Blog Life Travel

Travel Blog :: Preparations

November 18, 2013

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So, I’m about to graduate.  Just a few weeks.  And then I will pack up my apartment, give out all my hugs, and head out of the country.  This will be my first trip alone, and I’m hitting up as many countries as possible while gone.  A week in Paris (where else should a newly graduated art student go?), 6 weeks in Rwanda, 3 weeks in Uganda, 2 weeks in Alaska. Yes, I am perfectly aware that Alaska is not another country.  But it surely feels like one!  It’s like Colorado on steroids, and last time I was there, I felt like I needed my passport with me.

I’m excited.  And terrified.  Not because of danger or anything, just because I’m facing the unknown.  Who knows what will happen in these next months?

Why am I going to Africa?  It has been my goal, vision, and dream since before I ever started school to work as a “missionary photographer”.  It’s a term I might have made up for myself.  The vision was to come alongside ministries, missionaries, and nonprofits to tell their stories visually.  I want to help them communicate their hearts, and what it is they are pouring their lives into.  So, as graduation started becoming my reality, I decided that fulfilling this dream should also be a reality.  I will be working with several nonprofits and missionaries to do exactly this– be a visual storyteller to help their ministry along.

As for Alaska, I left a big piece of my heart there last summer when I stayed with the Wardell family.  I cannot wait to return and see my friends, Anna, Megan, Laura, Sarah & Eric and their children.  I’ll be working with the Tanalian Leadership Center, doing photography work of the same sort as in Africa.   I’m still trying to figure out how to pack my suitcase to go directly from winter in Paris to 75 degrees in Rwanda, to March in Alaska.  Suggestions?


Plane tickets have been purchased.  New suitcase arrived last week.  Shots are done (oh man, that tetanus shot hurt for 3 days!), passport renewed.  As the preparations continue, I will be sharing some practical tips on traveling.  Several months ago I stopped reading all the “mommy blogs”; why on earth was I reading them anyway?? And I started scouring the travel blogger community.  There is such a wealth of knowledge out there, on every subject from how to travel safely as a woman alone, to how to pack a carry on for a month abroad.  A few of my current favorites (and I’ll share more later) are Mr. and Mrs. Globetrot, YTravelBlog, and  Adventurous Kate.

I am beyond excited, and I invite you to join me on this journey.  Any advice, encouragement, or even warnings you have will be welcome.  And if you think of it, say a prayer for my mother.  I guess it doesn’t matter how old your baby gets, when she goes to Africa it brings anxiety.

And as a parting piece, here is the song that has become my mantra in these past few months of planning.  Needtobreathe, one of my very favorite bands:


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  • Reply Becky Gray November 24, 2013 at 1:46 pm


    I’m so glad you are able to take some time to pursue this dream and hopefully make it a reality somehow in the future. I’m not sure if you knew this but I traveled for 12 months from July 2005-July 2006. I visited 15 countries in Europe and Asia with 7 months being outside of the US. Here’s my few words of advise….likely things you have already heard or read, but good to hear again.
    1. Pack light. It is hard to do, but look over your items and think long and hard about wanting them for 3 months. Only bring the items you know you will need. You can always buy things as you go – and you will. I brought heavy Chacos and regretted it on my 2nd week of hiking through the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland.
    2. Try to blend in. It is hard to pack for such different locations, but maybe you can have a box sent to you in Alaska of all your fluffy down items so you won’t have to carry them in Africa.
    3. Bring a clothes line. I washed many of my items in the sink on the road. Synthetic was great for outerwear because it dries faster….but cotton is always the best way to go for for underwear. You will likely throw the few pairs you bring away when you return 🙂
    4. Bring a few small and light good books and a small Bible. Don’t be afraid to leave these books once you are done. Carrying them your whole trip will seem silly. My books were specifically set in the areas I traveled.
    5. Ciprofloxacin – will be your best friend if you have any trouble with food or water born illnesses.
    6. Go back to your favorite places – eat the same foods if you like. You may never return and when you find something you like – do it again 🙂 We visited the same tea house in Prague 3 days in a row and the same restaurant on the sea in Positano every day the entire week we were there. I don’t know if I will ever taste fresh orange juice like we had there -but having that memory is priceless.

    That is enough for now. Happy packing and many prayers for you and your sweet mom.

    • Reply Kathryn November 26, 2013 at 6:12 am

      Thank you so much for this, Becky! Best travel advice so far! I did not know that you had done so much traveling, I would love to hear some of your stories when I am up in the mountains over Christmas.

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