So. THIS is what it’s like to travel alone. S-O-L-O, independent, strong and fierce and powerful YEAH. That’s me now, isn’t it? At the very least, I can tell you that’s who I’ve always wanted to be. One of those girls who could rock a big, fat, backpack and some ripped, muddy, sneakers better than any other accessory. I’ve crossed paths with a few of these girls, usually as I’m staggering into a hostel under the weight of my over-sized weekend bag or returning from a provisions run at the supermarket, arms laden with enough food to feed a small army; meanwhile they lounge about in headbands and wool socks and tribal printed pants, munching on perfectly portioned packages of nuts and dried fruit.
Travel excites me, and when I’m on the road, enthusiasm is the one area in which I am never lacking or underprepared. I may be bursting through the hostel doors loaded with enough gear to set up permanent residence, but I’ve also a huge, goofy grin plastered across my face. Seriously, it’s nothing short of a ridiculous smile, and I swear I’ve caught more than one of these hostel-dwelling travel goddesses shooting me a questioning/skeptical/concerned glance from their thrones of saggy chairs and old couches from across the reception room, like why is this girl so excited to be here right now and is she going to make it up the stairs with that backpack; but really what is in that thing did she pack a bag of bricks?
I know, I know. I’m a notorious over packer and no, I probably didn’t have to bring three pairs of shoes with me; and let’s face it, no one uses that much shampoo or eats that many granola bars in a weekend. The art of packing the perfect backpack is a process and, well, an art, one on which I’m clearly still working. But, this very far from perfect girl did just manage to pack for thirteen days of travel and fit it all in ONE normal sized travel backpack. She even managed to bring said-backpack as a carry-on on a Ryanair flight, and only had to wear three bras and five shirts and two jackets to keep it flat enough to get past the sizers. I purchased only a normal amount of granola bars, and have been using shampoo at an impressively controlled, I daresay even frugal rate. Every day I spend on the road makes me love the process even more, and makes that dumb smile just a little bit wider when I stumble through the doors of that night’s residence. And my role models across the room? Those hip and muddy and fabulous chicas have stopped looking incredulous, and sometimes smile and wave my direction before I even get the chance. And my sneakers are a little more dirty and ragged, my bag just a little bit more compact, and this time I didn’t forget to bring a towel/toothbrush/pants. Each day I improve just enough to keep me hopeful–that I may earn a place on my own old, saggy couch yet.