I picked up a 6-week, inter-library loan on campus the other day, and the return date was none other than my departure date for Argentina. Aack! I've got as many to-do lists as a woman could wish for, but checking things off the lists is proving harder. So the packing/planning/copying/reserving/panicking begins in earnest. I spent half the morning today in front of the department photocopier, putting together a course packet that I could then scan and email to myself. But the scan was too big and the email never arrived, so I'll have to scan it again, part I and part II. I spent yesterday evening poring over guidebooks and web sites looking for weather information, needing to answer that all-important question: what should we pack? With different parts of the family heading in different directions at different times this fall, we're counting suitcases and wondering what can be borrowed, what must be bought. I'm a big believer in taking far less clothing and way more money than you think you'll need on any given trip; I have almost never wished I had more stuff to cart around. Still, we hate to be caught short, without the crucial book/tool/sweater that would make everything run smoothly.
It's also important to leave some room in the luggage for the trip home. Souvenirs, presents, paraphernalia-- call it what you will (I like the terms "research materials" and "realia for teaching purposes," both of which sound more purposeful than the "ephemera" we used to sell at the used bookstore where I worked in college). I'm already daydreaming about book shopping in Buenos Aires and Rosario. When we returned from our year in Ecuador in 1980, my parents would station one kid at each pile of luggage, then ferry suitcases and bundles from one to the next. That trip, we were bringing home gorgeous hand-tinted photographs, a huge wheel of cheese, copious research notes, the usual clothes and books, and two blow-guns.
Easy to take along: virtual reading material in the form of links to favorite blogs. I've added a list of a few I enjoy reading, with more to follow. Do have a look if you haven't read them yet and, in a comment, take a moment to mention your own favorites that I might have missed.