Why backpacks work for us…


Awesome travel with a backpack extends your mind and it certainly created a canyon in our children’s minds during the three months we traveled through Asia & Africa this year (2016).

For Noelle & I growing up (in our respective countries) we never traveled outside of them with our parents, we traveled domestically and it wasn’t until our late teens that we headed offshore……Noelle to Hong Kong and I to Australia.  We went off without parental guidance or inside knowledge and opened our minds alone. Granted it was a different world back then with accessibility to far flung corners of the globe not as readily available or as cheap as we have today.  Although both our parents have traveled overseas later in their lives we wonder what it would have been like to explore the world with them..as a family.

Neither Noelle or I can pinpoint where or what drove our individual wanderlust…there was no pivotal or defining moment it just happened although my job as a Chef gave me inspiration and the opportunity to travel.

The one constant with me from leaving NZ and all my subsequent travels around the world was my backpack, it was my home and I was at home with it on my back.  It evoked feelings of mobile intrepid exploring whilst being part of a tribal group of similar people that you met at the hostel, camp , flat or on the train.  I lived by the theory that if it took longer than one hour to pack up anywhere then you owned too much (and as it happened I sometimes only had two hours notice to transfer ships).  Once Noelle and I had started traveling together then she also became accustomed to living out of a pack.

This shaped who we are, our travel values and what we enjoy so it’s only natural that we pass that onto our children (later in life they may find their own travel values but until then they do it our way). Our rules for backpacking as a family are simple – 1.If you want to take it then you carry it. 2. If you buy a new piece of clothing then an old piece goes out  3. We aim to travel light

Our kids embraced this and although we had some apprehensions as to how they would cope they did so admirably and without too much complaining.  It was new to them traveling like this for a period of time longer than a weekend and as a family we found that by carrying only our essentials we left behind many items of our modern day life we had once thought of as necessary.  Without the need to carry baggage it gives you as sense of freedom as you move and explore.

Backpacking with our kids gave us the opportunity to teach them real life skills whilst spending quality fun family time together.  They will remember it for a lifetime and I’m sure later in life they’ll be thankful that they had some awesome opportunities.  Their minds are now more pliable and are more open to trying new experiences whilst remaining flexible as they understand that on the road life can be fluid and doesn’t have the routine or structure they were perhaps used to. Remember………………..


“You learn how to be book smart in school, but you better not forget that you also need to be street smart.” – Harvey Mackay

Namibia takes a break this week as half of the family have been in at Deep Cove in Fiordland and just returned.  Back on the road next week as we head from Swakopmund deep into the Southern Namib Desert for two nights (with photos)









  1. I would have been hopeless travelling with you Michael as I always take far too much stuff. Perhaps you should run training camps on how to pack light??? Good reading as always. Cheers Alwyn

    1. Hi Alwyn…..the rule of thumb is pack your bags then unpack them and throw away half of what you packed.As it was i still reckon we could have dropped a few clothes.
      Thanks for reading…..trust all is well down south cheers

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