Just to set one thing straight – I am in no way advocating making a mockery of your backpack. There should never be any bejeweling of any sort. I just wanted to put that out there.
The point I’m making here, is that your backpack should stand out. When you are travelling so much, spotting your backpack becomes a necessary skill. You start to get pretty apt at getting through an airport or off of a boat in the shortest possible time and finding your luggage is conducive to this. And it’s not just on a luggage conveyor belt or a pile of bags on the back of a boat that you need to be able to locate your backpack. When you check out of a hostel and leave our stuff in the luggage room, that place is a labyrinth of enormous suitcases, random sleeping bags and carrier bags of doom. Moral of the story? Make sure your backpack stands out!
How you go about it is obviously a matter of personal taste. But it helps to start out with a backpack that isn’t black. About 90% of backpacks on my travels were black. The green toploader I used in Asia was always easier to spot than the black travelpack I used in America.
I also think adding a few personal touches doesn’t harm. I mean after all, there are a limited amount of backpack styles in the world and in the backpacking meccas of Bangkok or Sydney, you are bound to come across a few dopplegangers of your particular backpack.
I personally like to opt for the cliche option of sewing patches from all the places you have visited on your trip. In my America trip this included the sports teams or landmarks in the cities I visited. On my Asia/Australia trip, I went for the flag patches. It may be a backpacker cliche but it sure does make your backpack individual!
There’s also the ribbon tradition. I tied my tubing headband and the neon fabric from Full Moon Party to my backpack but pretty much any ribbon will do!
Finally there’s the one I’m not a big fan of but I know plenty of girls are – the teddy bear. I don’t get it, I really don’t. But I know a lot of people bring little sidekicks with them on their travels, and strapping him to the front of their bag seems to be way to customise their backpack. Fair enough. I just think that it means the little guy will get super dirty. And you might lose him. And it looks kind of lame. That’s all I’m saying, ok.
So anyway, choose your poison, just make sure your bag is customised in some form. Got it?