Today, I bought a backpack. A traveler’s backpack, to be specific. I never wanted to be one of “those” girls, but after 1 transatlantic travel day, 2 overnight trains and 11 exciting new cities, I’m tired of my little rolley suitcase. It was one thing, back home, to think of carrying it off a train and into the next place I was staying. That seemed simple. And my suitcase is small enough to fit into carry-on bins in planes, and truly, considering I’ll be gone seven weeks, I didn’t pack that much.

But have you ever had a three-hour layover in Rome and decided to capitalize on it and go see the Colosseum and had to drag your bag across ancient cobblestone hills and staircases through crowds on a hot summer day? Or heave it and yourself up a winding outdoor staircase only to not find what your were looking for and have to turn around? Or to rush your way through the medina in a Moroccan mountain city as you attempt to make your bus? Because I have.

None of those were fun times. Instead of being able to enjoy the scenery and appreciate the fleeting moments in new locales, I was literally and figuratively weighed down by my rolley suitcase, unable to even pull it behind me, because most of the roads in life just aren’t that smooth.

So today, back in Rome, after much searching, I found the North Face store and bought a cute yellow backpack, even smaller than boyfriend’s! We came back to our place, and I made two piles of my things: one to keep with me, and one to send back home. Although our journey’s pace is slowing down, I’m tired of being encumbered.

If life takes me up a hill, I want to look to the peak with excitement. If I find myself off beaten paths, I’d like to race down them with gusto. Because really, what’s better: that extra pair of shorts and sweatshirt, or the freedom to embrace opportunity?