5 Tips For Traveling With Just A Backpack, Because I Did It For A Year & It's Possible

by Ciara Johnson

I spent a year traveling the world with just a backpack, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Looking back, I had a lot of fears surrounding this style of travel. How would I go that long without my favorite clothes and a variety of shoes to choose from? Would I get tired of living out of a bag? Would I actually have everything I needed? In the end, I learned so many lessons about adventuring with just the essentials. Here are a few tips for traveling with a backpack, because I did it for an entire year and it's totally possible.

It's easy to think that life gets easier when you have more clothes, shoes, accessories, and options in general to choose from. However, backpacking taught me that this couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, I quickly learned that once I limited the stuff I brought along with me on my journey, I was able to completely focus on things that actually matter in life. Life's simple pleasures bring so much joy, and I was able to experience that first-hand. This style of travel introduced me to a new way of living, and I'm so glad I gave it a try.

Bring Only The Essentials
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It may be tempting to cram your entire life into your backpack, but you'll thank yourself for choosing wisely when it comes to packing. You'll have to lug a backpack around for months on end, and a heavy bag will only weigh you down (both physically and mentally).

On the first day of my backpacking trip, I quickly realized that I made a terrible mistake by overpacking. I knew that I wouldn't be able to carry this heavy bag around for an extended period of time. After a while, I found myself giving clothes away because I was overwhelmed with what I brought. These days, I stick to packing a week's worth of clothing and planning my outfits in advance.

Utilize The Electronics You Do Bring
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While it's important to limit the valuables you bring, it's crucial to utilize the electronics that you do bring. I prefer to limit my electronics to my smart phone, DSLR camera, and Kindle. With my smartphone alone, I had the ability to capture photos, record videos, receive online bank statements, maintain relationships, and use travel apps to make my journey so much easier. As a solo backpacker, carrying my smartphone helped me plan out my itinerary, document my journey, and keep my loved ones updated throughout my travels.

Keep An Open Mind

Travel is all about seeking out new places and ways of life. It's about embracing the unknown, living life on the spontaneous side, and keeping an open mind.

As you head off on your backpacking adventure, you should do your best to stick to this mentality. You'll be surprised to discover new things about yourself and others along the way. You may learn that a simple life can be much sweeter than you ever thought.

Remember That Experiences Are Far More Important Than Things
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In the beginning, I was worried that I would miss my favorite electronics. However, I learned that the absence of things didn't affect my life in a negative way. I didn't have to worry about losing valuables, because I didn't bring them with me. I had what I needed, and I felt comfortable knowing that I didn't need to go shopping or buy more things to feel fulfilled.

I continued to seek out experiences with incredible people and in beautiful places around the world. I sailed along the coast of Belize for three days with a group of strangers, and I spent the night on a volcano in Guatemala. These life-changing experiences were priceless, yet far more valuable than anything I could have purchased at the mall.

Focus On Quality Instead Of Quantity

Instead of bringing a large amount of things, consider focusing on the quality of the items you're brining. Purchase a backpack, shoes, and clothing that will stand the test of time. Do plenty of research to see which brands sell the most durable and versatile gear.

In addition, you likely have a favorite hoodie or pair of shoes that make you feel good. Focus on packing clothing items that make you feel good, and you won't have to worry about anything you've left behind.