In 2010, Jordan Bower left his home in Canada with only a backpack. He didn’t know exactly where he would end up or how long he would be gone.

Nearly one year later, Jordan’s walk ended in Mexico. Along the way, he met countless locals and had an innumerable amount of adventures. Not content to go home, Jordan next turned his wanderlust to India, which is where I met him … backpacking in Rishikesh.


What’s in Jordan’s Backpack?

Throughout my travels, I’ve always been intrigued by the contents of a backpacker’s backpack. We all have the same core items: clothes, toiletries, books, journals, mementos and a few choice electronics.

But, what do these items look like in someone else’s backpack and how many of each thing does the traveler carry? What does all it look like spread out? If they could only save one item, what would it be? And, most importantly, what is their story?

This interview seeks to explore those questions and more, while getting to know Jordan along the way.


All of Jordan Bower's stuff fits in one backpac
All of Jordan Bower’s stuff fits in one backpack

Jordan Bower: Adventurer, Storyteller and Aspiring Travel App Developer

Name: Jordan Bower

Age: 31.5

Nationality: Canadian with a British passport, though the Canadian one has all of his travel stamps.

Why Two Passports: His father was born in Manchester, England, and moved to Canada when Jordan was four.

Trip Duration So Far: 4.5 months, since December 1, 2011

Time Left on This Trip: Less than a month; he leaves for home on May 11

With the simple biographical questions out of the way, I began to ask Jordan about his stuff, travels, favorite places to visit, thoughts on life and more

. . .

Jordan and his frisbee
Jordan and his frisbee

What locations have you visited so far on this trip?

I’ve has been in India the whole time, starting in Gokarna, then spending time in Auroville playing Ultimate Frisbee, and finally landing in Rishikesh.

. . .

What’s drawing you home:

I’m going to play competitive Ultimate Frisbee and to work on my storytelling project.

. . .

If you could only save one item in your bag, what would it be?

I really love my Frisbee. Having a Frisbee is one of the most important things to me.

Other than that, these [points to a stack of notebooks] are the collective journals from my walking trip. They are currently the only version that exists, so losing those would be a pretty big deal.

In terms of money, my computer is the most expensive thing I own. This camera too, so replacing it would be expensive.  But in terms of things I would most not want to lose, it’s the journals.

. . .

Can you talk a bit more about your Storytelling project?

Last year I walked from Canada to Mexico across the USA. Now I have a great collection of stories and photos that I wants to share with people in a book and using a new type of app technology. I have to go home to get some money and to make things happen a bit faster than they do here in India.

. . .

Jordan in front of the Golden Gate Bridge during his year-long walk from Canada to Mexico
Jordan in front of the Golden Gate Bridge during his year-long walk from Canada to Mexico

Why are you traveling?

When I finished the walking trip in September, I had just walked for a year. There was a lot of stuff that changed, so I needed to come to a place that was comfortable to separate what I had just done and what I wanted to come next.

. . .

What has your favorite place been on this trip:

There was this place in Gokarna called Half Moon Beach. There was only one florescent light in the guesthouse, so I was surrounded by florescent huts up in the jungle with monkeys, birds and butterflies in the trees. It was a very idyllic spot with a working farm and a great community of travelers living on the beach, surrounded by the jungle on three sides. I spent about two months there.

. . .

What about your favorite place that you’ve ever visited?

Jordan looks at some of his favorite photos of people he met during his walk from Canada to Mexico
Jordan looks at some of his favorite photos of people he met during his walk from Canada to Mexico

In North East India, there’s a place called Meghalaya in a dense jungle at the bottom of a hill next to the Bangladesh border that had living root bridges.It’s the rainiest part of earth with something like 30 feet of rain during the monsoon season but a very dry rest of the year. The locals needed a way to cross this giant chasm during the dry season, so they planted fig trees on either side of it.

Fig tree roots grow fast and strong, so over 60 or 70 years, they stretched across the chasm and became stable. The locals turned it into a suspension bridge. While I was there, I stayed in a little guesthouse for a week with surrounded by bridges, jungle, beetles and thunderstorms. It was like being on another planet.

. . .

Thanks Jordan! Before we finish, do you have any parting words of advice?

The scariest thing about starting to travel is that first step. Once you hit the road, you can figure out everything for yourself. What’s really nice about travel is how liberating it is: to start clearing away the clutter in your life in terms of not just your relationships, but your things.

I mean, I’ve only got this bunch of clothes here and its more than enough for what I need.  I get them washed every couple of days. It’s easy. I don’t need to worry about what I’m going to wear. [looks through his clothes and shows me a traditional pair of comfortable Punjabi pants] I got these great Ali-Baba pants.

It helps you to become more transitional in your life, and I think that’s a really great step towards independence and freedom. To feel like you’re grounded and you can be at home wherever you go. When I lay out this stuff, this becomes my home. Sure, there are days when I’m staying in nicer places and others in not so nice, but it helps you feel at home wherever you are.

The more that we’re out in the world feeling at home the better citizens we are, the better friends we are, the better strangers we are. Everywhere is our home, so it becomes easier to share: as opposed to it being “just mine.”

Go out in the world, figure out what you need to be really happy and just smile and connect.


Jordan Bower, a backpacker in Rishikesh, India
Jordan Bower, a backpacker in Rishikesh, India

An Overview of Jordan’s Storytelling Project

“Monarch Spirit is the story of my 316 day, 3,000 kilometer walk from Vancouver to the border between California and Mexico on a quest to learn about love.

I’m going to share my story – and the stories of the people I met – in a unique way: by using an innovative interactive scavenger hunt and a non-fiction book.

Jordan emulates one of his favorite photos, which is something he hopes to have people do all across the world through his new project
Jordan emulates one of his favorite photos, which is something he hopes to have people do all across the world through his new project

As you move through chapters of the story, you’ll be invited into the journey to act as if you were the central character on a pilgrimage yourself.

Through the scavenger hunt, to be delivered as a mobile phone app, you’ll:

  • perform actions in the real world that will unlock additional content to the story. Actions will correspond to walking a certain distance, visiting a certain type of location, receiving a text message from a certain type of contact, and other triggers related to motion, sound, location, phase of the moon, temperature, and more that will be measured by your smart phone.
  • contribute your own stories inspired by the narrative.  On a pilgrimage, the most innocuous conversations can unveil lessons about your deepest journey.  How has acting out the story impacted you personally?  You’ll be able to share your stories with other readers and on social media.
  • contribute your own stories as part of the narrative.  Some of the actions will ask you to contribute content.  You’ll choose whether you share that content publicly, anonymously, or not at all. Other readers will be able to view this collected content as a montage of love notes, letters of forgiveness, expressions of anger, wishes, or dreams that will be presented online and in public exhibition in the real world.  It will be the answer to the most important question posed by the story: how can being the change change the world?   And it will work beautifully if we all do it together.

The content you’ll receive as a reward for completing these tasks will take you deeper into the story, sharing a sense of intimacy and accomplishment.

The book & ebook versions of the story will include references to the scavenger hunt.  The storytelling will take you from the page to the real world and back again with a visionary guiding hand.

It will be a truly unique, participatory experience  – an inspiring tale that’ll jump between written stories, visual poems, audio stories, performance art, social activism, and even some exercise.  Best of all, it’ll star YOU!”