It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again: stop packing, back away from your bag or case or car, take a deep breath and then remove about half of the stuff you think you ‘can’t live without’.
When Adam drove away from our house that morning (to work, where we’d meet him later that afternoon), the car was loaded up to such a degree that there was nowhere for me to sit, nowhere for our friend Will to sit and he was entirely reliant on his wing-mirrors, as using the rear-view one revealed only a mountain of bags covering the back window.
Now, we were dealing with a “Chevrolet” (formerly Daewoo) Matiz. The sort of car that looks like something you might see a gardener driving around a National Trust Estate, or something you’d expect to manoeuvre around a Go-Kart track. That being said, given a last minute change in plans, which meant we now needed to fit three of us, plus three lots of luggage (and camping equipment) for a month all the way from Chester to Brussels (before we could trade it in and upgrade for
a grown-up car.), we could probably have done without the multiple maps, numerous notebooks and comedy Arnold Schwarzenegger masks (that’s a lie- they were totally worth it). We had cups and plates and BBQs that went unused, a diablo toasted sandwich maker (which we managed to break, despite never actually seeing the light of day, let alone a fire) and yet whenever we did a park and ride I’d find myself in a hotel without a razor, any shampoo or enough underwear, because the swath of other items were too much to wade through.
Adam and I also went about 10 days without a towel. Whilst you can do this,
I would not recommend it. There are a lot of hostels in Europe that don’t provide towels as standard and whilst I’m sure you could have rented them, neither of us ever mastered the art of remembering to do so before we’d got in the shower. Will, on the other hand had invested in an ingenious bath sheet that folded up tiny and dried in a matter of hours. Smug git. We eventually picked a couple of cheap ones up when we arrived in Budapest and hit a supermarket. Not much of a souvenir, but it’s easily one of my best purchases!
Now, for those who suffer from anxiety, it can be really difficult NOT to over pack for a trip, but the main thing you need to remember, unless you’re heading to a third-world country, is that you WILL be able to buy stuff out there, and most of the time for little more (or even less) than you’d pay at home. For instance, we bought back up toothbrushes from a “pound shop” (euro shop?) on one of our stop-offs.
The other thing to remember is to limit yourself. You will always keep packing as much as you can fit, no matter the size of your bag (even if that bag is a car!) so do consider your items carefully. If you’re not taking a car, make sure that your bag is smaller than you think it needs to be and if you do have a car, perhaps limit yourself to ONLY the boot and go back and repack and remove items if you have overflow. Like I say, you’ll only end up unable to access most of your stuff if you over-pack anyway!
Despite being a ridiculously tight squeeze, as soon as Adam clocked out of work we stormed stuttered onwards down the M6 to Folkestone, entertaining ourselves by staring at passing drivers in our Arnie (and Robbie Williams) masks (told you they were worth it!); singing along to our road trip playlist; and stopping for Will to (fail to) fill up on a family-sized KFC (there were was no unchained adventure on this trip!). Whilst the plan had been to get an early night, with Will now in tow there was no chance of that. As it was such a last minute move, he was going to be in with us, kipping on a coffin-like futon without any bedding and suffice to say we were all drunk with anticipation (or certainly acting that way!)
With ‘Community’ quotes (“It’s the DEAN!”) ringing in the air, we finally managed to get to sleep at close to midnight. With an early start the next morning and a fairly basic (cheap and cheerful) British chain hotel in the middle of nowhere, the sensible move would probably probably have been to get a better night’s sleep, but sometime all the tips or advice in the world can’t help you :p. Besides, travelling (even when you’ve yet to leave the country!) isn’t the time to do the ‘sensible’ thing anyway.