(… or at least trick yourself into thinking you’ve prepared)
If you’re looking for a fun challenge, or a real-life Tetris game, try to fit all the clothes and belongings you’ll need for an entire year into manageable luggage. I’m starting my Watson Fellowship tomorrow, and will be visiting at least 4 continents over the next 365 days. (Check out the tab above to read more about the grant and my project). Because I can’t return to the U.S. for the whole year, planning and packing for a variety of climates and dress codes has been quite the task over the past month. My preparations have yet to be tested, but I’ve discovered a few valuable, if not practical, tips along the way:
1. Find yourself 2 brothers, a sister, and a lifelong friend who will drive home from Houston and Austin to say bye and help you pack… and to claim all the valuables you’re leaving behind (Luke).
2. Spend as much time as possible with your parents and friends, whether cooking, renting disturbing documentaries, or watching your dad hand-feed peanuts to his squirrel friends. Also, be sure to burden your mom and dad with hours of logistic help and jokes about shotgun weddings.
3. Seek advice from experts related to the purpose of your trip (running, for me). Some, like 3-time Olympic Champion and former world record holder Peter Snell, will live nearby and graciously invite you into their home. (I learned, among many things about New Zealand, that Dr. Snell ran to and from his 8:30-5 job everyday and considers warming up overrated.) Others, like former Adams State and U.S. Olympic Coach Joe Vigil, will call you with ideas, contacts and contagious enthusiasm for all things running. And still others, like my Rice Coach Jim Bevan, will unknowingly inspire this whole project and help you in more ways than you can count.
4. Don’t be afraid to blast Christmas music for 3 weeks straight. If you’re like me and your holiday season begins on Halloween, this is a great excuse to start a little early. While I’m sure Christmastime in places like Ethiopia will be awesome, it’s important to get your familiar fix in while you still can.
5. Waste a few hours creating one of these:
6. Finally, don’t worry if your own mosaic looked like the picture above. Hope that you have an awesome and packing-savvy aunt who will miraculously fit everything into these:
A couple last thoughts before I fly to London, my first stop: Thank you in advance for delaying all major life changes and extremely fun events until August 2013. And Mom, if my homeless sign collection is gone when I come back, you better hope Dad shares his souvenirs with you. Love and peace to you all!