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What's in Your Backpack?

I'm on a roll in the advice giving department so I'm going to keep going and pass along another hard-earned tip.

This time the topic is clothing and the secret that I am about to share with you is HUGE. It might just save you money and months of psychic distress.

The topic is travel clothing and the secret is...

Pack the clothes that you like to wear.

I know, I know, this may seem like the most obvious advice ever, kind of along the lines of Save Money, Live Better or Drink Water, Be Less Thirsty. But preparing for a long trip alters your brain. You get excited and in America, getting excited makes you want to buy things. Things like special anti-microbial underwear. And jackets that stuff into little pouches. And moderately ugly but extremely comfortable walking shoes.

So you start your trip with your new purchases and with some durable, casual clothing that you feel will hold up to the rigorous experience of being washed in someone else's washing machine. You congratulate yourself on how comfortable you are and how that blob of ketchup on your black skirt is totally not noticable.

And then reality sets in. You start to open your bag with despair*, knowing that there is absolutely nothing in there that you actually want to wear. You dream about the clothes you left behind. That awesome blazer that goes with everything. That high waisted pencil skirt that makes you feel like you're from the 20's. Those gorgeous red heels that are really pretty comfortable for heels.

Because the reality is that when you leave on a trip like this, you don't change into a new person. If you wear clothes that you think are "impractical" for life on the road, leaving them behind won't make you happy. It will make you sad and then it will make you poor as you spend all of your montly allowance buying new clothes that are just like the ones you left behind.

Just so we are clear, you will still wear the durable, casual clothing from time to time. Traveling days, camping days and hiking days will not be conducted in red heels and a blazer. But life on the road is more than constant traveling, camping and hiking (oh, the blasphemy!). Bring what you love. You won't regret it.

* The exception is obviously you lucky folks (read: Jonathan) who normally wear clothes that would be considered travel clothing. The only thing you will experience when you open your bags is satisfaction in having exactly what you want.

Photo courtesy of Udo Springfeld


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