A week from Thursday, I leave for a three-week-long trip to Thailand and Cambodia! It is a two-year’s belated 25th wedding anniversary trip. I am so incredibly excited. My husband and I have been planning this trip for months. I typically pack too much and check a bag. However, for this trip, I will be paring down to the essentials so that I can to with just a carry-on suitcase and a personal bag.

It is winter here and we live about as far north as a U.S. citizen can live, at least ones who do not live in Alaska. We are traveling far east and considerably south, close to the equator. It will be very hot and humid. A certain level of modesty is requested when visiting temples, specifically that legs and the tops of shoulders be covered. Having lived in Florida and traveled in Egypt, I also know that there are advantages to being covered up in loose long clothing. It’s cooler and it provides sun protection. I have chosen my travel clothing carefully, for maximum versatility. We are also taking a short tour in Beijing, China on our way back home, and it will be considerably colder there. I have a lot of light clothes that can be layered.

One of the bigger challenges to packing a carry-on bag has been fitting all of my liquid toiletries into airline approved containers that all fit into an airline-approved-sized plastic bag. I have sensitive skin. I am picky about what kinds of cream I use as well as sun protection. Some of my skin creams are prescription and not something I could easily buy overseas, anyway. I am not the only one who is challenged by this because there now appears to be a whole industry devoted to providing liquid products in solid form, for travel. I have solid shampoo and solid conditioner. Did you know that there’s mosquito repellent available as a solid, in the form of a bracelet? There’s toothpaste that comes in pill form. Last, but not least, I have SPF 50 facial sunblock that’s  a tinted powder.

I have also found room for a few luxury items. I have not taken a really long flight since I was a 24 year-old newlywed, flying from Cairo to Seattle, in a series of many flights, including crossing the Atlantic. The flight from Seattle to Beijing will be 11 hours with no stops. That’s a long time to be sitting on a plane. We bought our tickets with frequent flyer miles but paid for an upgrade to business class, which means that our seats will fold down into a bed. I am bringing a memory foam neck pillow (I may want to drift off while in the airport), a sleep mask, and noise-cancelling headphones. I typically have a terrible time sleeping during travel. I hope this will help.

As I’ve spent the last few weeks, narrowing my choices, preparing for places I have never traveled, I think of how I’ve spent the last few months of my life. My country has scary people in charge of government. I am preparing for the times ahead by deciding what is most important in my life and where and how I will spend my resources.

Self-care is something that has been a challenge these days. I am committed to being an activist and to make enough time to do that. That is helpful but it can also be stressful. But I am doing my best and I see benefits from my efforts from the simplest actions such as no longer reading the news or engaging in social media while I am in bed. It really wasn’t a good idea before but now it makes the difference between a restful night and a stressful night.

My husband doesn’t know this but I actually thought we might have to cancel our trip when I learned who had been elected our 45th president. I felt a flash of shame at being a U.S. citizen, even though I know that I am not responsible for this mess. I can always be a better citizen of my country as well as the world, but this election result and the current administration are beyond the pale when it comes to bad choices on the part of many U.S. voters. More often than not, it is like living in two countries. Actually, that doesn’t really capture. It’s like trying to live my real life while stuck in a badly written James Bond movie.

We are going on this trip to celebrate 27 years of marriage. I am so fortunate to be able to travel and see the world.

As always, peace to you, my friends. (Also, stay tuned for travel photos!)