By Mark A. RechbergMILWAUKEE (AP) Milwaukee backpacker Matt Miller spent much of the summer of 2019 working as a manager at a Milwaukee-area fast-food restaurant, but he was a bit worried when his boss wouldn’t tell him where his bags were.
“He would say, ‘You can’t bring your bags with you, you’re going to have to take them out of the store,'” Miller said.
Miller and other backpackers from the Milwaukee area were the subject of an exposé by a local TV station last month about how they were overburdened by a variety of items.
Miller and other Milwaukee backpacking enthusiasts are concerned that the new federal rules that came into effect last month will be even worse for backpackers.The exposés prompted an outpouring of support for the Milwaukee backpack community.
The Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce and Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Coalition for the Urban Poor have launched a campaign to help Milwaukee backpack riders, which is calling on all Americans to sign up for the online tool.
“The American dream is a wonderful one, but there is no such thing as a guaranteed dream,” the chamber said in a news release.
“People are working hard, but their families have not always gotten the best deal.”
A growing number of backpackers are struggling to make ends meet in a country where wages are low and health care is a challenge.
A study published last month in the Journal of Economic Perspectives found that Americans working full time make less than $15,000 a year, compared to $30,000 for those who work part time.
That is a bigger gap than for many other developed countries, including the U.K., which has one of the highest per-capita incomes in the developed world.
In a country that is increasingly becoming more and more unaffordable for many, backpackers may soon have even less choice.
The exposes came out after the Federal Aviation Administration announced that all U.S. airports will no longer allow people to bring in their own backpacks.
The ban, which takes effect Monday, will affect about 2.5 million people.
“This is a very significant decision that has a direct impact on thousands of backpacker families,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in the release.
“Our goal is to make sure backpackers have access to affordable travel options, and we will work closely with the FAA to ensure they get that opportunity.”
The Federal Aviation Agency is not the only agency that will be taking steps to improve backpack travel.
Last month, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would require airlines to provide backpackers with a backpack in a new bag-department program.