How to Prepare for an International Trip

Many of you in the know are aware that I'm headed overseas tomorrow to attend my friends' wedding.1  My students, however, are in ignorance of this fact. They're blissfully unaware that when they show up for school next week, they'll be greeted by a dreaded substitute.2

With all of the work that must be invested ahead of time for a teacher to miss a week of classes in the middle of the school year (and it's a LOT), I've put off actually doing anything to get myself ready for the trip until right now -- after 6:00pm the night before. 

Fortunately, I'm such a pro at preparing for international trips that even cutting the packing and prep this closely, I still have time to sit down and blog about it before commencing with the actual grunt work.3

How to Prepare for an International Trip: 

STEP ONE: Initiate Passport Protocol. If you are anything like me, your Passport Protocol looks something like this: a few days before the trip, start setting things out in order to save time on the actual packing day. With this in mind, take your passport out of the wooden box on your dresser and set it over on the bookshelf by the luggage where it will be easy to see when you're packing.  Then forget about it. Pile some clean clothes on top of the passport. A few days later, while packing under a time crunch, open the wooden box on your dresser to discover that your PASSPORT IS MISSING.  Start tearing the house apart. Really go for it. Dig to the bottom of your closet, bent over at the waist and flinging everything that you own over your shoulder until it all makes a huge pile in the middle of the room. In a true panic, with a film of sweat coating your upper lip and visions of displeased-looking TSA officials dancing in your head, dash to Google and feverishly type in key phrases such as "EMERGENCY MISSING PASSPORT REPLACEMENT" and "OVERNIGHT PASSPORT RUSH JOB" before suddenly remembering that you've set your passport out earlier in the week so that it would be easier to find while packing.

STEP TWO: Watch your Packing P's and Q's. This means getting past important mental obstacles, such as realizing that 1) all of the clothing that you own is WRONG, that 2) what is not wrong is STUPID, that 3) what is not wrong and stupid is actually FRAYED and/or BLOTCHED, and that 4) everything else is IN THE HAMPER. After a furious and somewhat confusing inner dialogue, convince yourself that it's going to be both more time efficient and financially responsible just to wash, dry, fold, and pack all of your dirty clothes than to go buy an entirely new wardrobe just for this trip.4 Once you've successfully navigated this treacherous mental puzzle, go do your laundry and pack.

STEP THREE: Observe Alarm Clock Conventions.  Since 9/11, navigating airports has become both trickier and more time consuming than ever. It's a good idea to be better than on-time, especially if your flight is international. This means that even though your phone's alarm clock has never failed you once, it's still necessary not only to check at least five times that the alarm is set properly, but it's also prudent to have a back-up alarm system planned.  In addition to your phone alarm, go ahead and dig out that old clock radio that you've been meaning to donate to Goodwill. This way when you have to get up at some horrific hour the next morning to catch your flight, you'll get to wake up not only to an annoying blast of frenetic beeps, but also to the obnoxiously-jovial warblings of your local radio personalities. 

Even with the clock radio as a backup, it's still probably necessary for your body to wake you up every forty-five minutes so that you can ensure that both your alarms haven't let you down. This is only to be expected.

The truth is that getting ready for any trip--especially an international one--is generally the worst part of the whole experience. Once you're finally out there, you will find that all of the pressure of planning falls away, leaving you with a sense of sweet, sweet freedom.

Remember that there's a big, beautiful world out there waiting for a visit from you

Hope to see you out there!
1. Yes, the apostrophe positioning is correct. TWO of my friends are getting married TO EACH OTHER. 
2. Although preparing lesson plans for my sub wasn't as tedious as it usually is, because the girl subbing for me is one of my former STUDENTS who is now a bona fide ADULT with a COLLEGE DEGREE and a HUSBAND and EVERYTHING. Because she was one of my students, there's no need to write out all of my tedious classroom routines and expectations -- she's already experienced them first hand. YAY!
3. Also, blogging when I feel the pressure of a deadline is one of my well-established routines. It's part of my process. Don't judge.
4. Unless, of course, you are a guy. Since guys don't have to try most things on and can also get away with finding one shirt that they like and then just buying it in every color, it would probably be quicker for them to go buy a new wardrobe than to wash what they already own before packing.


  1. Ha! Try planning and packing an international trip with four pre-schoolers only 16 hours before take off, including organising a rental car with a travel agent who doesn't know anything and getting a passport for a seven week old in less than three hours. I did the 'where did I put the passports?' thing too. I definitely broke my rule of never packing the day of a trip. I think the only thing I forgot is the ipad but that may have been a good thing because we're not being distracted by it.

    And it's good to be a guy. I think it took less than five minutes to pack all my clothes, a good thing as it was the last thing I needed to pack and we were really under time pressure.

    Finally, I can now say with the authority of experience that the Air New Zealand 'Skycouch' seat is the ultimate in economy class travel.

    1. Oh, gosh. I don't know HOW people with kids (lots of kids, especially) leave the house at all. HATS OFF to all who do.

    2. Sometimes I'm not sure how we manage to get out of the house either. I don't know how some families manage to be early for Church on Sundays!

      Enjoy the trip!

    3. Thanks! Can't wait to come see you some day! It's still a goal, just a goal without a set date.

  2. You left a 'see' out of that last sentence. Unless you don't really want to see us out there. I'm now wondering how long it'll take for you to see this comment and make the correction. Enjoy your freedom!


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