Lot’s of pertinent questions there. Overpacking or Underpacking is the biggest problem coming down. In general you will find you will overpack on cold weather gear, because they provide most of what you need. When you get to the clothing distribution center you will get a general issue of clothing based on your job, but on the wall are samples of everything they have. I always get the field pants and the lightweight wind jacket and a belt extra. I also turn in things that I know I won’t use. The problem is that you need to keep your baggage weight under 70 pounds. What you will underpack on are things for recreation. Most people don’t even think about a Halloween costume, dressy clothes for get togethers or Christmas or similar items. If you are an outdoors person you may have favored things like ski’s that you will wish you mailed down. On that note mail early but don’t expect things to get here before the end of november. Priority mail envelopes get special handling. We sometimes mail down a pair of pants or something that way. It’s pretty expensive but it will generally get here first.
The general store has shirts, jackets, souveniers ect. also a basic supply of toiletry items and snacks. If you have special brands that you use ship them down.
As far as being away from loved ones, that’s different for everyone. Some people do fine others don’t. This place caters to independent people who roam the world. When they leave here most don’t go home, they travel until time to come back with only a short stay back in the states. Where do they travel? You name it. Thailand, India, Austrailia, New Zealand, China, Tibet. Europe. They trade in their free ticket home and apply the value to a new ticket somewhere else. Not everyone does that, but if the lifestyle appeals to you then you will fit in well.