When I was 22, I traveled through South America for the first time. I was an eager adventurer and lugged all of my backpacking gear with me from town to town, from hostel to hostel, from adventure to adventure. I wanted to be prepared for any trek or hike that presented itself. In my 5,500 cubic inch Lowe Alpine backpack I had all of my high end gear: $500 tent, $400 sleeping bag, $100 sleeping pad, $120 water filter, hundreds of dollars in high tech clothing…etc. My full backpack represented a $2,000+ investment, and for a dirt poor recent college grad, it represented my life savings too!
When I packed for this trip I thought my gear would be the key to unlocking all of the adventure that South America had in store. Instead, it became the opposite – a source of stress and worry. I heard story after story after story about luggage being stolen from buses, cut into at the airport to swipe things out of, disappearing from hostels. When we rode on buses, my backpack was strapped to the top with locals jumping up and down constantly adjusting the load, lifting items to the top of the bus, or lowering them down. Many of the buses stopped every 10 minutes, so I had to be constantly vigilant to be sure no one came down from the roof of the bus with my backpack or any of my gear.
When the bus eventually arrived at whatever destination we were going to, I was on pins and needles to see if my backpack would still be there. As it was lowered, taxi drivers would grab it and throw it in their vehicles to persuade us to hire them for a ride. I stressed that they would just drive off with it.
What I learned is that traveling simply means traveling free. I adopted a new traveling philosophy – all that was really needed was a small suitcase or backpack with a handful of changes of clothes, a swimsuit, extra footwear…etc. I packed my money, passport and credit cards in 1 or 2 money belts attached to my person. Then if someone ran off with my backpack, it was an easy process of just purchasing some clothes and shoes to replace what I’d lost. No more traveling with my life savings on my back, no more stress-filled traveling!
I’m now 39, and that backpack no longer represents my life savings, but the idea of traveling simply still appeals to me. It’s one of the great things about a Wildland International trek is that you don’t have to worry about bringing any of your own gear. We provide nearly all of it! You can enjoy your vacation without stress.
You’ll still have quite an assortment of clothes, footwear…etc. but you also won’t be strapping this stuff to the top of cheap mountain buses like I was. You’ll fly into an airport, and we take care of everything from there, so you can bring some higher end gear like photography equipment and still not stress.
Moral of the story? Pack light, travel simply, hire experts, enjoy life.
– Scott Cundy, Co-owner of Wildland International