Charlie Grosso with Locals in Kazakhstan

I’m tired of looking like a hobo when I am on the road. The concept of synthesis has been on my mind for a long while now; trying to find a way to make each re-entry back into my NYC life a little less startling and each exit for the road less dramatic and devil may care. It’s time for ownership. It’s time to own up to who I am, what I do and stop pretending like I am still twenty-something on my first backpacking trip.

Nothing to prove is a mindset I’ve arrived at. Sure I can live with next to nothing and be a hot mess but badge of honor has been won and it’s time to move on. Now I need to master the fine line between avoidance of who I am and practicality of working from the road.

A shift in mindset is great except it does not come with a 4-dimension pocket for you to reach in and pull out whatever you want on a whim. Physics still apply in a 65 liter backpack and all the hardware that facilitates a working life doesn’t get smaller and lighter because you decided to act your age.

Jia, a fashion designer has a line specifically for women traveling for work. Everything is reversible and serves double duty. One dress turns into two, a dress unbuttons into a sweater and camisole inverts to a pop out tent (no not really but how cool would that be?!). I packed a double-sided cotton knit sweater from Jia’s collection, something presentable to rescue me from the hobo fate.

My friend Adam Rapp, CEO of Clothing Arts, has pickpocket proof pants that I am dying to try out. They’ve had the men’s line for a couple of years and a women’s line coming out this Spring. I was hoping to get myself into a pair of women’s for this summer but at last, it is not meant to be. Instead, I am trying out a pair of men’s pickpocket proof pants.

How are these pants pickpocket proof? Each of the pockets have both zippers and tab button closures and it is double enforced heavy-duty cotton making it impossible to cut through with a knife. These pants are a little heavier than I like but they have these ginormous pockets that holds my phone, wallet, passports, chap stick, lens caps, film, a snack and maybe even a baby animal of some sort if I am so inclined. I never knew men’s pants had pockets so deep! I guess I don’t really make a habit of sticking my hands into men’s pants so how could I possibly know.

Adam and I only talk about three things: food, travel and his line of pants. In a dive bar during happy hours, Adam is showing off the fine details on the pants, the pockets, zippers, the pocketknife slot built into the right side pocket, then he said, “and you never have to wash them!”

“What do you mean I never have to wash these pants?”

“The pants are made from cotton coated with Teflon, making them water resistant, stain resistant and since odor is caused by bacteria and the Teflon prevents the bacteria from clinging on and have babies, these pants won’t smell.” With that, Adam pours a bit of his beer onto the pants. The beer sits on top of the pants but it is not being absorbed, Adam flicks the beer off with his finger and gives it a quick blot with a napkin and it is good as new.

“You are literally cleaning your pants when you are walking.” Adam declares proudly with a giant grin on his face.

There is a mental image of tiny bacteria falling off of my pants as I walk through the markets in Ethiopia and self-cleaning with each step! Not doing laundry doesn’t seem to go hand in hand with not looking like a hobo but I am excited about these self-cleaning pickpocket proof pants with giant pockets.


Traveling girl friends rendezvous in a tiny Indian restaurant in Liege and naturally the conversation turns to what is in our packs. I declare my intention to stop looking like a hobo on the road and Farah unconsciously brush her sandy blond hair at the mention.

“I actually packed my tiny travel hair dryer.” I tell her.

“I can’t believe you packed a hair dryer. I’ve been living with limpy hair for months now.” says Farah. The thought of a hair-dryer seems extravagant and incongruous to a life on the road.

“You know what I really thought about taking with me but didn’t because there is no room? A vibrator.”

Laugher erupts across the table.

“You didn’t take your vibrator but you packed a hair dryer?!” Farah laughs at me in disbelief.

“I am tired of looking like hobo on the road. I had a serious debate with myself when I was packing…I couldn’t make it fit!” I protest in my own defense.

“Every time I do an interview and they ask, what is the one thing you always travel with….I always want to tell them the real answer.” Farah excitedly shares, “You know what I love? My vibrator takes the same size battery as my headlamp! When you are in a bind, you can always swap out the batteries. Plus, a vibrator is a sure thing, even if you have limpy hair and is a hot mess.”


Ownership of who we are and having enough courage to be that person irrespective of where we are.

Arriving at the state of Nothing to Prove and making decisions from there.

Reversible sweaters and pickpocket proof pants.

Hair dryer for decent hair dryer versus a vibrator for guaranteed sexual satisfaction.

These are just some of the things I’ve been contemplating as I set off for the summer. Spy Travelogue has an updated mission and we are just getting started. Stay tuned. This will be a glorious summer!

Random Fun Fact:

A hobo is an itinerant worker, a career which sprang up during the depression. A hobo, unlike a bum or a tramp, is more than willing to work, but mostly for a short duration, as their main impetus is travel, the love of the journey above the actual destination. A bum is stationary, feeding off of those unfortunate enough to cross his path; a hobo merely travels from town to town, finding work when he can, but only for the sake of financing his next adventure.*Urban Dictionary

Another definition provided by the Urban Dictionary states “Hobos are the most kickass people in the world, also the coolest job in the world.”





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