When we set of on our trip of a lifetime we packed everything we would own for the next year into our panniers. It didn’t worry me to pack light, it almost felt like a relief. We had carefully selected each and every item in those panniers and would grow to love, or hate, them in the next few months.
The space was limited and everything we took with us would weigh us down when cycling, so we spent a lot of time selecting what to take with us and what to leave behind. Each of us had some ‘luxury’ items we refused to leave behind, but mostly our bags were packed with what we needed.
After a few weeks of cycling we knew our panniers like the back of our hand. We got rid of a few items we didn’t need as much as we thought and bought a few extra bits and bobs we missed after all. When travelling light it can sometimes be hard to predict which pieces you’ll love and which you’ll hate.
An item I ended up loving was one I picked up last-minute and almost left home without: my hiking sandals. I had decided to bring an extra pair of footwear with me to wear in the evenings and on resting days. I remember making fun of them with my best friend, they aren’t particularly stylish and I was seriously considering wearing them with socks (which, of course, I did). Before long I was wearing them every day and didn’t bother packing them in my panniers, that way I could slip them on immediately when we got on our destination.
One day we were cycling through a bigger city and I was getting annoyed with the traffic rushing by. My legs were getting tired from having to stop-and-go all the time and honestly I was fed up with everything. It was one of ‘those’ days, you know, where things just seems off and everything is somehow incredibly annoying. After cycling for what seemed like an eternity we stopped for yet another red light and my boyfriend casually remarked: ‘hey, did you manage to fit your sandals in your panniers again?’. And I just replied with: ‘uhm, no… why?!’
I turned around to look and they were gone, my lovely sandals were no longer dangling from my top bag and were nowhere to be seen. I was shocked, got mad and turned my bike around to start cycling back. I was not going to leave one of my few luxury items behind. Luckily, it didn’t take me long to find my first sandal. It was lying in the middle of a busy road and cars were rushing by. I saw a car drive over it right before I could reach it. It actually made me cry when I saw that the sandal survived and looked good as ever.
With tears I my eyes I continued my quest for the second one. I pedalled on a while longer but eventually gave up and turned my bike back around. When I almost reached my boyfriend again I saw it. I saw my second sandal. It was lying in some bushes, but was perfectly intact. I was so happy I started sobbing again.
When we set camp for the night, I wore my sandals and I was happy as could be. While travelling, a small luxury, like sandals, can have an immense impact on your quality of life. I loved and wore those sandals every day for a year and they are still going strong. Every time I see them I am reminded of how I almost lost them. It might seem silly to care so much about a pair of sandals, but they were a huge comfort to me and putting them on at the end of a long day felt like coming home.