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Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

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A Foreign Destination....

A Foreign Destination

"Just think," said my sister, "a chance to see the world's oldest civilization, the Sphinx, the pyramids, Cairo and the Nile River." So, I made the down payment to the Adventure Travel Agency and signed the dotted line. It's always my sister that gets me into these things.

Later I received an envelope with my personalized travel handbook and all the essential information. I put it aside and didn't open it. After all, it is the long time away. But, long times have a way of shrinking into short times and suddenly I realized that it really isn't really that far away. I'd better start thinking about getting ready unless I wanted to try to do everything the last week.

I opened my travel handbook, looked it over, and turned to "the list." My sister and her husband travel all the time. She has all this stuff. She probably doesn't even unpack her suitcase. I have a few things left over from shorter trips, but "the list" has a lot of things that I don't have.

The first thing that caught my eye was "light rain jacket with hood." No, of all the things in my closet, I do not have a light rain jacket with a hood. I have a parka with a hood --too warm for one of the hottest countries in the world. Why a rain coat for the dessert? I have jackets, coats, leather jackets, fleece... Nothing works.

At least my suitcase is the right size, 20x14x9, but I can only take 40 pounds unless I want to pay extra baggage checking fees. I know how to do it. Put heavy stuff like cameras, flashlight and batteries in your personal carry-on bag, along with the stuff you can't do without, such as, prescription medicine and passport. I may collapse from the weight, but I will have my pills.

The list of things I hadn't thought of is endless. Besides the daily essentials of shampoo, toothpaste, and such, there is a long list of other "essential items" that I hadn't thought about: sunscreen, insect repellent, anti-bacteria hand cleanser, eye drops, Pepto-Bismol, and Imodium, as well as prescription antibiotics. All the liquid stuff has to fit into a one quart bag. I'm wondering how I can get a drugstore into a one quart bag.

Then there is the electrical thing.

It seems other countries have a different kind of electric current than we do. I read about adapter plugs, transformers, converters until my eyes crossed. Hair dryers need converters, but electronic stuff needs transformers. What do I need to charge my camera battery? Who knows? And furthermore the electricity is not "dependable." Guess that explains the flashlight on the list.

"Take only the things you need," recommends the book. What you "need" is two pairs of slacks, four shirts, and seven pairs of socks. Maybe I should put the clothes in a one quart plastic bag and the drugstore in my suitcase? The list also has three different types of sweaters. Why so many sweaters? "Evenings can be cool and so can air conditioning," says the handbook. I wouldn't want to freeze to death in the middle of the dessert.

I've seen pictures of the troops in Iraq. They are not wearing sweaters and raincoats.

Just do it and don't argue, I figure. Anyhow, I think I have all the stuff now. I made a trip to Target with my list and tried to get everything they recommended. After all, the list is made by trip leaders with suggestions from past travelers. Who am I to argue with experienced world travelers?

And so, if you happen to be in the airport and see an old lady with three sweaters and a raincoat on, pulling a portable drugstore on wheels, wearing combat boots, and doing an Egyptian moonwalk, that will be me. Salute and carry on.

Copyright 2010 Sheila Moss

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