Why I Only Took a Backpack on a Trip Across America

My family and friends thought I was crazy when I told them I want to only take a backpack. I did it anyway, and here’s what I found…

The backpack I took across America

Right now, I am wrapping up a 10 day road trip from Orlando to San Diego. The purpose of this post is to explain why I only took a backpack on a trip across America and to inspire you to do the same.

Ever since I watched the video of Jordan Pearce reducing his worldly possessions to the contents of a backpack and hitting the road, I have wanted to do the same. My friend was moving to San Diego and was driving from Miami. When he offered me a spot on the journey, I saw a perfect opportunity to hit the road with only a backpack.

Doing this has taught me the cost of carry and the three freedoms of traveling light.

The Cost of Carry

Imagine owning a dream home, nice cars, a yacht, an airplane, and a vacation home to boot. That’s the American Dream.

Many people dream about one day obtaining such luxuries. Ambitious goal-setters determine how much money they need to make to one day buy a yacht and live the Dream. However, most people overlook the second cost.

Everything comes with 2 costs:

1. The Cost to Obtain
2. The Cost to Maintain

The cost to maintain is also known as the cost of carry. Reducing my costs of carry has given me more freedom in three important areas.

The Three Freedoms of Traveling Light

That contents of my backpack

Here’s the contents of the bag. Next time I will go even lighter.


Traveling light gave me more free time. I spent less time organizing or collecting my stuff. With some extra experimentation, my travel kit can get even more efficient.


My mind felt lighter. Every item cut out is one less thing to worry about.


Location is my favorite freedom that traveling light offers. My mind was less preoccupied with keeping track of items. This helped me feel more connected to the place I was experiencing. Plus, being able to pick up and go easily made adventuring more accessible.

In Sum

Limiting myself to a backpack helped me reduce my cost of carry and enjoy the three freedoms of traveling light. With more time, energy, and ability to pick up and go – this particular travel experience offers an abundance of opportunities to explore and feel at peace with the world. With that said, I hope you feel inspired to fit your life into a backpack and hit the road now.

Chase the adventure. To ∞ and Beyond…


Jordan Pearce’s Spirit Quest

100 Possessions: How Giving Up Everything Can Make Your Life More Full

Rolf Potts’ Vagabonding

 Question: Would you be willing to travel with only a backpack? Why? You can leave a comment below.

4 responses to “Why I Only Took a Backpack on a Trip Across America”

  1. This is right on point. I just camped and fly fished for the month of July by myself out in Colorado and northern New Mexico. I only had the bare essentials and the experience compared to this very similarly.

  2. Your Blog topic reminded me of a life experience that happened to me in my early 40’s…And it’s forever changed the way I feel about material possesions….
    I experienced a life shattering event that left me standing one morning outside waiting for a taxi with one smallish piece of luggage that contained absolutely everything that I owned….mostly some clothes,some photos, (before digital!) and a few other cherished mementos that I had managed to be able to keep….no need to explain how this happened because in that moment all of that was behind me.But as I stood waiting for that taxi I experienced a feeling of freedom that there are no words to describe except one….FREE! Now because the Universe abhors a vacuum within a few years it gifted me with all that I had “lost” and much much more<3…I will never forget that feeling of Freedom, and my possessions now are really not important to me….And I have to say that from time to time I will clear out, pass on and declutter…. I'm a minimalist at heart and I think I may be attempting to re experience that moment of Freedom….and a whole new Life Adventure!
    Thanks for writing about this topic Michael !

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