There’s a particular species inhabiting European bus and train stations. I first noticed it way back when I first hit the travelers trail many many years ago: Small young women, usually around five feet tall, bent nearly horizontal as they walked under four-foot long backpacks.
Today it’s changed. The species is still there, but now they pull massive wheeled rollaboard suitcases that could easily hold two of the old backpacks. And…they still wear a full backpack, as well. One of these suitcases could hold ALL of the clothes I own for all climates – both what I travel with and what I’ve stuck in storage.
Does bringing our home on the road replace making a home on the road?
Does the burden of all our stuff and attachments get in the way of exploring? Of simply being, wherever we are? Does the need to carry and care for our baggage limit and color our experience like a stained glass window or an Instagram filter?
Maybe I’m being harsh. There are others who tour with empty bags tucked inside their bigger bags like a set of Russian dolls. Their mission? To buy souvenirs that advertise where they’ve been. And it’s not just the kids with their T-shirts and Andean ponchos. Nearly every one of the people I see wearing Aran knit sweaters and tweed caps around here are the older American & Canadian tourists who are back searching for their roots – and who can afford to look like the clichés they’ve grown up with.
The locals wear jeans.
We all buy clothes from foreign places. If you don’t believe me, just check the label of what you’re wearing right now. But the stuff we buy when we’re passing through these places can be functional or advertising. There’s nothing really wrong with either, except when it adds to the burden we’re carrying.
Is our stuff an extension of ourselves? Or the prison that keeps us in our past? The rollaboard tribes are pretty much restricted to paved areas and day trips from their operations base.
Everything we do is defined by our stuff – or lack of it. Does your stuff define you, enhance you – or imprison you?