You know you’ve been backpacking a while when you can change your clothes in the dark

 

Deciding to pack your stuff into bags just for the sake of leaving everything behind is a privilege. It’s not like when you’re an immigrant or refugee and have no choice about what you do, and mostly, where you’ll go and how they’ll receive you.

Inevitably you’ll be limited to several clothes you become attached to despite their frayed ends, how worn they become after being treated to harsh washing treatments. In my case, I can change my clothes in the dark with ease.

I’ve spent the past six months with a limited wardrobe, aided only by finding a few jackets and sweaters at hostels so I won’t have to spend more than my budget allows.

You learn that even though dressing fashionably would be nice, you really need to be practical about what you wear. Stuff that matches. Socks that are the same length. A pair of hiking boots over high heels for the slippery colonial streets and for the inevitable treks through snow or even the Amazon.

I’ve spent so much time with these same clothes I don’t need to see them anymore. I can tell when they’re backward, which is the front and back, and I learned to leave shyness behind because most backpackers aren’t really concerned with when you change your clothes. We’ve all seen a butt.

The thing is, you stop picturing the idea of having a closet. The thought of having more than two or three pairs of shoes might even become unbearable as you try to figure out how you’ll fund your next trip somewhere else, where you can get a visa on arrival, and when you try to figure out how to stay immune to altitude.

In the meantime, you feel free after having just enough. You get dressed in the dark.

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