The following post was submitted by Karlie Marrazzo.
Even though I had traveled to 23 countries by the beginning of 2014 and I have a goal to visit 30 countries by the time I turn 30 years old, I must confess something: I had never traveled solely with a backpack or a carry on bag. Savvy world travelers everywhere swear by traveling light, and I was starting to feel like a fraud. It was time to take the leap.
My husband Dave and I were planning a two-week trip around Morocco, sandwiched between a few nights in Lisbon and London, for his 30th birthday. We were going to be taking eight flights, as well as long bus and train rides, traveling from blue-soaked Chefchaouen in the north to busy Fes and Marrakech, all the way to the Sahara Desert near the Algerian border.
Our traditional rolling suitcases just wouldn’t be practical for the amount of traveling or the different terrain we would be covering.
After asking around to friends who travel with backpacks and doing extensive research online (mostly on Her Packing List!), I decided to try on some Osprey packs at the locally run camping store. The session was very helpful and my husband and I each bought the Osprey Farpoint 70L, which comes with a 55L main pack and an attachable 15L day pack. I am a slim 5’6″ so I bought the S/M torso size.
In the weeks leading up to the trip, I was excited to take my new backpack for a spin around the world, but I tend to get a bit anxious and I wasn’t exactly sure how I would pack it properly or if it would be comfortable for me to carry all of that weight on my back. I did a couple of practice packs which put my mind slightly at ease.
It turned out that I didn’t have anything to worry about. Looking back on my 18-day trip now, there was never a moment where I was longing for my old suitcase. I didn’t use any packing cubes and while I did try to keep the weight distributed properly, it was my first time and I didn’t have the technique perfected yet. I generally didn’t find the backpack too heavy to carry as I usually didn’t have it on for more than 15 minutes at a time. When it did start to weigh on me, I would flip it around to the front kangaroo style, and it didn’t feel like I was carrying anything at all. This made navigating through the ancient medinas or running through Heathrow airport equally breezy.
On a more practical note, I also found it very easy to stay organized. I rolled all of my clothes and kept them together in the same general area of the pack – shirts is one area, undies in another, and so on. Since I had so little extraneous stuff with me, it was simple to lift items out, grab what I needed, and put the rest back exactly where it was.
It was imperative for me that my pack was a front loader, like a suitcase, and it did make everything super simple. I wondered if there would be enough room for me to bring things home, but I felt like this trip would be an exercise in scaling back. I was still able to bring home several pairs of Moroccan slippers and beautiful scarves. The whole shebang only weighed in at 11kg on the way home!
The absolute best part about carrying the Farpoint 70L with me was that, even though the dimensions are technically larger than the allowable carry on standard, I was still able to bring the whole thing with me onto a couple of the flights! I could always bring it through security, and when I wasn’t allowed to bring it into the cabin, I could check it at the gate and pick it up on the tarmac, which saved a lot of time. We had a 25-hour layover in London and wanted to pack in as much as we could, and Heathrow is notorious for long lines everywhere, so being able to save up to an hour by not waiting for luggage was crucial.
Now that I have successfully traveled to a country that would be challenging to navigate with a rolling suitcase, I can say with confidence that I have been converted to backpack life. I will challenge myself to use my Osprey Farpoint 70L on all of my trips, and I have already purchased the smaller 40L version for shorter getaways!
* * * * *
About the Author: Karlie is a 28-year old Canadian girl with an incurable case of wanderlust. She lives in the isolated winter land of Edmonton, Alberta and didn’t set foot on an airplane until she was 22. On her 25th birthday she set a personal goal to travel to 30 countries by the time she turned 30, and has already visited 25 with her travel partner and husband Dave. Her next big goal is to live abroad. Follow along with her at Miss Wanderlust, Facebook, Instagram (@misswanderlustca) and Twitter.