Just Another Flag for the Backpack… Or a Lasting Memory?

Updated November 18th, 2017.

Taking photos, keeping a journal, updating your Facebook status, buying souvenirs or sticking beer labels in a scrapbook… what are the ways we try to record the memories of our travels?

These days it seems that an experience hasn’t really been fulfilled unless you have documented it in some way. You haven’t been out for dinner unless you’ve uploaded a ‘selfie’ to Twitter. As travel writers, we are guilty of this more than others – we write, photograph, analyze and record every travel experience, every place visited and every connection we have made.

So why is this so important to us as human beings? Are we afraid that if we don’t record a memory in some way we will forget it?

scrap book A scrapbook filled with memories

The trend at the moment amongst some backpackers in South East Asia seems to be sewing flags of the countries they have visited to their backpack. So what does this mean?

And what kind of travel warrants a flag? 

Backpack flags 2How many flags would you have?

So when you see a flag – does it mean that the traveler has touched down in the airport? Have they been to every city, landmark, beach, jungle, mountaintop and desert in that country? Have they got to know the people, really gotten under the skin of the culture and politics of that country?

What do you think?

Why do you think as backpackers that we like to tick places off a list? Get stamps in our passports? Declare things completed?

Owner of online company BackpackFlags, Jasper de Vink, says…

“It is human nature to want to record things and have something tangible to remind us of an amazing experience. At BackpackFlags, we sell every country’s flag from Djibouti in Africa to Bora Bora in Oceania… (100 points for anyone who’s been there!) We think that sewing the flags on your backpack is a beautiful, creative way to remember your travels and make a connection with fellow travelers. At the end of your trip you’ll have a backpack that is filled with flags and infused with happy memories.”

Perhaps it is in the spirit of connection?

Some backpackers who have a backpack full of flags say that they have formed connections and made friends through a particular flag on their backpack. “Wow – you have been to Mongolia? That’s amazing – what was it like? Can you give me some tips? I am thinking of going there in a few weeks.”

Like a tattoo for your backpack or an interesting piece of jewelry with a story, like leaving on your festival bracelets years after the festival is over.

How do you record your travel memories?

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26 thoughts on “Just Another Flag for the Backpack… Or a Lasting Memory?

  1. Jerome says:

    Have ordered there a few weeks ago, I get a nice surprise package inside! Maps tags patches stickers all kinds of goodies! Very nice!

  2. Adrian says:

    I do this. and i do it since 2007.
    till now i got just good recommends. its pretty easy to come in touch with People if they see there own flag. also its for my own memories.

  3. Nicole Schulze says:

    My backpack was my home for over 3 years, you should be able to see what true friend it was 😉
    Would never remove them and put them on a new bag tho 🙂

  4. Mike Mockus says:

    I do it! I think it looks pretty cool imo. I don’t do it to show off, it’s just my way of documenting my travels like another records things in their journal. Sometimes it’s an icebreaker when meeting new people 🙂

  5. Malakai Halcyon says:

    Our very first day on the road, it was a backpack–covered in patches–that suggested to us ‘Hey, she might be a good person to talk to!’ We were right! Our backpacks are covered now. We want people to see that we can be for them what someone else was for us!

  6. Viktoria Horvath says:

    Agree w the article. It brings up the great memories and helps connect ppl too. And u wouldnt do it just bc u went through an airport.. i dont think anyone would do that. But actually who cares..? U do it for yourself 😉

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