My travel bag is a special backpack that is an essential for any trip. The top half is a typical backpack, and the bottom has a secret compartment for my camera. This bit of luggage becomes a part of me when exploring new cities. It goes everywhere I go, as an extension of my shoulders, even if there is a suitcase at the hotel or a REI Traverse Evening Star left behind at the hostel. I quickly realized on a recent trip to Edinburgh that all I really needed was my special backpack and one change of clothes.
I did not bring the Evening Star on this trip. For some reason, I listened to my mother as I packed.
“You never know when you may go out for a nice dinner and wear a nice dress. It could be stored nicely in a nice suitcase,” she said.
I do not normally wear nice dresses. The City Hostel did not require a nice dress. I did not wear the nice dress at any time in Scotland.
Not that there is anything wrong with luggage. It is necessary when traveling for any length of time. The problem is that sooner or later, luggage becomes…well…a problem. For example, when I entered the City Hostel in Edinburgh, I had my suitcase with me, dragged by its useful handle and mini-wheels. My faithful backpack with the hidden compartment was across my shoulders.
The hostel was located at the top of a spiral staircase, the accompanying wall humorously painted with sweating backpackers, as if to satirize your own personal ascent. What a joke! I would have given anything for my full REI Traverse Evening Star backpack at the top of the third landing, heading on the fourth. I was cursing myself for bringing the spectacle on wheels in the first place.
Suitcases are unnecessary burdens, I thought as I left the City Hostel (towing the case back down the stairs). I found my nifty suitcase on wheels a burden dragging it “up” the cobblestones of the Royal Mile. Was this thing supposed to go with me all the way to Inverness? I decided to take the Buddhist approach of detachment, to lighten up. I dropped the suitcase in storage while I trekked three days through the Highlands. There would, I was sure, be no need for the nice dress. I felt extremely carefree and unencumbered with only my small backpack with the concealed camera compartment and a few articles of clothing. This was the way to travel. Even the Evening Star couldn’t give me this much mobility and freedom.
Other tourists stood waiting for a bus with luggage piled high. The bus arrived and passengers shifted their mound of burdens, hefting them into the back of the bus. Or rather, Hamish, our Highlands bus driver did the hefting. Suddenly, panic ensued as several tourists realized that necessary minutiae were shoved in the bottom of their cases. Loads of luggage were transferred back off the bus by an interminably patient Hamish.
While the other passengers were busy transferring various items into their fanny packs, Hamish smiled at me warmly, grateful that I had no luggage to lift for a short three-day tour.
“Ye have all ye need, then, lass?”
I patted my faithful daypack, one change of clothes and camera ready in its secret zipper. “Yes, I have everything I need.”