My Biggest Traveling Mistake

easyJet at London Luton Airport

You learn a lot when traveling, and you would think that someone who calls herself an #adventurer would know a few things by now, such as how to pack lightly.

Actually, you don’t even need to have traveled anywhere beyond your front doorstep to know that. You may even think I would be so much of a packing ninja by now that I could write a post detailing expert-like tips for packing lightly.

But I guess teaching by failing will have to do. Because as I tried so hard to hide from my nearly three-week travel companion just how much I was struggling with my unbelievably heavy suitcase on our way to our first city out of five, I knew I fucked up.

The thing is, I’ve always counted on my luck with packing right up to the weight limit of 50 pounds. It has always worked and never really been so much of a problem that I would end up needing to buy a separate duffle to transfer some things yet continue to surprise myself by how much I struggled to even push my suitcase around.

I also never considered myself weak enough to need others to help with my luggage. No lie—I have decent upper-body strength, so when I found myself struggling more than expected and seeing how pathetic I must have looked, I couldn’t believe how little attention I had paid to packing lightly—especially knowing that I would be jumping from city to city every few days. What an immediate wake-up call.

My notes from failing to pack lightly:

1 — Don’t bother with rolling up clothes. The point of rolling your clothing is so that you can fit more stuff in your suitcase. This packing “tip” is masking the more important tip of bringing as little as possible. If you’re doing this for the sole purpose of packing more (it MAY help with wrinkles but don’t count on it), don’t.

2 — Watch YouTubers like Ingrid Nilsen on how to not overpack. My friend actually introduced me to Ingrid, and I found this gem of a video on how not to overpack…upon returning from my trip.

I love how she uses bags to separate even her clothing. You should’ve seen the state of my suitcase near the end of the trip. To give you an idea of how much I overpacked, despite using my new duffle for dirty clothes, by the end of the trip, I still had nearly a full suitcase. How does it get that bad, I don’t know. It also looked like my clothes just exploded inside, despite trying to roll them. SO much fail. I would encourage watching other YouTube videos if you need more help. There are a ton (including one on rolling clothes…). Just take advice with caution—including mine.

3 — You are not better than using plastic bottles for liquids. Soooo cardinal packing light rule: Have your liquids be travel-sized, whether you’re checking them in or not. Having packed up my entire apartment and not wanting to transfer my liquids into smaller bottles or buy travel-sized ones, I brought shampoo, conditioner, face washes (yeah, somehow, bringing two was necessary), moisturizers, AND fucking toothpaste all in their full-sized glory. Wow. I really didn’t give a damn about packing lightly. To me, the options were packing up the big bottles for my parents to bring home from graduation or just fucking bringing all of them. W-O-W. My laziness and oversight are too much for me to handle even now.

4 — Stop overestimating yourself. My struggles could have all been avoided if I had just stepped off my travel high horse. Simple as that. Consider underestimating your abilities. Be overly cautious to avoid having to be cautious for the rest of your trip.

And that’s all for now, folks. I have some more big trips coming soon (TBA!), so let’s hope I’ll listen to my own advice.