How to ‘Debrief’ After a Trip

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Returning home after a long trip away can be very strange. In some ways, everything will seem exactly the same as when you left (you will probably find that all of your friends and family are doing exactly what they were doing when you left), but in other ways everything will seem different (in that you’ll have changed, and the way you see the world will have changed).

These new experiences that you’ve had will enable you to plan your trip better next time (if indeed there is a next time) or to give your friends/family advice if/when they go traveling.

Sorting Out Your Gear
One thing that people often don’t think about is what they’re going to do with all of their traveling gear once they return home.. People are often so excited with seeing their family and reconnecting with their friends that they just throw their gear in the loft/basement without a second thought.

This is fine if you NEVER intend on using it again, but in my experience, once you’ve traveled once you’re more than likely to want to do it again (people call this ‘picking up the travel bug’).

What to Do When You Return Home after Traveling
The week after you return home from traveling is the perfect time to assess your gear and to work out what was useful, what wasn’t and what changes you should make next time you travel. For example, you might have taken a sleeping bag with you and not used it once, as you didn’t realize beforehand that all of the hostels you stayed in provided bedding for you.

How to Sort Your Gear
Start by finding a large, clear space where you won’t be disturbed. Next, empty out your rucksack onto the floor. Everything you empty out should then be sorted into three main piles. These piles are:
1) Items that you used daily.
2) Items that were used at least once or occasionally.
3) Items that you didn’t use at all.

Even if you didn’t use your first-aid kit, your gear repair kit, your rain gear or your warm layer of clothing, I’d suggest putting all of these items into the first pile (as they are essential to safety/comfort).

Sorting Through the Piles
Next, take a long, hard look through piles two and three. Take the time to assess every item in these piles and ask yourself if they’re making a large contribution to your comfort/safety or not. If it’s not, it’s probably not worth taking on future trips.

The Benefits of Sorting Gear
The main benefit of going through all of your gear in this way is that you can see what you really needed and what you didn’t. This means that after each trip the amount of gear that you take with you should decrese until you have an optimal setup.

Performing Maintenance on Camping Gear
If you brought a tent with you while traveling by now it’s probably stinking to high heaven and in need of a good clean. You can wash it by hand and then air it out to prevent mildew from setting in. Your sleeping bag will also need to be aired out (by hanging it on the washing line outside), and should be left out for at least a few days. If you want to speed things up (or if it looks like it’s going to rain), chuck it in the dryer on medium heat for a cycle or two.

In Conclusion
By performing this basic maintenance of your gear, you’ve made sure that you can use it time and time again, and by sorting out your gear (into what you’ll need next time and what you won’t), you’ve made things easier for yourself the next time you decide to travel.

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