An Empty Backpack.

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.

empty backpack, travel, george clooney, up in the air, travel inspiration

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.

the shooting star academy, get paid to travel course

Similar Posts


  1. Makes me so envious! So where are you headed ?

    That reminds me of my backpack that shall soon be on its way to mounatins with my sleeping bag and tent. The craving and longing is so much. Am so excited.

    Regarding that backpack and baggage deal, I scribbled something along the lines sometimes back. The link is provided, in case you like to read?

    1. I’m off to Europe (France, Italy, Austria, Germany & Netherlands) and then to India 🙂 Which mountains are you heading to? We’re in the same excitement mode! Thanks for the link, I’ll be sure to check it out.

  2. Interesting quote from the movie
    and I hope you have your own anecdotes to share after your empty backpack journey.
    you post very rarely these days ??

    1. I’m sure I will 🙂 Yeah rare posts are attributed to juggling work & social life, though that’s no excuse. Once I’m off traveling, I’ll be posting more often. Come back soon 🙂

  3. Well seems like you are set out on an interesting trip….hope you have loads of things to explore…..

    1. Thanks Valerine, I’m going to some lovely places and will be writing about it all here, I’m sure there’ll be loads to explore 🙂

  4. Hi Shivya… I love to travel light. That was a very inspiring post. Loved the reference to the word ‘baggage’- the emotional baggage of attachments that we always carry around in life:)

    1. Thanks Sajeev. I’ve realized it’s easier said than done!

  5. midaevalmaiden says:

    Hi, I just popped over and first read your header. Then I said, “OOOH OOOh!” I know Im gonna love this blog. Thank you for finding me.

    One time I had reduced all my worldly possesions down to two large canvas carriers. They were all that I couldnt live with out. Then, one of those bags got stolen. I was left with only the one bag. It was the bag with my journals, poetry, art and books in it.

    At first it devastated me, but then I thought of it as an adventure. (ALL my clothes were stolen) So I bought 3 outfits in a store near the bus station and embraced the simplicity my life now was.

    Having that bag stolen taught me the same kind of lesson you write about here. 🙂 Its a good memory for me.

    1. I guess the best things happen from the least expected circumstances! Your spirit is very inspiring. I’m glad you survived that 🙂

  6. The way you travel defines who you are. How true is that! Loved the blog…

  7. Pingback: 10 travel tips for your first EUROTRIP | 704 Tourism
  8. Hi Shiva,

    I am headed to europe for a 15 days trip with hubby. both of us r on same page in using bagpack n going light on luggage. we plan to visit 3 or max 4 countries minimizing our air travel fare .. I tend to be a heavy packer :D.. any tips wil be appreciated on this to pack light

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *