When we travel, by whatever means, our carried possessions become routines. They provide comfort; shared memories of the past places we’ve been. Some are out of necessity, while others we choose. Aside from the essentials—food, water, and shelter—there is still one thing I could never travel without. Well, I couldn’t pick just one...so I’ll share my practical and non-practical favorites.
Practical: My Snow Peak titanium spoon. The simplest, and usually the only form of cookware I carry. It will carefully help me to sprinkle spices on my tortilla dinners and it always seems to find the bottom of the peanut butter jar. When somebody offers a bite, my spoon is there. As I march through a grocery store, hungry and fatigued from hiking, I’ll stumble upon the ice cream isle. With spoon in hand, I can begin to work my way through a pint of Ben & Jerry’s before reaching the check-out aisle. Let me tell you, after extensive miles on foot, nothing is more satisfying than instant gratification.
Not so Practical: Stamps. It’s easy to underestimate the satisfaction of non-practical items we travel with. Gear and clothes are no brainers, but often their comforts are purely physical. A few years ago, while hiking the Appalachian Trail, I discovered my love for writing. I’ve always been stronger in expressing myself through written word than spoken, so I began writing postcards. I’d send them to family, friends and the kids I had watched for years, whom I loved and missed seeing everyday. This became my form of creative expression, in an environment where it was abundantly flowing. I enjoyed being disconnected- refusing to blog, scarcely checking in or updating social media (clearly, that has changed). Sending postcards was my intimate way of sharing a piece of my journey with those I cared about. My hiking partner used to tease me about how long I’d spend on each postcard, using every inch of blank space to pack more words into. Sometimes it’s impractical how much time I spend on them, especially when I have errands or other important business to take care of during town stops. But this is a piece of my travels now, one I never plan on giving up. So instead, I’ve simply gotten more efficient. I always have a sheet of postcard stamps with me so whenever I grab a handful of cards, I can conveniently send them in a business’s outbox or mail bin without having to wait in long lines at the Post Office.