We all remember our first time travelling – sometimes like it was yesterday. The awkward fumbles for documents at checkpoints; the standing wide-eyed and slack-jawed in a new city street like the perfect mark for pickpockets; the naïve assumptions about what it’s going to be like and your hyped up expectations that never come to fruition. It’s a magical time, for sure.
What we all turn red about when reflecting on our first time is the way in which we packed. There are some of you out here who got advice from friends or older siblings who have done it before you, or endured long and overly detailed parental experiences to which you rolled your eyes and waited until it was over and were therefore better prepared than those of us who had to figure it out on our own. Maybe you’re just a natural and everything comes to you so easily. In that case, well aren’t you special, jerk.
For the rest of us, there is a pretty steep learning curve that you figure out almost immediately upon arriving wherever it is you’re going.
“I should’ve brought more socks”
“What was I thinking packing so many collared shirts?”
“Is there a way to pack creams that won’t make them explode like a used porno set?”
But it’s all part of the process! No, it’s not the most memorable or exciting part of travel but it’s a learning experience all the same.
Packing for a trip is all about prioritizing. For example, when I first travelled I took a few pairs of shoes, belts but almost no regular shirts. Yeah, it sucked a lot. Luckily, my first trip involved camping and chilling at a buddy’s house so I didn’t really lose out on much, making me much smarter for when I went to Europe a few months later. Even then, despite packing pretty well and thinking I had a lot of space, there were so many things I didn’t use and cursed not having – then my buddy, who I was visiting, decided to send home a ton of things he wasn’t using… putting me over the weight limit.
Which comes to the other mistake most people make when packing for the first time – too much weight. These days, weight restrictions on major airlines usually runs at about 50lbs (23 kg) and anything more than that can cost you a little or a ridiculous lot. It’s pretty annoying and embarrassing to be that person holding up the line deciding what to take out of your bag and give to a family member or if you’re travelling solo, toss in the garbage. But, you’ll be smarter next time!
It’s hard to plan for all possible outcomes but the best advice I can give you is to pack only what is probable that you’ll need and just let the rest fly. As long as you have your passport and whatever documents you need, the clothes on your back and a positive attitude, you’ll have all you need. And know that your second time will be better.