One can find a thousand packing lists online. It depends on the place, the weather, the time of year. Whatever. I’m not writing about that.
As in any circumstance, its not the material items that are most important, although they may seem so. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – the material goods are on bottom. Frankly, it doesn’t matter how good your gear is if your head isn’t in the right place.
I’ve been thinking about metaphorical baggage a lot. When you travel, you leave a lot of your life behind. Obviously you bring the personal parts with you, but the people, places and of inevitably things in your life stay behind. But how do you know what to keep with you in your memory and in your heart, and what to leave behind.
Friends, family, love, passions. What comes and what stays?
For me, this has been on my mind due to the issue of cycling. I arrived in France with the Romantic vision of cutting my teeth on the European racing scene. But three months in, I can clearly see the life I live here in Paris doesn’t accomodate this. It is costly to race here in France, and I don’t have the time. I could join a team easily, but come racing season, get my ass dropped because of insufficient training. Why? Because I have 4 days at least each week with absolutely no time to ride my bike. Add to that the month I’ll be traveling for winter break, and my training would be a joke.
Therefore, it seems as if, cycling is something I should leave behind to an extent. Obviously I will never disregard my trusty Tarmac, but I can’t ride like I do at home. Clinging on to things passions that can’t rationally be accommodated while traveling hold a traveler back. To train in earnest and pursue cycling here would sacrifice he things I can only do here while living in Paris, and to a greater extent, in Europe.
There’s more to it, on an emotional level. Its a tough thing to do, but you must get over your deep connections to home. Homesickness, and overly intense interpersonal relationships minimize the travel experience. You can’t fully appreciate a place or an experience if part of you has been left behind. To truly take advantage of what you’re doing, you can’t be looking back at what you left behind, it takes away focus and conviction.
To travel is to express the soul’s freedom, and the soul can’t be truly free if it clings to the past, and to home. That is not to say that home and relationships should be forgotten. On the contrary, they should be treasured, yet in a fashion that allows one to look positively back on them without wishing to return. Travel is completely a forward experience, and nothing should hold you back.
Remember, its a personal decision. While one person can pack their life into a backpack and set sail for years, others need constant reminders of home. Rather than finding a prescribed method of traveling, it is necessary to remember that as everyone is different, so is the way they travel. Therefore, everyone must find a different way to hold on to memories, as long as they don’t impede the creation of new memories.
I’ve learned that life is different when you travel, because you sink into new cultures and habits. Therefore, its necessary to leave certain things behind, and bring some with you. Of course, you can’t abolish your personnage, but as well, you can’t be stuck in the past. Find the things you hold close to your heart that you need to bring with you when you travel, and discover what you can leave at home to free your soul. Home always awaits, so something left behind is not lost of forgotten, it is merely treasured in a nostalgic sense until it is rediscovered. Let go of your inhibitions and let your spirit guide you. Adventure on.