We live by the mantra – Prepare. Pack. Travel Tranquilo.
But seriously, prepare and pack, who cares!? Why do I need to waste all this time and effort preparing and packing before enjoying my vacation? It’s BORING! I have a million other things I would rather do, and packing is pretty much the last thing I’d want to do. I just want to fast forward to the part where I’m enjoying my vacation!
If any of these thoughts ring true – you are not alone. In fact, these were all similar thoughts I had as I prepared for my first trip abroad, back in 2009, to volunteer in Nepal for two months. I had never left the country, let alone visited a third world country that I knew virtually nothing about. You would think being in this situation as a recent college graduate and novice traveler, I would have given it more thought and taken a few trips to REI. But no.
I WAY overpacked. Or you could fall on the other end of the spectrum, being under-prepared, leaving home without gear you will actually need and regretting it later. And even though I overpacked, the majority of the stuff I brought, I couldn’t even use. Looking back, I couldn’t even fathom how little I prepared. I was comfortable and naively in that category of being unaware of how much I didn’t know. This all lead to me packing, and regrettably bringing a backpack that was literally as big as me. Look at the size of that behemoth, there was no way I needed to bring along that much.
As the picture clearly shows, I’m blissfully unaware of the utter suck fest which entailed lugging that monster around that was patiently awaiting my arrival in Nepal. The sheer size and weight of the backpack started to sink in immediately upon arrival to the airport waiting to check in. I couldn’t carry it for very long, it was too heavy.
Once we arrived in Nepal, I did find one positive; it was super easy to spot this monstrosity on the baggage carousel. That silver lining was short lived as I had to carry it through immigration, customs, to a taxi, and then watch as the Nepalese driver winced trying to helpfully put it in the trunk. I hated every minute with it. I hated trying to find that one shirt made for a hot day, but was buried inside among a mountain of unneeded shirts. I hated walking around the crowded, bustling streets of Kathmandu, lugging a bag that weighed nearly as much as I did. I hated taking long, hot bus rides with goats and sheep in the aisles, and having to somehow hold the bag on my lap or between my legs.
I started to reach a breaking point when we were leaving our first volunteer placement and I had to figure out a system to actually get the bag on my back. I set the bag upright, over the side of the bed, squatted into the harness, buckled in, and then tried to stand up. Well tried, because once I attempted to stand, I fell over and onto my back, securely strapped into the backpack. Helplessly flailing my limbs about as I laid there like an overturned beetle on top of this monstrous bag, Christie laughing her ass off, I realized I had to do something. Every time we went anywhere, I was physically burdened by the amount I had to carry and mentally burned by the dread of having to deal with this monstrosity. Something so small, (yet physically so large) as my backpack was taking away from the enjoyment of my first trip abroad. It was stealing away precious time and energy, which I would have rather devoted to enjoying this magnificent experience.
Had I never heard of washing my clothes? Or choosing apparel items that offered more than one function? Or researching the climate to know I didn’t need to be prepared for every season? I packed too many shirts, shirts that weren’t made for the warm climate we were in, and shirts that made me stick out like a sore thumb. I didn’t pack any versatile pants that could be worn around town, and into the country side. I packed a rain jacket that was pretty much a glorified garbage bag. Who in their right mind wears their bright red fraternity intramural jersey around the ancient, sacred streets of Katmandu – this guy. I mean, I took out a loan to get here, and there I was thinking about what I was going to wear as we toured sites with great historic and religious significance. While this didn’t ruin my trip (I actually loved it!), we believe that what you pack should only propel you forward on your journey. Anything less is taking away moments during your trip that could be better spent. In the end, I was so skilled at being under-prepared, and over-packed, that I was able to give over half of what I brought with me to a boy at one of our home stays, which made lugging my bag around for the remainder of the trip much more manageable. But, after thousands of travel memories, this one sticks out crystal clear; a lesson hard learned.
After learning that lesson I purchased a better made, MUCH smaller bag for our future trips. I researched my destinations, figuring out what I would need and could do without long before I ever left home. I would pack, re-pack, and then re-pack again; all in an effort to learn from my past mistakes to properly prepare and pack before my trips. What you bring along with you when you leave home should propel you forward, not hold you down (literally and figuratively).
Maybe not everyone finds themselves in a similar experience of extreme overpacking. You could have forgotten an electrical adapter. Or your suitcase could be a disorganized mess that you’d rather keep zippered away and out of sight in the corner of your hotel room. You could even be preparing for your first trip, and unlike myself, are doing research and aren’t sure where to start. No matter your situation or type of travel, preparing and packing correctly will always be vital. With the average American only having 10 vacation days at their disposal, on top of the costs associated with travel, preparing and packing couldn’t be more important. With so little time off, do you want to even spend 1 minute of your precious vacation time concerned with what or how you packed? Once you are unplugged and enjoying your time off, doesn’t it seem a waste of mental energy to be annoyed at how big your bag is? Or worrying if you forgot something? Or concerned if you are properly prepared for your destination of choice?
Isn’t that time and energy wasted, which could be better spent on enjoying your travels? Every moment spent preparing and packing beforehand is setting you up to experience your trip in the most fulfilling way. Effective packing allows you to shift your focus away from avoidable annoyances and into the travel mindset. That ideal that we all strive for when taking time away. That feeling you get when you take a moment out of your busy day and imagine yourself in your dream getaway. That feeling when you pinch yourself during your trip, making sure that this incredible experience is real. Don’t tarnish that dream with improper packing. Live out that travel ideal, that magnificent mental state, which we call Traveling Tranquilo.
And that is where we come in. We have already compiled the resources you will need to help you prepare for your trip. Our growing encyclopedia of travel information, Tranquilo-pedia, and our expanding collection of blog posts geared towards all types of travel are available to help you research and prepare for every destination. To help you pack we have put together a high-quality apparel offering that is full of multi-purpose, durable, and highly packable items. We have also assembled a listing of travel inspired luggage, bags, and accessories to ensure you are packed correctly, no matter where your travels take you. That is our purpose and promise to you. How can we help you Travel Tranquilo?
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