There is something special about a backpacking trip – that feeling of excitement and exhiliration that leaves one breathless, akin to being let loose in a toy store as a kid probably.
On a recent section hike of the famed Pacific Crest Trail, the trail was my proverbial toy store. The (almost) scarcity of technology was a welcome relief at times, except when I was trying to figure out where I was exactly. There was an app for that!
I had plenty of time for contemplation. Between switchbacks, mountain ridges, fire roads and downhill sections, my thoughts were resonant and unfiltered. I thought of how the various components of backpacking can be applied to real-life and making (or saving) money.
It’s true that the between the costs of acquiring a tent, a backpack and the various backpacking essentials, the purchases can add up. But one can buy or rent used equipment, just like appliances or furniture. One of my hiking buddies swears by EBay while others have taken a liking to local REI garage sales which are usually once a year. I spread out my purchases over time and re-used things I already owned like trekking poles, hiking boots and rain gear. So one decides if an initial investment in gear is worth it or renting is a better option. It could also apply to relationships. I often ask myself now – is it worth getting invested in some people or should some be let go?
It hit me on day two or three probably. Everything I really need in life can fit inside a 60-liter backpack. Of course, there are a few exceptions. I didn’t have my passport or my laptop with me. Even my trusted coffeemaker, that I thought I couldn’t live without it, is apparently dispensable. A tiny camping stove can do the job just as well. So on the trails, I learned to live simply and I hope to apply this principle to other areas of my life as well. I don’t need to keep on accumulating stuff. Simple is good. Simple saves money.
If you’re into any type of endurance sports, you will really learn about perseverance. We had short day hikes and long day hikes a.k.a. one-foot-in-front-of-the-other type of days. I had many of the latter which teach you that if you really want to achieve something big, you just have to stick with the program. What’s that saying – quitters don’t win and winners don’t quit? Or something along those lines.
Head outside soon and be one with your backpack!
Mira Reverente is associate editor of CVH and a longtime journalist whose work has appeared in many local publications. Her first book on money came out last fall. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, for more money savviness tips.