About Me

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I'm just a stressed-out-perfectionist-not-so-average-cupcake-making-graduate-student-from-Kansas trying to find my place in this world.
Current Adventure: Interning for the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Practice Makes Perfect: THE PRACTICE PACK

Almost twelve months ago, my parents gave me the perfect gift for someone who loves to travel: a four-piece Diane von Furstenburg pink luggage set. Besides domestic air travel and my trip around Europe this past winter, I haven’t used it much. So, the main reason I applied to Semester at Sea was so that I could use my luggage. Just kidding. I actually wanted to see the world . . . however, using my pink bags came in at a close second. But, it turns out that we need soft-sided luggage for Semester at Sea, so I had to go to Wal-Mart and buy at 30 inch rolling duffel bag. It’s black and nowhere near as cute. However, I still love it because together we will traverse across the universe!

My beautiful pink bags:

I also need an overnight backpack for all the trips I’ll do in the countries. At first, I thought that I could just use my school backpack. I was wrong. Apparently for that trip which involves camels, the Sahara, and nomads, I will need to bring four days worth of bottled water plus everything else I need to live. So, the next step on my Semester at Sea to-do list was to buy a medium-sized frame pack. Last week, I walked into The Travel Store on a whim, and I do mean THE Travel Store. They have everything. Did you know that there is a science to backpack fitting? Did you know that there are professional backpack fitters? Who go through a three-month program to become a professional backpack fitter? Well, there is, there are, and they do. I walked into the store and was immediately drawn to a cute, pink backpack on the lowest part of the wall. I flipped over the tag and it was $49. Score! The ones that I had been looking at online were well over $100. Then, this nice, older man comes up and asks if I need a child’s backpack for a niece or someone. Then comes our awkward exchange, “uh . . . um . . . no, it’s for me.” “Ah, I see, well that’s part of our Fancy Nancy collection. The adult backpacks are over here, on the east wall.” He then proceeds to take my measurements, put a plastic cut out of a backpack on me, pick out a pack, fill it with sandbags, go and get a special backboard that was cut exactly to the shape of my back, put it in, and then he said I was ready to go. To go? I was just window-shopping. But, I felt bad because he just spent so much time on me. . . not to mention the fact that he just custom fit that backpack to my back. So, I took it, all $150 of it. This backpack better be worth it. It had also better last until I have children. They will take this backpack with them to school, because I will not be able to afford anything else after this trip.

The not-as-cute black duffel:

I now have the two main pieces of luggage I will take with me. I’m still deciding what bag I’ll take for the day trips and hanging around in the port cities.

So, the practice pack. . .I did one. I’ll have to do it again, for sure. I did this a few nights ago, and I wasn’t very thorough; I just wanted to do it to get some of my energy about the trip out. Seriously, I haven’t been sleeping I’m so excited. Semester at Sea recommends that you lay everything out that you want to take, put half back, and then pack. Hopefully I can take their advice. I need to go to Wal-Mart and get a bunch of socks (I love new socks!) and underwear. Laundry services on the ship are few and far between, so I want to be prepared. I also need to buy some Woolite hand washing packages. I think I’ll just do most of my laundry in my bathroom in order to save money and not get my clothes lost (apparently the laundry service loses and shrinks clothes frequently). I’m also going to go to Salvation Army to buy a pair of scrub bottoms for, hopefully, less than a couple bucks. I want to be able to wear them while I’m on the service trips like the Habitat for Humanity International build . . . that way, if I ruin them, I’m not out of a pair of pants that I actually like and paid good money for.

There is so. much. stuff. I still need to buy. For example, all my toiletries, the Woolite, batteries, a battery-operated alarm clock, souvenirs from Kansas for the different families that I meet in the ports, magnets (the ship walls are magnetic and tape is forbidden), pictures of family and friends, and um. . . well, that’s it. It seems like a lot more when you think about how much shampoo, toothpaste, body wash, etc. you use in four months. I guess I have already bought a lot of the stuff that I need. Last week, I bought my school supplies for the trip: one five subject notebook, one folder that has eight pockets for all the papers I’ll get, pencils, pens, a stapler, and a nice little pencil case. I’m horrible with my pencils. I always lose them. I can’t do that this semester though because I won’ have another chance to buy them. I have all my textbooks. I have all my medicine for the trip (over the counter and prescription), I have all my contact lenses, my contact solution, and a new pair of walking shoes and comfy sandals. So, I’d say I’m about fifty percent prepared so far! Not too shabby.

Maybe I’ll go practice packing again now. . . practice makes perfect and I have to get this right. I wouldn’t want to forget something important on the trip of a lifetime, would I?

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