When I board my plane to Uganda next weekend I will have become that which I most detest… The dreaded backpacker. In my four years of travelling abroad and reporting on it here I have hopefully proved myself to be both an experienced passenger and savvy visitor, but all that will instantly vanish the moment I check in with this abomination of a valise as my carry-on. Oh sure, I’ll try to explain to anyone willing to listen that I need this vulgar appendage only to track gorillas in the deepest, darkest jungles of Africa, but the truth will fall on deaf ears—my fellow passengers will be too busy dodging the swinging straps and buckles while I try to hide my shame in the overhead compartment above them.
To make matters even more humiliating, this thing even has a strap-on fanny pack, clearly visible for all to see; as effective an advertisement as a sign that reads: “Kick me! I’m too busy hiding my traveller’s cheques in the secret pocket of my wrinkle-free travel slacks to realize that I’m the very cliché of the stupid tourist… Now let me just pull out my laminated map so I can find out where that gosh-durn hostel is… My Birkenstocks are killing me!”