So for our spring Olympics class, I put together a presentation on how to pack for a long trip abroad–mostly from the perspective of being a terrible, terrible packer. You know, someone who doesn’t break their new shoes in ahead of time, grossly overestimates their upper-body strength and dresses entirely inappropriately for the weather. (I also get sick on all forms of moving transportation. I should hate traveling! And yet I adore it.)

Learn from my mistakes!

1.) On a three-week trip to Italy once, I insisted on wearing a lovely pair of black leather boots, which not only gave me bleeding blisters but also disintegrated off my feet in the Venice rain. I then bought a replacement pair on the road that, while beautiful and costing as much as my first car, caused me to come home and make multiple visits to a podiatrist. And I was in my early 20s.

So just wear sneakers. Everyone wears sneakers now, even stylish Europeans. I mean, not big white gym-shoe sneakers, and not those beautiful European women you’ll see tottering through historic ruins on their stilettos. But your feet will feel better than theirs. Trust me on this.

2.) A few years ago, because I fear boredom and like related reading material, I traveled around the entire country of Ireland with the complete works of William Butler Yeats, the complete works of Lady Gregory, the complete works of James Joyce and a stack of Eyewitness Travel books that weighed approximately 17 pounds each. Strangers had to help me get my travel tote into the overhead. And I read a total of about four pages.

But this summer I will be taking my new Kindle, which not only can hold the entirety of English literature (and even some travel books) but weighs nothing and only costs 80 bucks. So if I lose it, I don’t have to cry. At least not much.

3.) The last time I went to the UK, in summer 2010, I had a 2-year-old with me and didn’t even attempt to pack light. That’s how I ended up claiming a black duffel bag filled with diapers, table salt, shampoo, hand sanitizer, peanut-butter crackers, socks, plastic bags and microwave popcorn at the Birmingham airport. Which is totally something you want to deal with after you fly eight hours with a 2-year-old.

News flash: They sell things in Europe! You can get toothpaste and nail clippers there! You are not going on a trek to the undiscovered North Pole. So buy stuff there. And the packages will be different and it won’t cost much more and it will be fun.

Remind me of all this next week when I start packing.

Colleen Steffen l Features Editor