Travelling and leaving home: How not to do it


I’m not generally a disorganised sort of person. I worked as a personal assistant for a good many years; a job where your organisation skills have to be top notch. And when it comes to travelling, I’ve always been borderline paranoid; making sure I have everything I need, leaving for the airport/train station super early just in case, triple checking that I’ve locked all the doors and windows…. Yet for some reason, when I planned my biggest travel adventure yet, organisation went right out of the unlocked window. Here’s how NOT to start your trip.

Decide to move out and fly on the same day
Because there’s nothing more stressful than moving house. And there are few things more stressful than travelling. So, of course, it makes perfect sense for you to do both of these things on the same day. It helps if you haven’t finished packing either for your trip or your move, so you spend all morning frantically trying to get everything finished off before the inventory clerk arrives to do the tenancy check-out. But it’s ok because you don’t have to physically vacate the premises when the inventory clerk is there….do you?

Leave all your packing to the last minute
Well the answer to that question is yes, you do have to physically leave the premises when the inventory clerk is there. That means the property should be completely empty and completely clean. Leaving all your packing to the very last minute and totally underestimating (a) just how much stuff you have and (b) how long it would take to get rid of it all is the perfect way to move house. Doing it this way means that you still have a houseful of crap to remove when you’re supposed to be out of the door and it also means that you won’t have finished packing for your trip when you’re meant to be travelling to the airport in a matter of hours.

Keep working right up until the bitter end
Don’t worry about leaving yourself an free week or so to sort out all your packing and logistics. Keep working at your full-time job right up until you’re due to leave the country. It’s fine – you need the extra money and you don’t have that much to do really…

Have a break down in front of a stranger
By the time the inventory clerk arrived to do the check out, I was in a state of frenzy. So when she pointed out that the house hadn’t been cleaned to an appropriate standard – despite me hiring “professional” cleaners – and that I would have to vacate the house when she was done….well let’s just say it was the straw that broke the stressed person’s resolve. I burst into tears right in front of this woman who I had known for all of five minutes. Yeah, sometimes I’m not great at adulting.

Lock yourself out of your house on your last day
I lived in my last place for 8 years and not once did I lock myself out. Until my very last day when I had to leave for the airport in a couple of hours and I still hadn’t finished moving my stuff. I was in such a tizz about everything, I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing. In my haste to take yet another load of stuff down to the charity shop, I picked up my back door keys by mistake and dashed out of the front door… The panic that set in upon realising my error is not something I wish to repeat. Especially as I didn’t even have my phone with me. My landlady had recently moved to a new lettings agency so I had to power walk to their office, praying all the way that they would have a spare set of keys. Fortunately they did, but the whole incident ate into my limited time.

Get a new phone but don’t set it up until you’re about to leave the house
Then realise that it doesn’t work properly when you’ve officially vacated your house and you’re trying to book an Uber to the airport and it’s raining.

Pack for your travels in a really impractical way and don’t do a test run before leaving
I had a medium-sized wheely bag that you could also wear as a rucksack. I thought this was a really genius thing to use, as I didn’t want to have to carry a heavy bag on my back if I could help it. Not realising that the frame and wheels of this sort of bag made it much heavier than necessary. So I planned to take this and then my normal sized rucksack as a day bag. But then I discovered a much bigger rucksack at the back of a cupboard – a brand new one that I had forgotten all about. It was, like, a “proper” rucksack; bigger than a day bag but not as big as a backpacking type of bag. So, I reasoned, why not take this one as my day bag instead? And then use a tote bag/mini rucksack for wandering around town etc? Yes, that would be a great idea. Until I tried to carry everything. I was so weighed down with bags that I couldn’t even get onto the escalator at Earls Court tube station. I eventually ditched the wheely bag and learned how to pack in a more streamlined way – making travelling a thousand times easier.

Leaving a life behind to travel the world is exciting and wonderful and full of possibility – but it’s also stressful and annoying and potentially a logistical nightmare. Don’t make it more difficult than it has to be.

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