Yesterday I dug out my backpack to look for traveling stuff and found 116 Indian rupees and 84 British pence from my trip in 04.
Luggage-wise, I've gone upscale since then. Not that I've ever really been a hostel-partier but I've abandoned my backpack for my rolly suitcase.
When I bought the backpack, it felt like a rite of passage: student travel, rail passes, Lonely Planet guidebooks, and living cheaply. The first time I went overseas on my own I was 23 and newly single from the boyfriend that didn't like to travel. Post-breakup I decided to skip Christmas with my family and fly across the pond solo. God, it was lonely and exhausting to figure out everything on my own. But I needed that first trip to figure out how to do it better next time: to try to plan a trip around something that I wanted to see/do, to stick to one country, to decide what I was going to a place for rather than just seeing "the sights". Whenever I traveled with that backpack, I knew who my people were instantly even if I chose to continue on my own. I felt pride in being so mobile as to carry all my possessions on my back.
Later when I bought the rolling suitcase for my first "business trips", I felt all grown-up and vaguely important. I was about to spend the summer of 2005 commuting back and forth to DC from Boston. Since I had to look semi-professional, it didn't make sense to cart a backpack around. At that moment, with my rolling suitcase (which I never checked), I fit in with the other road warriors that flew the US Airways shuttle with me. No, I couldn't carry all my stuff on my back anymore, but now someone else was paying for the trip.
Since both of those times, I've discovered that business travel is overrated and that I can indeed live out of a small backpack for months but that maybe I don't always want to anymore. I've also given up the childish construct that frugality automatically equates with adventure. Having a little more money is nice since it lets me do more and do it more often. At this point in my life, I think it's more important to find the time and go, just go. At the time of purchase, the choice of luggage was about the sort of traveler I aspired to be - which pack of people I felt like I belonged to. Now, it just carries crap.
Anyway, I dumped the rupees and pence in the funny money jar for the next time I go to India or England. Since the jar awaits a deposit of Morccan dirham and Euros, I decided to finish packing.