Rookie Backpacker Travel Fail

My first backpacking trip was in the summer of 2005 following graduation from University of Washington. Once you decide you’re going backpacking for the 1st time, one of the first major questions to answer is “what to pack?”

My friend and I made the massive mistake of packing sleeping bags. We arrived in London in late June, realized hostels had sheets and that we were not going to need sleeping bags on our journey, knew we didn’t want to carry them around with us for 2 months, and 3 days later we shipped those bulky sleeping bags to my friend’s family’s house in Slovakia from a post office in Paris. Had we not been able to ship them within the EU, we would have just given them to someone on the street.

Lesson: you don’t need a sleeping bag to backpack Europe. And I can assure you beyond a doubt you won’t want to lug a bulky sleeping bag around day after day.

I’m betting every first timer makes a mistake — what’s the biggest rookie mistake you made on your first trip?

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Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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  • I have to disagree! If you have a sleeping bag then you don’t have to pay to rent sheets! Maybe hostels didn’t do that in 2005 but they sure do now. And on overnight busses and trains that totally (and always) misuse the air conditioning, its a real life saver.

    Jade Johnston –

  • But sleeping bag? They are way too big. A sleep sack like this one? Yes. I have one of those (though I didn’t on my first few trips). before every trip, I seem to wander to REI and buy a few more sweet pieces of travel gear :)