Contents of the Single Backpack I Returned Home with After a Year of Travel

  • 1 llama sweater from Peru
  • 2 travel journals (completely filled)
  • 1 XL sleeping sheet with new stains from the floor of the LaGuardia Airport
  • 1 ribbed tank top from my wedding sporting Amazon River mud stains and the word “bride” written across the front
  • 1 survivor of a D700 Nikon Camera (complete with cracked lens)
  • 1 barely functioning HP laptop with a year’s worth of photos waiting to be edited
  • 1 kindle (every Harry Potter book re-read)
  • 2 Ziploc bags of clothes (1 pair of faded jeans, 1 skirt, two shirts, 2 sets of underwear that used to be white)
  • 1 purple and yellow dyed bra from the Festival of Colors in India
  • 1 pair of running shoes too small for swollen feet
  • 1 iPhone that forgot how to function out of airplane mode
  • 1 miscellaneous Ziploc bag (a frayed toothbrush, Indian toe rings, half a pack of blister tape, a spork from a Swede, a bottle of ibuprofen, a Virgin Mary pendant on a blue thread from a nun)
  • 1 seashell to prove I was a pilgrim and walked across Spain for more than a month

Moral of this story? Collect experiences, not things.

Rachel Rueckert

Rachel Rueckert is a writer, photographer, teacher, and travel addict with a background in English and anthropology. Though she is based out of Boston, she is currently backpacking around the world doing an independent writing and research project on marriage around the globe with her new husband.

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14 Responses

  1. I think this is great! I remember going home after almost two years of travel and everyone just wondering whether I forgot my luggage. Travelling light is great, stuff is overrated! 🙂

    • Rachel Rueckert says:

      I agree! I hope to keep it in mind when I have to unpack my storage unit… yikes!

  2. Rolfe says:

    Thanks Rachel and Austin. I learned a lot by your trip.

  3. Nathalie says:

    Hi Rachel! Waouuuhhh there is hope for me then. After 4 months on a trip around the world my bag seems to be twice as much filled as yours! I still have to learn to get rid of stuff 🙂

  4. RichardAB says:

    Well said Rachel!
    You definitely travel light, but how much fuller have you come back from your travels. Fuller of life, experiences, interests. More wise, but hopefully still the same dreamer.

  5. Alton Morron says:

    Nice article, thanks for sharing!

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