By the time I left China – after fourteen months of travels – I had lost 10 kilos. Well, I myself had lost only about four but my backpack surely lost five or six! I’ll give you the recipe right away.
For the first four kilos, the ones your own body will be loosing, it’s dead easy. You can either:
- travel to a country where the climate is really hot, let’s say India in the summertime, and you won’t be hungry, so you’ll eat less, so you’ll lose weight (don’t forget to drink though!)
- travel to a country where you can’t afford food, let’s say Hong-Kong, and you’ll be a little hungry all the time but you’ll still lose weight (it was hot there as well, but AC changes everything)
For the other five or six kilos, the ones your backpack will be loosing, it’s not much harder. You just have to:
- be a little (or very) forgetful like me and scatter some items all over the places you visit
- be as generous as possible – if someone likes something of yours, give it to them; and if someone will be needing one piece of equipment more than you will, give it to them as well
However, be aware that people will want to give you things as well, gifts most of the time. Be firm and refuse the bulky/heaving ones or you’ll soon be putting on weight again (this works also for fat food and sweets). Luckily what people gave me was mostly jewellery (easy to lose but lightweight) and food (easy to it or drink up if it gets to heavy).
Following those rules, this is what happened to me.
In the lost&forgotten category
- I forgot my travel towel in Sofia – I know it was in this small flat somewhere, but the towel was grey, somehow I couldn’t find it and we had to go, so I left it behind
- I lost my mittens and a winter hat that wasn’t mine on the Silky Way. I was a little upset because I thought I was being very careful about them and because the mittens were great, and I was very upset because the hat wasn’t even mine. The owner of the hat was traveling with me at the time and luckily he was a Buddhist. He raised his voice a little “Now you stop this right away or I am going to get angry at you. You’re being silly – it was just a hat, it doesn’t matter. No attachment, remember?”
- I forgot my travel trousers in Yerevan. I put them to dry somewhere in the flat and left them there. Küç picked them up on her way back and wore them I believe, so as long as they are not useless I am happy.
- I forgot two pretty scarves at my hosts’ in Bhubaneswar. I was a little upset because I had just both two sets of them and set one to my sister as a birthday gift. I thought it would be cool for us to wear the same scarves thousands of kilometres apart. I think I forgot them before she even got the package…
- I left a pair of socks and a nice technical wash-cloth to dry in the sun at an altitude camp during the trek in the Himalaya and forgot them there. I hope the next group of trekkers used them.
- I forgot in Chennai two shirts I had bought in Turkey. I actually was planning on giving them to poor people but I forgot them in the wardrobe. I should actually ask Basu if by any chance he carried out my plan and gave them to someone.
- I lost my Iranian leef (a sort of loofah, just a simple washcloth to scrub yourself) somewhere in China, I suspect it was in Hangzhou. I think this was the item I was the saddest to lose, because Iran is very dear to me. So this little loofah didn’t only make my skin beautifully soft, it had also a sentimental value
- I lost my day-pack rain-cover at the end of a rainy day in Wenzhou. It sucked for very practical reasons: it protects all my electronic devices and my numerous notebooks from getting wet. And it was rather expensive so I wasn’t very happy with myself on that one (I got lucky with the rain after that, didn’t need it again until now but I still haven’t replaced it)
- I lost my rain jacket on the way to the Great Wall – well, I was planning on giving it to someone anyway because I found it too heavy, but lost it before I could do that. I just hope someone found it and will use it. And I could have spent a warmer night with it that same day I lost it (the magic emergency blanket did the trick so I was fine)
- Oh, and I lost the cap of my camera lens at my parents’ in France. It is rather ironic since I had managed not to lose that cap for fourteen months in dozens and dozens of places. All that care to finally see it disappear in the hay at my parents’
So, on a map it would look like that:
In the I-am-so-generous category
Remember to be generous. The point is not to get rid of stuff as quick as possible. I only give things away to people I know will use them and/or be happy to receive them. I sometimes carried items for months until I found the right person to give it to. This is how it went for me:
- I left on purpose in Istanbul a pair of trousers and my summer sleeping bag. I heard they have lived a happy life being used by other people since
- I exchanged in Ushguli the cool hat I had bought in Istanbul. Then I left that new beautiful but big Georgian hat in Yerevan with Artyom.
