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Listing will save you from sinking

The one essential when packing to fly away for spring break remains the list.

Sure, it’s an annoying detail, to jot things down after writing, writing, writing and reading, reading, reading for 10 weeks. But the single essential for a pain-free spring break remains The List.

It’s easy to say, “I’ve only got a limited amount of stuff and it’s all crammed into one little apartment. How could I miss taking anything necessary when it all crowds in on me every day?” Surprisingly, it’s easy to omit to take something and come up short 100 or 1,000 miles away deprived of some crucial necessity.

Actually, getting ready for spring break requires two lists. List one, things to do before leaving. List two, what to take along. If going by plane, list two will subdivide: what to carry on the plane, what to surrender to the merciless tortures of the baggage handling system.

Back to list one. Numero uno on that list is the current state of prescription medications. Will the supply last the week? Does a refill need physician approval? If so, better to allow the pharmacist 48 hours to pry the approval out of the doctor. Especially if some form of inhaler is involved, better to make sure it’s got enough puffs left to last through break.

Then comes an inventory of checked out library books. Do some need to be returned to avoid those nasty overdue fines? Are there government forms that need to get filled out immediately, a chore that’s been put off? Are there overdue bills? Possibly threatening to off the phone or let the insurance lapse? Everything okay with spring registration? No fun to have to worry about that all through spring break.

Wherever the destination, even if it’s only those few miles back to mom and dad, best to leave some written information about where and when and how to be reached in case of emergency. If flying, taking a train or bus, it’s wise to double check the schedule. It’s easy to misread departure times and possibly get left at the loading point.

Now for list two. This lists the stuff that needs to go. Start at the top. Got enough money? Write down how much you’re taking. List the traveler’s checks to buy. Got tickets in hand? Don’t rely on some agency or office holding them. They may be closed due to fire, flood or robbery. Get the tickets ahead of time.

Money needs protection. There is nothing so comforting for any kind of trip as a money belt. I personally knew a woman who was robbed of all her money while holding her purse as she rode a bus in Mexico. If using a passport, some kind of protection becomes doubly necessary. Powell’s Travel Store in Pioneer Courthouse Square carries a choice assortment of security stuff.

The cell phone of course. Write it on the list. In the fluster of getting away, it could get left behind. Recall all the people who’ve saved their lives by having that cell phone handy.

Now, assuming the prescription drug supply is under control, think over-the-counter. Take an empty prescription drug phial and fill it with a compact emergency ration to carry along. A couple of antacids, some headache pills, a backup quick supply of the most critical prescriptions. Assume the worst that could happen, like sudden nausea, an asthma or allergy attack. Include a Band-Aid or two in case of a cut.

Along the health line, remember that ugly viruses and bacteria lurk in strange places. Most drug stores carry little bottles of antibacterial lotion for the hands that take up almost no room. Use it early and often. Remember that frequently the excitement of a different environment can bring on a cold, so plan and list accordingly.

Vitamins, minerals and other supplements need to go on the list. Put a supply in a separate bottle, rather than packing all those big bottles of 300 and 500 pills.

If a man, and using an electric shaver, it may need recharging, if it’s that kind. Women know enough to be prepared for the unexpected among the natural functions. But write this stuff down. If there’s a possibility for unexpected romance, include some condom protection, at the very least.

Will the drinking water en route be safe? If not, take a little bottle along. Write that on the list.

It’s all too easy to leave something behind essential to personal hygiene. List every item: toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, deodorant, mouthwash, shaving necessities, cosmetics. List a little bar of emergency soap saved from some previous stop in a motel or hotel, or that sample that came in the mail, something you can whip out on a moment’s notice. People rescued from being lost or misplaced often confess they regret most not taking a small roll of toilet paper. Wait until the home roll gets fairly small, then set it aside for the trip. Buy tiny envelopes of tissues for that unpredictable runny nose.

When it comes to clothes, list the items one by one. Which coats? Specifically which other garments? A shoe list is crucial. When it comes to shoe accidents, expect the worst, like stepping in dog doo or sinking ankle deep into mud. If going to a sandy beach, take shoes specifically for beach walking. Remember, they get sandy and the sand doesn’t come off easily. Encase the shoes in plastic grocery bags so when they get all sticky with sand, they go into those bags. What’s for sleepwear? Pajamas, a nightie or au naturel? Decide and list. A surprise at bedtime won’t be welcome. The List suitable clothes for extremes of weather. Don’t count on being able to wash underwear. List enough changes for every day plus one.

A traveling list also needs some documents. List the itinerary or timetable, along with crucial phone numbers. List some means of making calls, a phone card or phone change.

Taking gifts? Jot them down or something may be left behind.

It also helps to realize the return trip will likely bring back gifts or souvenirs. Decide and list what item of luggage will contain enough space to accommodate this extra stuff.

It helps to write on the wall calendar exactly what time to leave the campus in order to make the travel connection.

It’s easy in the heat of getting away, to forget the credit cards, the airline tickets, the proof of birth if needed. All these need to go on the list.

By now, the list may be getting too long for the available baggage. Subdivide it into what can stay behind if necessary and what absolutely must go.

One last decision to make. Every trip needs something to distract or amuse en route. A book? CDs and a portable CD player? Does the CD need batteries?

By now, the list gets quite long. It’s no time to get overconfident. The list needs to be reviewed every day. Inevitably, a recheck shows something essential left out. It’s a good idea to look around the apartment to see if anything on shelves or in cupboards or drawers jogs the memory.

This all sounds like a lot of detailed fuss and bother. Any experienced traveler will tell you it’s not. The thoroughness of the lists adds up to the best insurance ever for a spring break reasonably free from anxieties and disappointments.