I cast one last guilty look as I walked off and left you there. It was awful leaving you the way I did. It paid no respect to our history—nearly forty countries in less than four years since we first began traveling together. But I had to move on. And as much as I want to say it was just a matter of practicality it had actually been a long time coming. I had outgrown you, both literally and metaphorically.
When I arrived at the airport in Porto, Portugal to start the journey to Iceland I knew my suitcase was over the limit. It was the heaviest it had ever been. I looked up the airlines baggage allowance online- 20 kilograms it said. But, being American, I don’t have a grasp of kilos. I asked a local friend how much he thought it weighed. Closer to thirty kg’s, he estimated.
I immediately started thinking of a solution. Option number one was to ship the things I wouldn’t need to my next destination. I gave this option serious thought but it just didn’t make sense. Most of the things I would be shipping were cheap H&M clothes. Why spend $80 to ship $50 worth of clothes? It would be easier and cheaper to replace the clothes later.
Option number two was to trim the fat- getting rid of anything I really didn’t need to get the bag within weight allowances.
The only item that gave me pause was my backpack. The large, 50-liter backpack I had started my trip with nearly two and a half years ago. I had honestly begun separating myself from it months ago. When I started the blog and began working with hotel brands I felt it looked unprofessional to show up with a backpack. So I bought a more traditional suitcase. But, due to sentimental reasons, I still carried the backpack. Only now I carried it inside my new, fancy rolling suitcase.
I decided to hope for best and pack it, thinking maybe the suitcase wasn’t as heavy as we thought. Just to be sure, I packed all items deemed non-essential in the backpack and tucked it away into the suitcase.
The Moment of Truth
As I entered the airport and stepped up to the counter to check in I placed the suitcase on the scale, smiling politely. The hope being if it was slightly over the attendant would forgive me if I was friendly. “Sir, your bag is over the allowed weight”, she informed me. I did my best to play shocked. “By how much?” I asked. When she told me 5 kilos I had no idea how much that was. A little, a lot- who knows? I don’t speak metric.
I reluctantly removed the backpack full of items and placed the case back on the scale. “How much now?” I asked. “Twenty kilos- perfect!” she said.
Just to be sure I was making the right decision I asked what it would cost for the overage. At thirteen euro a kilo I was looking at sixty-five euro for this flight alone. Also, I had two more upcoming flights on other budget airlines to think about. Quick math put that at nearly 200 euro—more than four times what I initially paid for the backpack.
Was I willing to pay 200 euro for a sentimental attachment?
Apparently, since I left the bag on the floor next to a trashcan in a busy airport the answer is no.
Let’s hope that the abandoned bag didn’t cause any security issues with airport police. Several people pointed that out to me after I told them about leaving it the way I did.
I do have regrets though. Had I had more time I would have found some young broke backpacker and donated it to them. Carried on the legacy, in a way.
Hopefully some employee takes it upon him or herself to save the well-worn pack and pass it on to someone deserving.
For now, I’m off to put some miles on the replacement. I suppose it’s more of an upgrade than a replacement, I’m afraid. This one has wheels! And a handle! And instead of carrying everything I own on my back I’ll now drag my worldly possessions behind me.
I really need to streamline– the five kilos I left on the airport floor was just the start. I see all these travelers on long term trips with only a carryon bag. I’m actually carrying more now two and a half years into the trip than I was when I started with just the backpack. It’s really actually kind of ridiculous. You would think after traveling for this long I would have figured out how to get by with the bare essentials. I probably don’t need all of this:
We’ll see how long the fancy rolling suitcase lasts. I’m sure at some point a wheel will fall off and I’ll curse the thing, missing my old trusty pack. But until then, I’ll be on the lookout for a stranger carrying my old travel friend, making their own memories.