Original article on www.vagabondjourney.com
The number one mistake travelers make on their first trip, besides over-planning, is overpacking. I myself am extremely guilty of this. For my first time out of the country, I brought so much stuff that I’m pretty sure I hit the overweight baggage limit… for a 13 day stay with family friends in Italy. I knew in advance that I would be staying in apartments the entire time, but for some reason I was so unsure of everything that I managed to purchase and fill the biggest suitcase I’ve seen in in my life.
It’s true that the first big trip abroad can be scary. There are going to be a lot of things you can’t control, situations you can’t predict, and your brain will constantly remind you of this. Wrapped up among all the excitement is the very real fear of the unknown. While this fades with experience, it is what makes your first major international effort so thrilling. Whether the balance leans more towards the exciting or the intimidating, there is one thing you can control: packing.
It honestly didn’t occur to me that there are washing machines abroad and that most of the stuff you need can be purchased anywhere in the world. With very few exceptions, the same day-to-day junk we need to survive and be reasonably clean is available everywhere. Even though on some level I realized this to be true, I still brought enough gear to fill the entire backseat of a Fiat. I’m not kidding either. The Dachshund had to sit on my lap in the passenger seat.
This problem would never have occurred had I been smart enough to do a dry run. The concept is pretty simple: a week before you go, pack your bags with everything you plan on taking. Live out of your bag for the rest of the week. If you can, crash at a friend’s house for a few nights so that you are 100% free from your stuff at home. Go there by public transportation, and haul your bags everywhere with you. This will soon be your reality once you hit the road, so it’s important to realize now just how much you are actually packing.