Monday, August 17, 2009

Have we graduated?

As I stared at the collection of books, train toys, wipes, clothing and snacks overflowing from our backpacks, I had to ask the question: Have we, like most of our thirtysomething friends, graduated from traveling with backpacks? Most of my one-time-backpacker peers now sport those trendy black rolling suitcases, with cute little luggage tags. Eddie and I, however, have yet to ascent to those heights.

Often I find myself wishing for more space to bring more crap--I mean wouldn't my life in Bangkok be better with a cotton pantsuit scored at an Egyptian market??? But inevitably, I always end up piling heaps of clothing back in the closet and only bringing what fits in my trusty circa 1994 blue backpack.

You wouldn't know it by the looks of me, but my travel tastes have shifted. Take, for example, our upcoming trip to Thailand: We plan to stay in the luxe Dusit Thani hotel in Bangkok (a steal for under a hundred bones), and then fly to Phuket to enjoy a one-bedroom beachfront villa at the Indigo Pearl Hotel (another steal we found on Agoda) and finally,we'll wrap up the "adventure" with another plush villa at Railay Bay Resort. I always have this feeling of being the kid sneaking into a casino when I approach these lovely hotels wearing a dirty backpack that has seen better days.

Yet, I can't bring myself to retire the old gal. Sure, it can be said that I have long relationships with the various "things" that mean a lot to me. My first car "Me Amiga" lasted a decade; I tend to fashion the same clothes way longer than I should; and I have sported the same combat boots for longer than I will ever admit. But can I let go of my backpack? She and I have traveled to over thirty countries together, with her guarding my belongings from dusty deserts, torrential tropical storms, aggro baggage handlers--she even lived to tell of a small tear in her zipper during a month-long trek through Brazil (you've got to love Eagle Creek's lifetime warranty). She joined me on my first solo transcontinental trip, when I circumnavigated the globe on a ship, when I got married, and even when I gave birth.

But as I look at her now, bursting at the seams, carrying goods for myself and little Kai, I wonder if this will be her last major journey. And if so, does this mean I am all grown up?

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