The most complete vacation packing list in the galaxy

vacation repost pool

Have you ever arrived to your vacation spot only to be missing a crucial item?  It is more than a hassle.  It’s a distraction, annoyance, and frustration.  I am a frequent culprit of forgetting things for trips, especially toiletries.  One time I led a cabin of guys at a camp through an obstacle course wearing Tretorns and yoga pants.  But that’s a story for another time.  Don’t be unprepared.  Onward.


  1. Passport/ID/license/credit cards
  2. Electronic devices AND chargers
    1. Ipad charger, car phone charger
    2. I have one of those little mophies that will charge my cell phone 2 whole charges. Just in case I am stranded somewhere and the phone is dead.
  3. Marpac noise machine (I like white noise, especially when rooming with someone—more often than not you will get someone who snores like a banshee)
  4. Toiletries – check or carry-on (I have 2 different pre-prepared toiletry kits—one for check and one for carry-on)
    1. If you are really responsible all liquids in ziplocks in case of breakage or spillage.
  5. Medication
  6. House key
  7. Trash bag for dirty clothes
  8. Water bottle
  9. Travel Alarm clock (I don’t like to sleep next to my phone because I will surf aimlessly instead of going to bed).
  10. iPod (Yes I am one of the few who still use an iPod for exercise.  You might want it for running—especially if you are going to the beach, you may not want to run with your phone and get it all sandy)


  1. Boxers
  2. Undershirts
  3. Socks-athletic and dress
  4. Pijamas
  5. Jeans
  6. Shirts
  7. Pants
  8. Shorts
  9. Sweater
  10. Dressy outfit? Church or meeting?
  11. Belt(s)
  12. Running or workout gear/shoes
  13. Sweatshirt
  14. Swimsuit?
  15. Jacket?/Rain coat?
  16. Dress shoes/Flip flops

For Flights:

  1. Eyemask
  2. Ambien (or Jack Daniels minis)
  3. Earplugs
  4. Travel pillow

Maybe?/Other miscellaneous stuff

  1. Aux cord
  2. Retainer (don’t laugh, it’s a mouth guard for grinding)
  3. Tickets (airline, concert, sporting event, etc.)
  4. Contacts/solution
  5. Extra pair of glasses
  6. Night light or small flash light
  7. Cigars (you should try them–they are celebratory and relaxing)
  8. Snacks/Protein bars
  9. Sunglasses
  10. Sunscreen
  11. Kan Jam, Corn Hole, or other lawn games
  12. Aerobed/air mattress
  13. Towel
  14. Golf clubs
  15. Ravens/Orioles (your favorite team paraphernalia)

Check out this list from another site.  It’s almost as good and even has detailed toiletries.

What would you add?  What did I miss?

Happy Vacationing!  I hope it is the best one yet.



How to prepare to have the best vacation ever

vacation repost overlook

If you’re anything like me, sometimes you’re just trying to make it to your vacation.  This affects your preparation and remembering to do things to make your vacation the best it can be.  Check out Michael Hyatt’s podcast How to vacation like a pro.  He and one of my friends Michele Cushatt (an incredible person!) give a 40,000 foot view.  Let’s get down on the runway and help you prepare to take the trip of a lifetime.  Here’s all the practical stuff to bring/do to make your vacation the best it can be.


  1. Start a list! Make your list of things to do and also things to pack (will be next week’s post!).  This will take the guessing game out of vacation/going away.  Keep it in your phone or somewhere easily accessible as you think of things.

1-2 weeks out:

6 Things to do the week before vacation or longer travel:

  1. Email your itinerary and travel plans to a trusted friend. (my parents always send my sister and I this when they travel)
  2. Let a trusted neighbor know you will be gone and to keep an eye out.
  3. Put a hold on your mail and newspaper (do people still get those?). You can do it online with the USPS.
  4. Check any bill due dates and pay them. Getting a late fee after a great vacation is like a punch in the throat.
  5. I have a rule where I don’t pack the day I’m leaving. This makes me pack the night before and gives me some time to remember things that aren’t on the list.
  6. Get ahead on work.  Look over the next 2 weeks and see what might need to get done.  Be crazy efficient the last couple of days.

If going international:

  1. Make copies of important documents (passport if going international, or drivers license) and stash them in your carryon.
  2. Call your cell phone company and find out what the dealio is. (I got home from the Middle East once and had a phone bill that was 10x my monthly bill!)
  3. Call your credit card companies and let them know you will be traveling. Don’t want to get caught in the middle of Australia and not be able to rent a snorkel.
  4. Find out the electric where you are going and get adapters

Day before or day of:

  1. Adjust the thermostat
  2. Unplug heavy electronics
  3. Empty fridge of perishables and remove trash from your house
  4. Start automatic timers for your lights if you have them
  5. Set your security system if you have one
  6. Lock all windows and doors
  7. Check the weather forecast and add a couple items of clothing accordingly
  8. Set vacation responders—email and phone message (and extend it to the day after you get back—this will allow you to get caught up).
  9. Move your spare key (maybe under the mat or in the flower pot are not great spots)
  10. Close your curtains. (helps with the utilities and with creepers)

What did I miss?  Please leave it in the comments.

