Why backpacking makes you less materialistic

One of the thrills of being a backpacker is that you carry everything you own on your back. As a consequence, you obviously don’t want to carry heavy things around; you tend to get rid of useless things.

When I got home after living in Australia for a year, I was overwhelmed by how much clothes I had in my closet (things I had forgotten about – which means I didn’t need them…) My first reaction was that I wanted to throw it all away, after all, I didn’t need it; I had just managed to live a year without them. But then I realized it didn’t matter, I wouldn’t have to carry them all with me for months, they could stay at home in this wardrobe forever; who cared if I had 6 pairs of jeans instead of the 2 I usually travel with (an extra 4!) They didn’t have to fit into a hostel’s locker or suitcase anymore. All of a sudden; I wasn’t limited by space or weight.

I think being a backpacker changes your relationship with material possessions; when you have been careful not buying anything big, heavy, or useless for such a long period of time, it’s still set in your mind when you get home. I find that I have had a lot of difficulties dealing with how much stuff I owned at home and getting out of that “useful-stuff-only” mindset. For a while I was very caution about not buying books or shoes for some reason, because I still had it implented in my brain that I’d have to get rid of them. Same about clothes or beauty products, I felt I needed to get rid of something if I was to buy something new.

Even now, I still cannot deal with owning something I don’t use or owning a lot of things – which I did not mind before I started travelling.

Here’s a very interesting Ted talk  by Graham Hill from TreeHugger about how owning less = more happiness

Also, materialism breeds unhappiness , maybe that explains why we’re so happy backpacking…

Has anyone felt the same when going back home? Did you feel like your relationship toward material possessions had changed after travelling ?


One Comment Add yours

  1. Drew says:

    Great TED talk, one of my favorites!


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