Once upon a time, young Tara attempted to pack her whole life into a suitcase. No, really. This travel packing story begins when I tried to pack a bajillion items into overstuffed suitcases. Talk about starting strong with the epic travel packing fails. It wasn’t pretty and in fact was probably both hilarious and aggravating for those around me to witness.
The plot thickens because this happened 3 times. The first time was when I moved to Ireland. The second time was when I took a job on a remote island in South Korea. And the third time was for an RTW, followed by a move to New Zealand.
Rookie Packing Mistakes
When moving to Ireland I made all of the rookie mistakes. Just ask my friend Hannah. She wisely convinced me that no, I should most definitely not try to pack up my Irish pots and pans to bring to Canada. Yes, that actually happened (I spy with my little eye, pots and pans in the photo below). Other rookie mistakes I made included using a heavy suitcase and packing far too much. Let’s be honest though, they aren’t as cringe-worthy as trying to pack kitchen supplies into my suitcase. Ah well – makes for a funny story!
With Korea I packed a suitcase full of shoes (the black one on the left) in addition to a gigantic suitcase full of clothes (big blue). In my defense, there was zero possibility of being able to purchase shoes in Korea as a 6’0″ female who wears a size 10. Don’t believe me? Check out the chart below. A size 10 women’s shoe doesn’t even exist there!
The Rookie Becomes the Amateur
In 2017 my partner and I decided to travel around the world for 4 months before moving to New Zealand. Using only a travel backpack, a small day pack, and a normal backpack, I was ready for months of car camping and life in a new country. At this point I believed I was a packing pro. (Spoiler Alert: I was close, but not yet!)
I purchased rollable rubber boots, a sleeping bag, a blanket, thermal leggings and shirts, Merino wool socks, a kickass foldable water bottle, and a headlamp for the trip. Attempting to convince my partner he needed to do the same to stay warm and hydrated didn’t work. He still isn’t convinced, but I used each and every single item!
The only downfall to having all of my new gear was trudging up some very steep hills to our Croatian AirBnB and no longer being able to carry everything without back pain. D definitely wasn’t convinced. He graciously carried my bag up the hill, after carrying his own all the way up. I had broken the cardinal rule of packing we had growing up: if you can’t carry it, you can’t bring it. Shit.
After the coldest part of our trip was over, we shipped the warmer gear to a friend living in Australia (thanks Reid!). I returned to Canada for Christmas and lugged the warm gear to our storage unit. Now I could enjoy the Kiwi summer unencumbered.
Could This Be Pro Packing Status?
It wasn’t until 2019 when I went on 3 international trips and 2 domestic trips all using only a carry-on that I properly achieved pro packing status. You might say I was majorly surprised and proud at the same time.
From Epic Travel Packing Fails to…
I’m sure there’s more to learn about packing, but hey, it’s been an interesting learning curve and you get to be entertained by all of my epic travel packing failures! Through my flops and wins, I’ve honed my skills over the years. I’m passing on some tried and tested tips and tricks over in TMc’s Ultimate Packing Tips. Head on over and let me know what you think.
If you’ve got any hilarious or cringe-worthy packing fails, or even any expert packing stories, share them below. Cheers, travel friends!