The following is a guest submission from Laura Bronner.
I sat down on the floor of my dorm room in Port Douglas, a questionable act in itself, and began unpacking my bag one item at a time. I was three weeks into my 8 week trip and I had to find the source of my unbearably heavy backpack.
In the last four years I have packed up all of my belongings and squeezed them into an 80L backpack a total of five times. You’d think I’d have it down pat by now. I thought I did, anyway. The 6th time I packed my bag was going to be perfect.
I was only going to pack what I absolutely needed and the rest would be left behind.
My two month trip around Australia would include hiking through the outback and lying on beaches dotted along the Queensland Coast. All I needed were a few t-shirts, a pair of shorts, maybe a dress or two and my bathing suit. In my mind, that was exactly what I had packed.
When it came time to hoist that sucker on my back I could just about lift it off the ground. At the airport they told me it weighed 19 kilograms, just one kilogram shy of the limit. It was right around this time I started wondering what I had packed that could make it so heavy. I knew a lot of it was books; up until that point I swore I would never buy an e-reader, so instead I suffered the consequences of carrying a small library on my shoulders.
As I made my way through the books over the first few weeks and left them behind at hostels, I couldn’t help but notice that my bag still wasn’t getting any lighter. That was how I found myself propped up against one of the bottom bunks of my 6-bed dorm room chatting to Mike from Manchester, England letting the air-conditioner attempt to cool me from behind. It was time to find out why this bag was weighing me down.
I found an umbrella, a camping shower, and at the very bottom, a pile of shirts fit for a night out on New Year’s Eve. I also found two pairs of sneakers, two pairs of sandals and a pair of ballet flats. I say found because I didn’t know any of this was in there and I wasn’t using or wearing them. Who packed this bag?
I couldn’t believe what a faux pas I had made; these were rookie mistakes and I knew better. But I do it every single time I pack for a trip; I am a chronic over-packer. The worst part is that no matter how much I pack, without fail, I always end up wearing the same pair of shorts and two or three t-shirts for the entire trip.
I’m going to try something different this time around. Seventh times the charm, right? I’m going to buy a new backpack. It’s going to be small; so small in fact that I will have no choice but to carefully consider every single thing I put inside it. That and I bought an e-reader.
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About the Author: Laura Bronner is an American Expat about to pack up again and head to South Korea. After graduating from college she set off on what was meant to be a year of travel. That was three years ago. Since then she has lived and travelled all over New Zealand and Australia and the list of where else she wants to live grows longer every day. Follow along on her adventures at An American Abroad.