NotMom on The Go: My Stolen Secret for Criss-Crossing Europe
I am so grateful that I have been able to enjoy a good deal of international travel in my adult life,
and it’s not slowing down now that I’m over 40. After approaching these trips in different ways, I
have come to a simple conclusion: I don’t ever want to check luggage at an airport again.
And while roll-aboards are popular and efficient, I believe the 20-something college graduates
who stuff their entire lives into a backpack before heading into the unknown really do know
what they’re doing.
I spent the better part of Summer 2017 researching backpacks before visiting Belgium and the
Netherlands. With our backpacks, and only our backpacks, Matt and I easily navigated airports,
customs, and the streets completely hands free. Walking through the old cities of Brussels, Bruges, and Amsterdam, I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I heard the scraping of plastic wheels across historic cobblestone streets.
The plastic wheels of tourists’ luggage will one day wear away the footprints of our ancestors
and tracks of their wagon wheels. As they went about their daily lives, several locals commented on how much more quiet visitors are without wheeled luggage. Our backpacks took up only a fraction of the space in overhead bins on planes, so we didn’t have to find a place for them away from our seats. This made getting off the plane easier too since we could quickly grab our bags and go, sliding them on our backs as we walked, once again freeing up our hands to go through passport control.
I also learned that even paring down what I was bringing still left me with items of clothing I
never bothered to wear. That skirt, nice blouse, and sandals? Never even touched. Over
packing is a thing, even for experienced minimalists. What to Look For In the end, I chose the
Osprey Ozone 46L travel pack. (#NoAd) I visited several outdoor equipment stores before arriving at the decision. And as much as I wanted to support a local store, I ended up buying it on Amazon for less than local stores were charging. Why did this bagmake the cut?
Capacity to fit a week’s worth of clothes and an extra pair of shoes. An easily accessible laptop pouch to fit my 15-inch computer.
Good weight distribution for comfort while walking. Plus, the Osprey comes in a fun Hoodoo red color, and I just had to have it. Of course, the bag isn’t without its faults. The laptop sleeve is in the main compartment, so when opening the bag to get your computer through TSA, you run the risk of exposing your contents if you’re not careful. This could be remedied by using packing
cubes, which many other travelers recommended highly. I didn’t follow that advice this trip, but I would consider it in the future.
And just because the pack was relatively comfortable doesn’t mean I wanted to wear it and walk
around all the time. I was grateful whenever we arrived at our accommodations so I could shed
my turtle shell and face exploring unencumbered.