relationships are the heaviest components in your life. Do you feel the straps cutting into your shoulders? All those negotiations and arguments, and secrets and compromises. You don’t need to carry all that weight.Why don’t you set that bag down?
Some animals were meant to carry each other, to live symbiotically for a lifetime -star-crossed lovers, monogamous swans. We are not those animals. The slower we move, the faster we die. We are not swans. We’re sharks.
I set out for 2 months of travel in 2 weeks time, and all I’m taking with me is my empty backpack. I’m striving to rid myself of the baggage that so many of us tend to carry with us for the major part of our lives, including the times we set out into the unknown.
I hope you’ll join me on my journey to explore the beauty of our world and capture small parts of it in pictures & words.
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I’m the founder of this award-winning travel blog about offbeat and sustainable travel, and author of the bestselling travel memoir, The Shooting Star.
In 2011, I quit my full-time job, and gradually gave up my home, sold most of my possessions, stored some in the boot of a friend’s car and embraced a nomadic life.
Connect with me on Instagram to hear more about my adventures and personal journey.