“My husband loves this Orvis Backpack. He has had a similar backpack for the past 30 years which has been with him constantly, to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Dubai, Ecuador, Africa,Denmark, Iceland, England, France, Greece, Spain, Italy and very where in between. He has travelled far and wide for his military career and his backpack is his constant companion!” – Flashgrrr from Newport, RI
A chance encounter with a collection of leather luggage has me seriously reconsidering my traveling style. I’ve always been a “college kid on her junior year abroad” kind of traveler. A few years have now passed since graduation. I got married. I’m raising two boys. But when I travel I still throw a giant harness backpack over my shoulders like Reese Witherspoon in “Wild.”
I always liked traveling that way. Having everything I needed in one place made for adventures I might have missed towing traditional luggage along. My trusty backpack enabled me race flat out through a ferry terminal in England to catch a boat to Ireland. Aboard that ferry, I chanced to make friends with wonderful people who would be my traveling companions on the Emerald Isle for weeks to come.
For our honeymoon, my husband and I backpacked through France and Italy. We had hotel reservations for only the first and last few nights of the journey. With ease, we added Nice to our itinerary, relocate to a better hotel in Rome near the Spanish Steps, and took advantage of a last-minute room opening in Venice that a friend in Rome set up. Our hotel suite had a Juliet balcony and a windowed-room that traversed a canal. Molto romantico. We spent the night drinking wine and watching gondolas pass beneath us.
These happy memories are due, in part, to our backpacks. But as I gazed at the leather luggage, less pleasant memories started coming to mind. In a backpack, your belongings are mostly thrown into one cavernous pit. If you don’t pack with care, it’s easy to lose a toothbrush and never see it again. Non romantico.
That clearly wouldn’t occur with the leather carry-on I was eyeing. It had neat compartments inside and out to keep all of your things handy and organized.
The weight of my backpack also came back to me as I looked at the bag’s wheels. Hoisting a heavy pack is fine, even character-building when you are 20 years old. But now? I spent years carrying my two children in slings and harnesses on my front and my back. Now they are old enough to walk and it may be time to put all that heavy lifting behind me.
In reminiscing about my journeys, I treasure above all the bonds with family and friends that deepen as we share the joys and challenges of travel. While I had affection for the ever-worsening state of my backpacks, eventually they had to be discarded and replaced. I’ve learned that leather luggage breaks in and keeps up with you through the years rather than falling to pieces. It improves and softens with age, time and heavy use. I think I’m about ready for such a constant companion in my travels going forward.