Next week:  The most helpful (complete) packing list ever!



Can you fall in love with the wrong person?

Bachelor olivia gif crazy mouth open

Can you fall in love with the wrong person?  With someone you’re not meant to be with?

“In reality, there is more to forever than simply finding someone who you feel extremely connected to. We have to stop allowing this surge of feeling to act like a compass towards healthy relationships…when life throws us some less than perfect situations we need more than more than an emotional upwelling of exhilaration.”   –Bianca Sparacino

OK I may have watched the majority of the Bachelorette premiere on Monday.  Don’t judge me.  I’m a big fan of Jo Jo.  Did the producers force her to give a rose to a couple of those jackwagons?  They had to.  Also, did she know she gave a rose to a Erectile Dysfunction therapist?  I loved the part where Jo Jo had never heard of the viral vine “Damn…Daniel.”  And that guy tried to explain it to her.  He sounded crazy when he asked exasperatedly (like that word?) “Have you been on the internet in the last 2 months?”  But really how has Jo Jo never heard of it?!  Isn’t she up on pop culture?!  She’s the freakin’ Bachelorette!

Can you fall in love with the wrong person?  I think we all want to answer “no” but we know better.  Yes.  A resounding YES.  Most of us have “been in love” with someone who was the wrong person.  Sometimes we know at the beginning they were just plain wrong for us but the chemistry or attraction is so strong we stay.  We say we will just “see where it goes” and before you know it, you love someone who is terrible for you.  I often disorder my loves and loves things in the wrong order.  In the same way I can misorder the criteria by which I am making my decision.  One of my mentors Jim Cunningham sent me some thoughts on this a while back.  I mustache you to read them.  Don’t shave them for later.  (Bachelorette and Cunningham jokes)

Jim cunningham in dress

This is one of my wise mentors Jim. In his favorite outfit

“Our culture tells us that falling in love is the acid test of relationships.  And if you love someone a LOT you should obviously marry them.  Love is NOT the most important factor.  You can love pizza, college basketball, and your aunt Hilda (the one with the mole who always tries to kiss you on the lips).  And just because you love someone a LOT, that does not mean that they make you a better person, or that they will partner with you in your life’s calling, that they will be faithful to you, or that they don’t have tendencies or traits that will cause the relationship to be a disaster.  No, there are a lot of reasons to marry someone, and although I’d recommend that you love the person you are going to marry, it is simply NOT the #1 factor.  And here’s the thing… once you decide that you love someone, you’re going to have a very tough time being talked out of marrying them.  You won’t listen to your friends, your family or folks who speak into your life.  You’ll feel that either they, “Just don’t understand,” or “Our love can conquer all.”  When you think the relationship is going the direction of marriage, you simply MUST have folks in your life who can speak their mind about it, regardless of how tough that conversation may be—parents, mentors and very close friends MUST be allowed to weigh in.  They are not in love with your “perfect mate” and they will see clearly enough to tell you that this is a disaster waiting to happen.  They won’t have the massive blind spot that falling in love creates in your life.  Marriages fail for many reasons but some of them are at a huge disadvantage from the start because they were based on a syrupy view that “all you need is love.”  That could not be further from the truth. There are a dozen reasons to marry or not marry someone that count far more heavily than infatuation.  I have decided that I simply will not officiate a wedding if the best answer the couple can give me to the question “why do you want to get married” is “because we love each other.”

One quick story in response to Jim’s insightful thoughts.  I had a close friend who got engaged to a girl that his parents, siblings, 2 best friends and I didn’t think was the right person.  But he was smitten.  Somehow I was voted as the person to talk to him about this.  The danger:  he marries her anyway and remembers for the rest of his life that you tried to talk him out of it—that you “didn’t like her.”  This friend came to his senses and didn’t go through with it.  He is now happily married to someone who is the “right” person.

I will be taking June off from posting due to my work schedule.  Have a great month!



Can you love 2 people at once? Bachelorette Style.

Bachelor lauren and jojo

It’s baaaaaa-aaaaack!  The Bachelorette premiers this Monday night and with it the hopes and dreams of many people to find that special someone.  And I’m sure some weird occupations will rear their ugly head but will they beat Dog Lover, Donated tissue Specialist (carrying a cooler), Chicken Enthusiast, or Pantsapreneur?  Check out some funny lists over the years:  HERE, HERE, AND HERE.  There might not be a Bachelorette that has the vast and widespread support that JoJo does.  I think she found a special spot in America’s heart after being so horribly duped.  (How is Ben still America’s sweetheart?  He did a dastardly deed telling 2 women he loved them).

You know how the old proverb goes:

Hell hath no fury like a woman told on live TV in front of millions of people “I love someone more than you.” 

Bachelor Ben hugging lauren and jojo

Is this possible?  Can you love 2 people at once?  I wondered this when the trainwreck happened last season.  It was actually before the last episode.  The seeds of travesty were planted when Ben told 2 women he loved them.  Even if this were possible, it is the worst idea ever.  Worse ideas than the Blackberry, New Coke, Subprime mortgages and Blu-blockers put together!  So can you be in love with 2 people at once?