- in Yerevan I gave Alfie my tent. He was going back to Italy as fast as possible and might need it. It is supposedly still mine if I go to Italy to pick up, but I hope that someone is using it.
- in Teheran I gave Küç a skirt I had bought in a thrift shop in Yerevan and never worn, along with one of my two fleece jackets and a long-sleeved t-shirt. She was going to spend the winter in Armenia and would need it more than I.
- in Isfahan I gave Goli my nice but now slightly too big vanity case
- in Shiraz, I gave Fulvia the Indian kurta that Küç had given me when I arrived in Iran. She herself got it from Julia and we had decided this kurta should stay in Iran with female solo travellers
- I gave Laci my second travel towel in Shiraz. I think an Iranian or Indian cotton towel serves the same purpose with more class and less questionable smells.
- I gave Basu my inflatable mattress in Chennai. He told me he used it in a trek not long ago, that made me very happy.
- I gave my first travel guitar to the kids of the Hampi Children Trust. The smiles on their faces was worth it. I bought another one to replace it so it didn’t mean less weight in fact.
- Laxmi my second (and last) fleece jacket after the trek in Manali. Because she liked it.
- when I left Chandigarh, I gave Aashish the winter sleeping bag I had bought in Istanbul. He wanted to buy one for the treks to come.
- I also left in Chandigarh a drinking bottle because I had gotten a bigger one for he trek. I don’t know if anyone found it.
- in Bombay I gave Lily my first kurta when she left for Iran. I knew she was going to need it to cover her ass there.
- I gave my “teach yourself Hindi” book to a girl who was actually going to use it.
- in Shenyang I gave my second travel guitar to Jiesu (but I bought a third one, so it didn’t make me travel lighter).
If you add all that to the map it now looks like this:
In the people-are-crazy-generous-to-me category
People tend to be quite generous as well. Here are a few gifts I can remember (this doesn’t include the food):
- at the very beginning, before I left Vienna, I was given by my friends a bracelet that I turned in to a necklace and by a student of mine a bracelet that I wore every single day of my trip. I haven’t lost any of those and I am kind of proud .
- I was given many lucky charms in Turkey. It’s a common thing there especially when you hitch-hike (drivers will often rummage through their car when you leave to find something to give you as a present).
- I was given a hat by our hitchhikee at the Selim pass in Armenia. He saw how upset I was for loosing Artyom’s “You want a hat? Here is one!” (I believe I gave that hat to Ben before leaving Yerevan).
- I was given beautiful earrings just before I left Yerevan
- I was given a first bracelet in Tabriz, then in Isfahan a second one as well as a bracelet + matching necklace set. I still have the first bracelet but I lost the second pretty quickly because the locker was lose. The necklace broke as well but I gave the pearls to Emily in the Ashram, she wanted to make something out of it. I wore the matching bracelet for a long time, until the pearls had become all white, the plastic having come off, and then it eventually broke as well.
- I was given one of those cool seed necklaces in the Ashram. I lost it in Pondicherry and I was quite sad about it, I even went back to try to find it as soon as I realised it wasn’t around my neck anymore. I couldn’t find it… but it doesn’t matter, “no attachments”, right?
- I was given two really nice pairs of earrings in Chennai.
- I even got gifts for my birthday, tea and a CD of Indian music in Pune. I also got some tea in China.
- my last Indian host in Bombay gave me two beautiful kurtas.
- I was given an olive seed buddha bracelet in Yingtan, which I like a lot. I was admiring the man’s own bracelet and he got up, got one from his shop and gave it me just like that. Unfortunately it broke on the train to Utrecht but I kept the pearls.
- I was given two pretty Chinese fans, one in Wenzhou and one in Shenyang.
Add all this generosity to the previous transactions and this is the picture you’ll get.
So in the end, this Wonderful Map will tell you how to lose (and gain) weight while backpacking.