Now for the final part in my 3 part series about my travel mistakes and the lessons I learnt.
I tried so hard to be super organised with packing. I read travel blogs, bought new luggage and packing materials, and attempted to plan my packing months before I left. I thought I had it all under control. But there are some mistakes you make that you only learn about when you are actually travelling…
Mistakes with Packing
This is probably a big mistake of most people who have not travelled very much. It’s probably a mistake that even well-travelled individuals still make. You pack for “just in case”. You think you’ll need everything you pack. You worry about what if. You just want all those options available.
I packed a lot less than I originally wanted to pack, and it is still too much. I did not need 8 dresses. One maxi dress would have been fine. I packed a blazer but didn’t even wear it (actually I wore it once so I could justify bringing it!) I wore my trench coat twice. I wore my long sleeve knit once. I didn’t even wear my black heels and end up sending them back home.
Also, I packed things I didn’t really like that much, or that aren’t that comfortable, all for the vain reasons that I thought hey would look good in photos. Did I wear them much? No. Are they a waste of space? Yes. Could I have done without them? Definitely.
I ended up buying a lot of clothes overseas. Anything I needed that I didn’t already have was so easy to find in Europe. And the prices are definitely reasonable when it comes to fashion. I should have packed with the intention of buying anything I needed when I got to Europe. And I definitely should have packed less.
Lesson learnt but will I pack differently in the future? Only time will tell.
Taking the Wrong Luggage
If you have not used a particular luggage item before, you will not know anything about its pros and cons. For example my suitcase was a huge pain to carry around Europe. I also wish my suitcase had more pockets and was slighter smaller. I think it might have been ok if it had four wheels instead of two
I also think that I should have used a different carry on bag. It was under the approved size for Europe budget airlines, which is why I bought it. And whilst it is great for shoving as much as I could into it, the zips broke and it was difficult to find anything in there. It also became out of shape and hurt to carry over my shoulder. I think a small wheeled carry on case or a backpack might have been easier to cart around at airports, trains or in between accommodation. It may have also made life easier when it came to going up 4 flights of stairs to my hostel room.
I also wish I found a decent toiletries bag and properly kept all my luggage safe. My toiletries bag was ok, but it was one large plastic bag and everything got lost, thrown around and eventually spilled throughout it. I bought a hanging one off eBay, but it was tiny and made of a fabric mix meaning the material would have been soaked from the spilled toiletries.
I was happy that I bought some packing cubes to organise my clothing. I was able to sort and organise my tops from dresses from pants from underwear. This definitely made life a bit easier. However, I should have spent money on the proper ones, rather than getting cheap ones on eBay. The zips broke for most of them, making it difficult to keep the clothes inside. So they ended up spilling out when I rumanged through my suitcase.
Not packing my usual toiletries
I tried to go minimalistic and pack a small amount of toiletries. Problem is, I packed too light. I didn’t pack sunscreen. This meant I ended up paying €20 for some in Greece, and then €15 for some in Croatia. I used travel size shampoo and conditioner, only to run out and have to get the crappy combined shampoo and conditioner in London.
Not preparing a travel medical kit
This is another one of those this that I thought about but never got around to organising. (Yes my life was extremely hectic and busy before I left Australia!)
Throughout my trip I had to buy various items that I forgot to organise beforehand. I ended up having to buy things like cold and flu tablets, throat losengers, bandaids, sanitary items, ibuprofen, and vitamins. All of this could have and should have been organised before I left home.
What did I learn from my travel mistakes…?
- Whatever I think my budget should be, double it. Especially if I’ll be drinking and eating out.
- Have a daily budget and a budget based on each country or city, not just an overall budget for my trip.
- Don’t ignore my budget. If I only have €15 for dinner, that’s all I should spend.
- Convert some currencies into cash before departure. Put them in a safe place until I reach the destination.
- Stay for a minimum of 3 nights at each destination place and make more day trips to neighbouring cities or nearby locations.
- Allow for flexible plans.
- Buy a cheap travel phone.
- Don’t take important things out when drinking. Especially an iPhone or expensive camera.
- Make time to back up photos. And do it on a regular basis.
- Check that electronics such as iPad or laptop have adequate storage space on them well before departure.
- Print out ALL tickets, maps and important documents as soon as bookings are confirmed. Do not leave it to the week before to do this.
- Take luggage that has already been used before so I know if it is appropriate for the kind of travel I am doing.
- Find a good toiletries bag and see if it fits in all my important toiletries before I leave. Also check that it is easy to access the toiletries.
- Don’t buy cheap luggage. The same goes for packing cubes and other luggage accessories.
- Prepare a travel medical kit long before leaving.
I hope this three part series has been helpful for anyone else you is travelling on their first big international trip. If you have any tips or suggestions of your own, please share your comments 🙂