We need to define our terms.  What does the term people mean?  Just kidding, what does the term “love” really mean?

Is love a feeling, an action, a commitment, an ethereal romantic notion, or a farce?

Love is a choice.  It is not without feelings but it is bigger, deeper, and more profound.  It is a commitment.  And when we are talking about loving our spouse, it is reserved for one person.  Can you be “in love” with 2 people at once?  Yeah sure.  You can have strong feelings of attraction, chemistry, and desire with 2 people at the same time.  This is difficult to accomplish in real life because it is difficult to build up to these feelings with 2 people at the same time.  The Bachelor doesn’t just give it space, it encourages it.  The “out of sight, out of mind” mentality that each contestant needs to employ to make the reality show work allows the heart to focus on whoever is in front of it at that moment.  But this does not mean you can “love” (the verb) 2 people at once.

99% of arranged marriages do not end in divorce.  Over 50% of “free-will” marriages end in divorce.  How is this?  I would think it would be the opposite.  Of course a big factor is the culture that the marriage happens in, but even where divorce is permitted and the spouses feel like they have an alternative, the stay-together rate of arranged marriages smashes free-will by a long shot.  Proposal:  Let’s have arranged marriages in the U.S.  But who would get to arrange it?  Parents?  Most parents don’t like their kids’ spouse anyways.  No, in our hyper-individualistic society, this would never work.  I’m only mostly kidding.  One thing this shows is that you can choose to love someone.

Bachelor olivia come at me bro

So to recap:

Can you be “in love” with 2 people at once?  Yes.  Difficult but yes.

Can you “love” 2 people at once?  No.

Here’s why:

You can have feelings of love towards more than one person romantically.  If you’re talking about real love, then no.  Because love is an action.  You can say anything you want but love will be determined by your actions.  And you can’t love 2 people like that.  Because it is putting them first.  Before yourself.  Before anyone else (BAE).  That’s the very definition of love—having someone who is your highest priority.  How can you have 2 romantic interests both being your highest priority?  One will always be the one that you “love” as a verb.  If you try and love 2 people like that, it doesn’t work.  Reality has rules against it.  It implodes.  Your heart is torn in two.  (see last season of The Bachelor)  There is confusion, pain, brokenness, and devastation.

NEXT WEEK:   Can you fall in love with the wrong person?



captain america

Did I ever mention I love movies?  They are one of the most powerful means of communication.  Stories are king.  And movies with good stories usually do really well at the box office.  I wanted to apply a processing method called the 3-D view by a social media guru named Walt Mueller who you can find at

Discover, Discern, and Decide.  This week we will cover “Discover”.  Next week “Discern” and the rest of the method.

Here goes a review of Captain America:  Civil War.

captain america 3 half faces

PLOT RECAP:  This movie is very difficult to review without spoilers but I’ll do my best not to give away anything major.  A long movie but it didn’t drag.  The world decides that the Avengers are too powerful to operate on their own so they want to govern them by a commission.  The superheroes are faced with the dilemma: submit to a 117-country United Nations committee oversight or continue as an independent operation but outside (and in violation of) the law.  Some want to go with the UN, some want to continue calling the shots.  It is filled with lots of fun, new characters, funny one-liners and lots of great action.

Discover:  What did it say? (listing some themes or thoughts)

  1. Fight for what you believe in. Every character had convictions and acted on them.  Some in a surprising manner.  It was a challenge to figure out what’s right and what’s wrong.
  2. Vengeance.  It was encouraged as an acceptable option, for most of the movie.  There is a moment when it would seem to suggest that forgiveness is even more powerful than revenge, and more difficult.  “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” –Buddha
  3. There is a monster within each of us…the darkness within. We are all capable of very bad things.  Even really “good” characters did some really evil things.
  4. Loyalty. But loyalty to what?  Friends?  Principles?  Is Captain America loyal to a fault?  There were several changes in loyalty.  When Captain America went into his deep sleep everything was a lot clearer. Everything was black and white. Right and wrong. Good and evil.  Now the modern-day world is a lot more complicated–so many more “gray” areas.
  5. The tension of freedom (ability to do as we choose) vs. security (another entity “restricting” personal freedoms for the greater whole).
  6. Suspicion of any authority.  The resistance to trust important decisions to a higher authority.
  7. Loss of loved ones is devastating. All of the main characters had some type of loss of loved ones.  They all dealt with it in different ways, most trying to avenge (haha pun intended!) the loss.  But one of the most poignant moments in the movie is when someone decides to break the cycle.

Some great quotes:

“An empire that is destroyed by its enemies will rise again. But an empire that crumbles from within will never again stand.”  (very similar to Mark 3:25//Matthew 12:25 A house divided against itself cannot stand)

“We may not be perfect, but the safest hands are still our own.”

“Compromise where you can, but where you can’t, don’t.”

DECIDE what to do with it?  WATCH IT.  It’s a great way to kick off the summer with an action flick.  Light-hearted but a little dark, and discussion provoking.

FINAL RATING:  18.5 out of 20.  Excellent!

Who’s side would you be on?  Why?