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Mission Europe 2: E.T.D. 4 days

4 days to go and it still feels unreal.  I have paid exit taxes, bought my gifts, pre-packed my bags, chosen my airport outfit and changed dollars into euros.  I have left as much work done as possible, left instructions for my mail and bank payments, set out all my travel documents and made a last-minute checklist.

Just in case you are wondering what my pre-packing system is like, I will give you a little glimpse.  When I first embarked on these culinary education trips I realized I needed to become an efficient packer and traveler.  Luckily I am not a hugely girly girl, so there is no need for a huge make-up bag, jewelry kit or tons of shoes.  On most days I can even get up and leave, looking fairly normal without ever running a comb through my hair.

I will admit though, my hair is one of the few high maintenance things about me.  I have naturally curly hair and by curly I mean tight curls about the size of my pinky finger.  When left to its own devices in the humid climate of Costa Rica, my hair appears to be auditioning for a part in the Lion King Broadway production.  I have straightened my hair for going on 13 years; now using a non-chemical method that leaves it manageable and gives me the option to let it curl if I so choose.

Although I don’t pack a ton of make-up, jewelry or shoes, I do have to pack several essential hair items and tools.  When I pre-pack, clothes are selected and outfits are cross coordinated, making sure they can be dressed down or up.  I weigh each individual item.  All clothes are pressed, folded and tightly rolled.  Fitting clothes and other items into my luggage is like putting a puzzle together; every piece must fit just perfectly or be replaced by another one that does.  All gifts are placed carefully cushioned between bulkier items to avoid using bubble wrap.  All liquid items are saran wrapped, placed in a plastic bag and carefully positioned into the jigsaw of clothes and miscellaneous items.  Heavier objects are located towards the bottom of the suitcase to avoid excessive shifting.

This way, that way, quarter turn right, 15 degree turn left…  Every piece snugly buckled in and zipped up.  Luggage tag attached to an outside zipper and it is ready to go.  I generally pre-pack 2 weeks ahead of time.  This time frame allows me to reevaluate my travel necessities and downsize the original list by anywhere from 25 – 50%.  I also end up doing less last-minute laundry, seeing as I already set out what will go with me.

On to the latest developments…  My camera lens has been fixed, which means I will be a trigger happy catfish (nickname I was once given by someone I met).  One of the companies I work for is still trying to cheat me out of my hard-earned money, so I am leaving with $1000 less than expected, but will make do.  I also received a touching sponsorship in the form of an early birthday gift from one of my readers.  Thank you, Beth!  Be sure to let me know if you would like to select something from the sponsor list.

So the day approaches and I am rushing to make sure everything is order.  I will be in touch soon!

Until next time…

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