I am officially into the seven day countdown until my team leaves for a week in Thailand. I have traveled a little in the past but haven’t left the country in oh, I don’t know, 15+ years, and never to go to the opposite side of the globe. I tend to be a teensy bit stressed out when I travel, as evidence of my overall lack of control in this world tends to be magnified when airlines make promises they may or may not keep. I much prefer a road trip for this reason, but the team vetoed taking the ol’ Honda minivan to Southeast Asia, so off we’ll go to the airport with fingers crossed. I have prepared to the extent that I am able, but given the fore mentioned lack of experience, I would use caution with my travel tips. But inadequate as it is, here is my list:
1. Read. While documentaries have also been helpful, I love books and find my thinking challenged deeply by both fiction and nonfiction. I can’t imagine attempting to embrace the world without reading. Though Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof has impacted me most for this journey, my latest reads (not all entirely relevant to this trip) have been Overrated by Eugene Cho, Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, and Reading the Bible with the Damned by Bob Ekblad. And thanks to the wonders of technology, I have about a half dozen more books waiting on my electronic bookshelf to entertain me on my 15 hour Chicago to Tokyo flight. XOXO, my beloved Kindle app.
2. Shop at Target. This has become something of a problem because I live by the philosophy that if Target doesn’t sell it, I don’t need it…but usually they do sell it, so clearly I probably need it. Probably. My backpack for the plane is starting to feel like I’ve filled it with rocks so perhaps I’ve been mislead? No. No, absolutely not. Target only has my best interests at heart, I’m sure.
3. Get vaccinations. Because I hear typhoid is NOT something we should all try once. And I haven’t had a tetanus shot since I was in grade school so maybe it was time? I spent the two days following begging Brian just to saw my arm right off because apparently that shot hurts for a while afterward. Yes indeed.
4. Pray. Which sounds good, unless you stop asking God to bless you and start asking how you might glorify him. Apparently he sees that as a good opportunity to suggest crazy stuff like uprooting pride and relinquishing control. Which is about as much fun as a tetanus shot and takes a lot longer.
5. Get my passport. I did this several months ago but it bears mentioning because I did so with all three kids in tow. I was ninth on the list that day for processing in a facility with no public restroom. Children cried. One might have laid on the floor. I may have loudly voiced annoyance with people who show up without their paperwork completed. I despaired but having already tried unsuccessfully the previous day, I was not about to go for round three.
6. Bible study. I signed up for a timely study on the book of James at church, and he is kindly smacking me with his thoughts on trials, temptation, anger, and favoritism, just to name a few. Faith in action is not for the faint of heart. You might even end up having to get a tetanus shot which clearly requires a genuine commitment to the cause. Because did I mention that it hurts?
7. Meet with the team. I am blessed to be traveling with five women from our church that I already enjoy. We have met weekly to plan and learn what we can about Destiny Rescue, Thailand, and each other. Thumbs up on all counts.
8. Pack. We’ve been instructed to limit ourselves to a carry on suitcase and a backpack. Which is fine and not that difficult once I stop trying to plan for every possible scenario. Because apparently I can actually buy things there! What a novel idea. And if I forget, I can just look at the labels of many of the things I already own, those handy little “Made in Thailand” reminders.
9. Look at a map of Thailand. You would think this might have been step 1, but you would be wrong. This is what happens when someone else is entirely in charge of all travel arrangements…you let them. Easy peasy. But then I began to wonder why we had to fly instead of drive from Bankok to Chiang Rai, where we will spend the majority of our time. Turns out they’re on opposite sides of the country. Maps. So clever.
10. Grocery shop. Because my family would like to eat while I’m gone. To my shame, the unanimous request was for cereal. There are now eight, EIGHT, boxes of cereal in our house and I still felt the need to remind them to ration it. It’s like I’m living with four Jerry Seinfelds. (Hollah if you get that reference. My TV-watching prowess peaked in the 90’s so that’s as relevant as I get.)
Other than the teeth-chattering anxiety set to begin in 4-5 days, I’m ready to go. My plan is to post a few times while we’re there as we should have wifi at the team house where we’ll be staying. If not, I’ll just bore you with the details when I get back. Be excited.