Adjusting to urban life has probably been a bigger adjustment for me than language and Latino/Italian culture.1 Since I've become aware of the fitness thing again I've been doing the whole body bodyweight thing alternating days. The nice side effect of forgetting about fitness, is that when paid attention to again it doesn't take much time to see some progress. My eyes are making if over the pullup bar. But it helps that this activity has a concrete purpose in adapting to Urbanity, to that point I would rate its importance up there with additional solo drilling of vocabulary and grammar before departure.
Useful to the solo urban pioneer is the 15 to 25 liter2 daypack.3 A lot of sites, reddits, and members of the travel fandom will instead advocate building a luggage strategy around a 35-45 liter "carry on travel backpack" as the center of everything. While this may be fine for recreationally or even in some cases productively hopping from hostel to hostel every few days, a pioneer builds things and building requires tools. On most international flights you get to bring a carry on suitcase and a separate "personal item" piece of luggage into the cabin. This maximizes your space from transporting valuables, fragiles, and their padding. As a young republican pioneer who will be building stuff, you are probably transporting some tools and materials that are going into checked bags. Having checked bags is fine, and the only way you are going to have an all important claw hammer from the moment you leave your destination airport for your new life.
Your daypack should be able to comfortably transport your essential work tools, a change of clothes, and an additional load for the greater value of 10kg or 10% of your bodyweight for arbitrary distances covered on foot. Is this how you are actually going to load your daypack everyday? No, not unless you keep arbitrary ballast in your pack habitually. Like solid leather boots that you might not wear everywhere and forever after you get the lay of the land, it a useful excess of capability. Loot drops are rarely weightless no matter what the games tell you.4
Securing your daypack given its contents is an extremely high priority. It does not go unatttended unless secured. If you are in a hostel it and NOT your carry on or drug stash5 goes in your locker. Alternately it can sleep with you in your bed.
James Lafond offers considerations for securing the backpack while it is being worn. In my own surveys of pedestrian latino lands they absolute highest risk situation for having a backpack stolen is when you are a short local woman disembarking from a bus.
If you are a mid 20s woman under 5 feet tall who insists on fashionable looking backpacks and your daily commute from the inner slums to outer slums involves one transfer between bus lines, you can count on losing your backpack to groups of young male adults at your transfer point at least annually. If you are an adult male sleeping on the street with your backpack under your head or in a teddy bear position, it might never be stolen. No factors I have observed affect likelyhood of bag theft as highly as being a short woman who takes the bus.6
The only strong predictor of attempted bag theft for males I have seen is visible intoxication, and this affects locals and tourists alike.7 The incidents I have heard of suggest a less than 30% success rate against drunks,8 while stoners tend to more specifically "lose their wallet" after getting comfortable with new strangers than have their whole backpack forcefully taken. The most successful thieves tend to grab and run while hanging around bus stops.
Now what makes a good daypack? Wide, padded shoulder straps and a good fit for your body. During his visit to Montevideo asciilifeform was a substantial fan of using a chest clip or strap to enforce an optimally load distribution position for the shoulder straps. In the following months I've beome a convert. On the other hand I still suspect a load bearing padded hip belt is overkill for this role. If you have time before your departure go to REI or something and try out some packs. Try them with weight until you find one that works for you.
The other major consideration is protection from the elements. Cheap rainproof backpack covers can be found just about anywhere, but here in Montevideo where partly cloudy skies can occasionally drop driving rain the 30-ish seconds it takes to deploy the cover can lead to substantial anxiety drying out your laptop because the fucking bag had a seperate leaky zipper covering a dedicated laptop compartment. A laptop sleeve built into the main compartment is the less anxiety inducing design, especially when paired with an application of scotchguard. Scotchguard should be applied after soaking the daypack and any other textile luggage with a liberal application of a repellent insecticide labeled for bedbug control. Other travelers can be filthy.
Getting and playing with a pull up bar9 has noticably improved10 my comfort when rucking around with my own rucksack. Before I got the pullup bar doing rows with a knotted blanket secured in the bathroom door similarly lead to noticable improvements in posture and comfort. Long walks with a bunch of optimally distributed weight in the pack loaded into the pack helps with conditioning for your new life while burning a noticably higher volume of calories than simply walking, which in turn makes the pull up bar friendlier, and so on.
One other nice feature is a convenient pocket for the camera and sunglasses. A solid point and shoot camera that works well in a variety of situations is a godsend. The republic enjoys pictures,11 get in the habit of taking them often before your new location becomes boring and normal.
- The target audience for this piece is anyone who finds themselves in the situation I did in 2017 or aspires to find themself in such a situation. If you already have slavegirls to enlist for porter duty it may be less relevant. [↩]
- Your torso length will largely be the determining facor in the size that fits comfortably. [↩]
- It is to my shame this did not occur to me before getting on the plane, coming from a place where you either carry a bunch or shit xor go for a long walk. Instead I went for a stupid shoulder "boarding bag" of limited long term utility as my personal item. [↩]
- Not to mention the excess capacity is valuable when playing tour guide for the girls coming through your hostel. [↩]
- Should you happen to have a drug stash in a hostel it should be trivially secured, easily stolen, and its location an open secret. It should be an early warning system for sticky fingers where the worst outcome is losing a small amount of some physical altcoin. In the event things of yours no matter the value routinely go missing, you need to move yesterday. The caliber of people you are around is too low, your reputation is dogshit, or both. [↩]
- Even then avoiding the inner and outer slums substantially reduces the risk of theft to the short woman. [↩]
- This risk is substantially reduced in males who habitually sleep on the street regardless of intoxication level. [↩]
- The cannonical attempt in my memory is the report from a group of young men affiliated with the hostel drinking in a restaurant/bar's outdoor seating area on the sidewalk. The group of agressors were unarmed and the defenders produced broken glassware in a successful defense against an attempted mugging by insufficiently supported threat of violence. Several months later one fellow from that incident was walking back from a get together with a female companion. Her backpack was successfully snatched by a committed runner who managed to escape in the end. Note this is Uruguay in 2017-2018 and not James Lafond Presents Baltimore. [↩]
- Do not pack this. Acquire a new one locally. [↩]
- Even the traction from the force applied by the weight of my legs while hanging from the bar has a nice albeit temporary effect. [↩]
- If you do not already keep a blog there are many other problems to be remedied well before pioneer duty becomes a possibility. [↩]