Well, we’ve been traveling through Europe for almost seven weeks now, and we’ve pretty much got this “backpacking” thing figured out. It certainly took some time, adjustment, and consolidation, but at this point we can backpack with the best of them. We can sleep in virtually any conditions, we can see an entire city for less than $10, and we can fit more into our backpacks than even the manufacturers knew was possible. I knew traveling to this many places on such a tight budget and so few belongings would be a challenge. But we’ve had to become so creative and resourceful that there are things I do as a backpacker, on a daily basis, that I would never even think about doing at home:

  • Take paper towels from public restrooms to use for later
  • Shower while wearing flip flops  
  • Wear shoes purely for comfort over style
  • Use Febreze as perfume
  • Ride public buses
  • Hitchhike
  • (Mom, just kidding)
  • Take as many ziploc bags from airport security as possible for food, toiletry, and underwear storage 
  • Drink boxed wine
  • On the sidewalk
  • Out of reused plastic cups 
  • Carry salt and pepper shakers through two airports and three different countries 
  • Eat leftover pasta out of a plastic bag on the floor of an airport 
  • Consider a “good night’s sleep” to be any night that I sleep horizontally
  • Wear the same shirt three days in a row
  • Without even realizing it
  • …or really caring 
  • Put on makeup using the selfie camera of my phone 
  • Wash my underwear in a communal bathroom sink with a bottle of shampoo/conditioner combo 
  • Consider my “going out” outfit to be any outfit with a scarf added
  • Use a shoelace as a drying rack
  • Sleep in a stranger’s home
  • Make one baguette stretch through five meals
  • Drink water from a public bathroom sink
  • Eat ice cream for lunch
  • Use hand sanitizer 
  • Sleep with my phone in my shirt
  • Sleep with my passport under my pillow
  • Use a McDonald’s bathroom to brush my teeth
  • Save leggings for “special occasions”
  • Hoard plastic bags
  • Crave salad
  • Spend hours somewhere just because it’s free (for example, a public park, or a tulip museum)
  • Day 2: consider a “good hair day” any day that my hair has gel and hairspray in it 
  • Day 17: consider a “good hair day” any day that my hair is clean
  • Day 46: consider a “good hair day” any day that I still have hair
  • Take utensils from a hostel breakfast to use for lunch 
  • Take food from a hostel breakfast to use for lunch
  • Go out to dinner with people I met fifteen minutes earlier 
  • Buy coffee at a cafe just to use their bathroom or their wifi
  • Consider inside-out underwear a brand new pair
  • Get excited for any meal eaten on a plate
  • Walk four miles to avoid paying for public transportation
  • Join a cult on accident 
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