When it comes to preparing for a trip, many people are last minute packers, but not me. I love packing. That might sound strange, but for me deciding what to bring on my adventure is the beginning of the journey. I like to consider each item and how it will fit into my trip. It helps to build my excitement for what is to come, and it makes everything feel more real, like it’s actually happening and not just a dream.

I also tend to over-pack. At times, knowing what to take and what to leave is a challenge. As the saying goes, “it is better to have and not need, than to need and not have”. However, the key word is “need”. I know that I won’t have the space or the need for every pair of sandals I own. So even though the desire to bring them all is tempting, I’ll keep all but one or two pairs safely stored away on their allotted shelf.

Gifts for my gracious host family, bathing suits (but not the revealing ones), a notebook and pens, and extra socks are some of the things I will bring on my trip. I will also have my phone. I’ll try to stay connected through blogs and twitter if the hotel accommodations for the first few days are internet-accessible. If not, I’ll keep track of my thoughts the old-fashioned way, and the notebook and writing utensils will definitely come in handy.

Bringing a phone is also good for music as well as photography as communication, but I tend to use an mp3 player (yes, I still have one of those) because it’s more reliable. No need to worry about wifi, connection, data usage, or getting stuck with your phone battery at 2%. I love listening to music on planes and selecting the perfect song for takeoff. I bring my tunes everywhere, but rather than using music to block out my surroundings I use it as a way to enhance them. I love having the perfect musical accompaniment for whatever I’m doing, as if my life is a music video. Nevertheless, when the battery runs out, or if the situation calls for it, I’m more than happy to enjoy the sounds of laughter and conversation, or the sounds of birds, crickets, waves, thunder, wind, and rain. Nature’s soundtrack is the loveliest music of all.

-Tanaia