Am I a Dirty Backpacker?

Edited: #FBF (that means Flashback Friday) I wrote this post back in 2014. I believe this specific post was written when I was in Croatia, nearing the end of my trip. I intended to add photos of the clothing but I never got around to it. Enjoy.

One of the glorious things about being a backpacker (I consider it glorious) is the lack of stuff. Since I have to schlep all my belongings from place to place, plus unpack and repack every few days, the fewer items I have the easier my life is. Currently, I carry a 50L Osprey backpack acquired in December 2008 along with a 20L North Face Day pack acquired in December 2013 (ETA: I now carry a 40L pack and the same 20L day pack). Though neither pack is at capacity, I sometimes feel bogged down with stuff. When this happens by far the easiest items to shed are clothing. Most other categories of ‘stuff’ I can’t cut down more than I already have; I need my shampoo, razor, chargers, cables etc. Clothing however, is usually an easy place to cutback.

Unfortunately, I am currently carrying around a bit more clothing than I actually wear, mostly because I feel bad leaving clothing behind that I paid for, even if it is falling apart or I don’t wear it. I am getting to the point though, where I cannot shed much more clothing, otherwise I will not having anything to wear. As such, my clothes are wearing out. Quickly. For the last month or so, I’ve been wearing the same 2 dresses virtually everyday.

Dress 1- Acquired in April 2012. It has holes it. Multiple holes. And stains.

Dress 2- Acquired in April 2014 from Salvation Army for $5. It also has a small hole. And a stain.

Regardless, I continue to wear these dresses, usually 4-5 times each before I wash them.

As for the rest of my clothing, it too is wearing out or stained. Take this sleeveless top. Acquired in July 2011. Stained and holes. Or this shirt. Acquired in June 2009 for a trip to southeast Asia. Or this top, acquired in December 2011. Luckily it doesn’t have holes, but it does have a stain.

Point is, I may be turning into/am a dirty backpacker. I wear stained clothing, that may also have holes in it, which I do not wash often enough. Don’t judge me.

Also, my hair. You know dreadlocks? Well I venture to guess most of those with dreads are backpackers. No joke. I’ve met countless travelers with dreads (and beards. Lots and lots of unruly beards). In real life I’ve met very, very few people with dreads. Though I am not nearly that bad, I used to be a frequent hair washer. Now, not so much. It started in Waiheke when I wanted to conserve shampoo (it’s expensive). I decreased my hair washing to every 2-3 days. That habit never went away though, even when I had ample amounts of shampoo. Depending on where I am and my schedule, I’ll go 3-5 days without washing my hair. I have had the same bottle of shampoo for 4 months. Depending on the length of your hair you may think this is a really long time, or a short time. My hair is quite long now, so one bottle lasting 4 months is, in fact, a very long time. (ETA: I now wash my hair in the 5-7 day range. This habit only got worse).

Additionally, I brush my hair far less often. I used to brush it everyday. Now, it’s maybe every 2-3 days. Actually, my curls look better if I don’t brush it at all. But in the back of my mind is my mother’s voice saying “Aren’t you going to brush that?” She scarred me. Sorry, Mom. (ETA: This habit also got worse. I only brush my hair when I wash it).

Does this make me a dirty backpacker? Maybe? Probably? Crap. It does.


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