Six months shy of my 18th birthday I went on my first international trip—Australia, where my younger brother would box a kangaroo. I kid you not. Well, I’d been to Canada and Mexico, but according to my teenage self those places didn’t count…yet. I didn’t have the bag. As a child I imagined—but never thought it’d happen—traveling the world with a hard-shelled suitcase dotted with stickers from all the exotic places I’d visit. My travels couldn’t begin until I had the perfect luggage.
My mother and step dad Dan gifted me the bag—a bluish-green Eagle Creek backpack—just shy of eighteen years ago. This bag has been with me on every trip that’s counted (and even some that haven’t like, for example, my weekly trips down to the Bitterroot to hang out with my dad whose wanderlust he passed on to me and who regularly surrenders to his). While it doesn’t have stickers, my bag does have patches—including one from our neighbors to the north and south—strategically sewn on to highlight some of the special places and things I’ve done: rock climbing in Joshua Tree with my younger brother, living in Colombia and Philadelphia (the greatest city in the world), studying abroad in Ireland, sailing around Cape Horn with my dad.
I remember when it had just one—a round patch with a manta ray on it I picked up after snorkeling off Lady Elliot Island, the southernmost coral cay in the Great Barrier Reef. On a recent trip to Joshua Tree, again with my brother, a baggage handler at the Missoula airport commented, “Those are a lot of patches.” The bag and I have racked up a few but we’re still eagerly collecting patches and memories. We’ve been on this journey together, so I was a bit surprised to find out it’s called the Solo Journey bag. As anyone who has taken a trip solo can tell you, you’re never really alone when you travel.