Even the most seasoned of traveler can’t get everything right. They’ll come home from long trips abroad and have laundry lists of things they’d do differently. But the difference between a seasoned traveler and a rookie, is that their list is developed over time. Rookies find all their mistakes in the first few days. Save yourself some trouble and get trained before you travel.
Gather all your belongings, clothes, toiletries, gadgets, gizmos and chargers and pack them into whatever bags you intend to carry. Make sure everything fits and that the most important things are accessible. Try unpacking and packing several times to find the best use of space. Next, try carrying all your bags at once. Don’t just pick them up, try and maneuver down hallways, stairs and through doors. Consider how you can consolidate and simplify to move lighter, faster and more comfortably.
Take out those brand new, super comfortable shoes you bought for your trip and lace them up. New shoes, especially thicker hiking boots, need a decent break-in period before they conform and fit your foot properly. Wear them on all sorts of surfaces and try wearing them while carrying your bags. You may find that what was comfortable in the store isn’t as good for extended periods of time with weight on.
After you’ve successfully packed your Venturesafe 400, lock up your closets, dressers and drawers and try living off of those supplies for a few days. This forces you to figure out what you still need and what you can do without. To discourage cheating, go on a weekend trip with your long-term travel kit and see how you’ll survive away from home.
If you’ve decided how you’ll stay in touch while you’re away, practice that form of communication while it’s not an emergency. Of course e-mail and postcards are easy, but if you’ve never used Skype or calling cards before it will pay to explore their options and get out any kinks in your accounts before you find yourself on a keyboard with no recognizable characters in shady internet cafe, desperate to reach home.
Rent movies that are based in the places where you plan on traveling, ideally in the native language. Not only does this help train your ear to recognize familiar words, it will also help ease you into a different culture. You’ll get a taste of the sights that will soon be all too familiar. Movies are also a great way to get excited for an upcoming excursion.