What's in My Bag?

It’s spring in the Rockies and Snowmageddon has us stuck in Colorado when we should be on our way to Helsinki. With any luck, the storm will pass, the gorgeous Colorado sun will shine, the roads will clear, and we’ll be flying out of Denver tomorrow evening. On the plus side, the delay has given me time to pack and re-pack my bags. What does one pack for an Educational Tour of Finland in April? I don’t really know, but here are the top 10 items I assume will be necessities:

10. Eye mask. Our flight leaves on Sunday at 5:30p.m. from Denver and, with the time change, we arrive in Kefavik, Iceland at 6:30 a.m. on Monday morning. We then hop on another plane and arrive in Helsinki, Finland at 1:50 p.m. I’m determined to sleep to beat jet lag.

9. Comfortable boots. It’s going to rain practically every day we are in Finland and we are going to visit seven schools in five days. That’s a lot of walking through puddles!

8. Layers. Helsinki has a maritime continental climate which I think just means it’ll be humid and cold, but I don’t want that to stop me from touring the Turku Castle or visiting Helsinki’s Design District.

7. Pepto-Bismol. Finns eat reindeer, cheese for breakfast, and lots of smoked fish. I’ll try anything, but that tends to get me in trouble.

6. Swimsuit. There are more saunas in Finland than there are cars. While the Finns go au naturale, I’ll be the American in a swimsuit beating myself with a birch branch. (Yes, it’s a thing. Check it out here.)

5. Notebook. ECS principals and directors have asked Kelly and me to take note of over 50 look-fors on our tour. These look-fors span from what’s in school lunch to how students are identified for special services to parent involvement to the structure of a school day. I’ll be taking a lot of notes.

4. iPhone. I’ll be using mine to take photos and videos and to stay in touch with others on the tour. I’ll also be using it to check in with my family to make sure a steady diet of chicken nuggets and Oreos isn’t doing too much damage.

3. Computer. I’ll attempt to synthesize my learning at the end of each day and blog about what we are up to. The effectiveness of that communication depends on items number #10 and #7.

2. Adaptor. To charge items #4 and #3, and hopefully, prevent my hair straightening iron (same reason as item #8) from setting on fire.

1. Global-Ready Skills. OK, so these aren’t tangible, and technically, can’t be packed in my bag, but the most necessary things for me to utilize on my trip are: adaptability and agility, effective oral and written communication, curiosity and imagination, accessing and analyzing information, taking initiative, collaborating across networks, and critical thinking and problem solving. As the snow dumped down and our flights were canceled and reinstated and then canceled again this morning, Kelly and I were able to flex our global-ready skills and we look forward to bulking them up as our journey continues! 

I head down the hill in less than 24 hours, what haven’t I packed that you think I’ll need? (Remember: my bag can weigh a maximum of 50 pounds.)


Im glad you are packing sensibly!

While you plan on sleeping at 5:30 pm, I'm going the opposite route. No sleep till Helsiki! (Think Beastie Boys tune) which plan is best? Wagers anyone?

No sleep til Helsinki?

No way! Impossible! I will arrive rested and ready to go. Neck pillow and all!

Hi girls!

Hi girls! Sorry to hear your flight is delayed! I'm so excited for you both! Have a great trip!


Have a safe trip...should be very enlightening. Can't wait to hear all about it, especially how the reindeer tastes.

safe travels

Sorry to hear your trip was delayed at the start, but you will make up for lost time. You are sure to enjoy and embrace all the local culture and people have to offer. Nothing opens your eyes to the world like travel. Enjoy, enjoy!

Trip if a lifetime!!

I am so excited for you and your school for this amazing opportunity. I will be following you every step of the way. Warm hugs