A dreaded activity for many and a welcome problem for few, I have always enjoyed packing for trips. As I started to recall just what I deemed appropriate for the Ultimate Female Packing List for Italy on Her Packing List this week, I remembered some of my painful packing errors. While I had tried to push those incidents out of my memory, they are always there, tugging at me and reminding me there is no such thing as a travel packing pro. Packing is a something I think you don’t get down with one trip, or even two. It takes a great deal of time to master, and even when you have gone pro, you still have those items you never wear or the shoes that kill your feet.
Perhaps in hopes of releasing all of that bad packing karma from countless errors throughout my travels, I have assembled some of the moments when I have faltered in the packing department. I always go back to Ötzi, the Iceman found preserved along with his belongings in a glacier between Austria and Italy. His backpack along with the items he packed for his journey is now immortalized in a museum. What you carry does in fact carry you. If I tumbled into a glacier with my suitcase, I wouldn’t want anyone to see these packing mistakes in a museum.
Three Suitcases For 5 Months in Sicily
I might be most ashamed of this packing mistake. I was headed to Sicily for a semester in college, my first time abroad for an extended period of time. I could not pare down what I wanted to bring, so much so, I brought three suitcases. Arriving to that small airport in Catania, I looked mostly ridiculous as my ride laughed and mumbled in Sicilian dialect. While I had a wealth of options that semester for clothes, it made it next to impossible to move all three of those bags.
Lesson Learned: Even for long trips, don’t ever bring more bags than you have hands.
The Shoes That Weren’t Made For Walking in England
My first few moments in Europe for the first time were not spent enjoying the beauty of London, but rather enjoying a London shoe store. At the last minute, at 8 years old mind you, I threw in a pair of shoes I desperately wanted to bring. Why? I don’t know, as they were gingham-printed shoes. I had never worn these killer shoes. They attacked my feet and didn’t make walking possible. I found myself in a London shoe store, buying the ugliest of shoes with my mom as we tried to figure out European sizes.
Lesson Learned: Never pack shoes you have never worn before.
Packing For The Season I Wanted
Just because you are in a place that you think of as warm year round, doesn’t mean it will be. When I studied in Florence for a semester, I thought the extent of their winter would be a little rain but bearable temperatures. Just like my other packing errors, this thinking did not work in my favor when I froze February through April in one of Florence’s closest winters.
Lesson Learned: Don’t pack for the season you are hoping for, but rather check the weather before you start loading up your bag with flip-flops and T-Shirts.
All of The High Heels I Have Ever Packed
I have finally learned that high heels and traveling simply don’t mix. However, for a time, I would always through in a pair or two. At the end of a trip, I would find high heels were always the items I promised myself I would never pack again. I never end up wearing them. Cobblestone or no cobblestone, high heels are not meant for walking in a new place.
Lesson Learned: If you are not a high heel person at home, you are not a high heel person when you travel.
The Cheap Tote Bag Problem
For a while in my traveling career, I would purchase a new tote bag to carry my computer, wallet and other important items. The night before I would try packing this tote bag and always have some sort of zipper fiasco. Whether it was not big enough to fit all of my important items or poor with weight distribution so much so I thought I would lose an arm lugging this monster around, cheap tote bags are never the way to go.
Lesson Learned: Just like shoes, try out your main bag you will be toting the majority of the time before you take off. It if it kills your arm at home or has a cheap zipper, it will break or cost you an arm.
What is your worst packing error? Have you ever repeated the same packing mistake twice?