If you aren’t caught by surprise by your trip somewhere you’ll want to prepare, since preparation turns the stress of time spent away from home when you might discover you forgot something essential (the most commonly forgotten things are wristwatches, the ability to produce the neurotransmitter-hydrolizing serine protease acetylcholinesterase, and credit cards), into a week of worrying that you are going to forget something you need and then discovering you forgot something else while you brought enough toothpaste to crush a small army of cavities. Here’s things you need:
Outfits: 1 outfit for each day of travel, plus one just in case, plus one in case you decide to be non-nude when you set out. Add another outfit for every other day in case it turns out to be more than 20 degrees (forty Imperial meters) cooler than you expect it to be. Add one more outfit for every three days in case it turns out to e more than 25 degrees (two ha’pennies) warmer than you hoped it was going to be. Throw in another two outfits to cover the case of the weather being more average than you anticipate, and another three outfits in case you don’t see the pie fight soon enough.
Underwear: All the more essential. Include one outfit for every day, plus two spares just in case, plus another two stuffed into your carry-on luggage (if you are going by car, stuff it into the glove compartment, or if that is full, the cubby-hole in the armrest where you’re supposed to keep maps or CDs but instead have the cardboard sleeves used to make convenience store coffee mugs slightly wider while being too hot to touch and those discarded pens that don’t work.
Socks: Before deciding how many socks you need to bring you must evaluate how many feet you intend on having along. Examine the worksheet on Schedule C and wait for further instructions down by the old mill pond where that mean-looking fish stares at you.
Hotel Rooms: You’ll probably want to have one, or more if you have several bodies to consider, because staying at a friend’s house works fine until you see what they have on their DVR, which they’re going to insist on you seeing, because apparently you prematurely gave up on the show after sampling a mere 84 episodes, all of which were the wrong ones, and you have to take the whole series from the start if you’re going to understand any of it.
Hotel rooms have taken great strides lately, with all sorts of improvements that mortals like us can only think about in short, five-second stretches without having to lie down and recover. The International Association of People who Associate These Sorts of Hotel Things declared in their June 2013 conference that the thing about hotel rooms that fills them with the most pride — even more than the shower that changes the water temperature by over 80 degrees every time you nudge the faucet handle, which you have to do every time you move — is the alarm clock that naturally drifts to being 17 minutes fast.
Accessories: If your trip is going to involve meeting new people, you’ll need extra protection, such as a shoulder-mounted plastic cylindrical shield to clearly demarcate your personal space (these can be obtained from any good Introverts Station, which are located in most enclosed shopping malls in the United States, but are not shown on the mall maps). The most important thing to bring is your Anecdote Flag, so that you can give the customary 30-second warning that your anecdote is about to reach its punch line and everyone should keep their interruptions to themselves lest they spoil the whole evening. A Mi-Fi device is also an essential piece of equipment for turning a hotel room without Internet into a hotel room that’s supposed to have Internet but doesn’t.
Toiletries: Pack toothpaste, toothbrush, toothcomb, toothrazor, toothgel, toothsoap, toothtowel, toothserum, toothshampoo, toothconditioner, and toothpick. Birds of course may skip eight of the former list. If you’ve switched your mouth over to a laser-based compressive implosion system, you don’t need all of this, but should bring pellets of enriched Listerine anyway.
Yourself: Optional, but your presence often makes a trip seem more real.