8 Tips for Successful Last-Minute Packing

8 Tips for Successful Last-Minute Packing

Forgot you needed to pack for a trip? We got your back!
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When you're juggling with school, work, and social events, time just flies by. The next thing you know, you're going away for a few days! Here's what you should do when you're packing at the last minute:

1. Check the weather

It's important to check the weather first. This will show you what you need to pack and be prepared for.

2. Make a list of items to bring

Break down your packing list to the following categories: clothes, electronics, food, personal care, essentials. Then, bullet point the items you need. And then only when you put the item in your bag do you then delete the item on the list, because if you're forgetful like me, you will realize you forgot to pack socks for winter break and have to buy new ones from 3 towns over.

3. Don't overpack

People usually do this wherever they go. An easy solution is packing the essential clothing you need first, e.g. raincoat, comfy sleepwear, etc. Then, you can pick some of your favorite outfits and choose between them. You don't need 5 dresses for a 2-day trip. Think about what you will actually wear.

4. Overpack

"Wait, but you just said don't do it."

Yes, BUT there are some items you need extras of, such as socks and tops. You never know how many pairs of socks you need. They could get wet from the rain or you might need to wear multiple pairs if it's cold where you're going. As for tops, they could be covered in sweat or have food stains or you could spill something on it. Either way, you will not want to stay in those all day, which is why extras come in handy. That's not to say pack twenty shirts for a 5-day trip. Being realistic is important here.

5. Rolling is key

Personally, I have never tried this, but some people swear by it. They advise packers to role their clothes to save luggage space and reduce wrinkles. You can also attempt what this insanely skilled guy did.

6. Comfortable footwear

This will make or break your trip, especially if you're going to be walking around a lot. Also, you need something comfortable to stay on your feet while you're riding the bus or on the plane. You may think it's silly because you're not walking, but it's like choosing a blanket made out of fur or sandpaper. You're not going to be moving, but you still want something comfortable to hug your feet.

7. Carry-on is necessary

That may not be the case when you're flying (because some airline companies charge for carry-on's), but having a bag on you when you're in a vehicle is great, because you can pack the essential things you need to keep you happy, entertained, and comfortable.

Be aware that some buses and planes get really cold, so you'll want to bring a flannel or a sweatshirt with you. Also, some people like to have their electronics and chargers on them so the items don't get lost and are accessible. However, it's not ideal when you have a phone, an iPad, and a laptop to account for. It's best to just have a bag with you to keep all your items in one place.

8. Entertainment

That leads us to the next thing: if you're traveling for a long time, you need entertainment. Bring a book, a laptop with downloaded movies, or music and games. You can also talk to the person sitting next to you and make a new friend.

Bon voyage!

Cover Image Credit: Fodors

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.
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After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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Snow Hinton Park Is A Blast, If You Can Get Over Your Fear Of Heights

Sometimes you need a little adventure to spice up your day, which led my friends and me to take a quick side trip to Snow Hinton to tackle the giant rope course. Here's a recap of our experience.

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Last week, my friends and I decided to take a quick trip to Snow Hinton Park. "What's Snow Hinton Park?" you might be saying, "I've never heard of that park before!" I bet you at least know what it's known for. Have you ever seen the mountainous, red climbing structure along McFarland that seems to be plaguing people's snap stories? Well, Snow Hinton is where to find it!

My friends — Sydney, Alexis, Eva and Jacob — and I just finished eating lunch, and, on our way to Walmart, we saw the iconic structure, and Sydney interjected that we should take a quick stop there. As I've never been before, either, I agreed, and we took a sharp left towards the park instead of continuing straight down McFarland. As we walked towards the ropes, Jacob and Eva, who'd been there before, started to back off; they weren't up for the challenge a second time.

Syd and Alexis walked towards the structure as I took off running. As soon as I reached the structure, I reached for the highest rope I could, did a pullover, and hung upside down, my hair a couple feet from touching the ground. Sydney and Alexis took a more cautious approach, starting from the ground up, and carefully planning each step, as I scaled the structure with ease, tearing up the red rope with each step. I got to the top in less than five minutes, doing acrobatic moves while holding onto the ropes along the way. I was being so extra, that Syd shouted at me, "Stop it! I don't want to have to get a new roommate this semester!"

Once I finally reached the top, I felt like a king, towering over two stories above Tuscaloosa. I waved down at Syd and Alexis, as they finally got halfway up the ropes. Going down the giant, silver spiral slide was one of the most satisfying things in the world, sealing the fact that I made it to the top of the mountain; a fun reward for a slightly terrifying journey. As Sydney and Alexis were almost to the top, I scaled it again and encouraged them to continue climbing. Once we were all were finally at the top, we waved to Jacob and Eva, who were seated on a bench nearby, to signify our success. We wrapped it up by going down the slide, but I guess Sydney wanted to leave a piece of herself on the mountain because she managed to lose her phone before she hit the ground at the bottom.

I'm glad I finally got to experience the rope tower at Snow Hinton, as it's really fun if you're athletic or looking for a challenge, especially when you have friends to conquer it with you. While the height of it may seem scary, getting to the top is satisfying because, you did it, you managed to get past a possible fear of heights (or fear of falling, in my case), and are at the top of the world, or the top of Tuscaloosa, at least.

Me casually flipping upside down about 15 feet off the groundAlexis Whitfield

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