Packing for a wartime vacation

Published 11:06 am Monday, March 24, 2003

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP – Managing Editor
As my wife and I prepared for our first vacation as parents we learned that getting ready for a long trip now is much different than it was two years ago. Along with the extra baby riding in the back seat, we also found that the trunk fills up very quickly. Between diaper bags, a stroller and other necessities, we are fortunate to have enough room for one suitcase which the two adults must share.
But, there are some things that you simply cannot leave at home. Sometimes, you just have to find more room. This is especially true at this particular time when it seems that we could be at war at any moment. To stay in touch and to remain safe there are some things that must be taken.
– Handheld radio. On vacation, you never know where you will end up. In order to stay in touch with the latest diplomatic maneuverings at the United Nations you will need a radio and backup batteries. If you plan on getting really involved and tune in until the situation is resolved diplomatically, you will probably need to get some rechargeables.
– Detailed atlas. While most people always take a map outlining highways and interstates to take, it may be necessary to take something with more detail with war looming. For example, you may want to avoid extra long bridges, national landmarks and tall buildings. It may take a little longer to get where you're going, but it could be worth it.
– Proper attire. While our troops wear camouflage to protect them from the enemy, vacationers also have to consider their wardrobe before packing. For instance, as I am traveling to Texas, I am fairly safe with my "Target Saddam" T-shirt. However, if you were going to California, you may need to take your "Give Peace A Chance" shirt. Or, if you were going to New York, you may need the hybrid "Target Saddam on front, Give Peace a Chance on back" shirt. You can never underestimate the importance of mixing in with the locals -- "Doing as the Romans Do" so to speak.
– Gas mask. Actually, this has nothing to do with war or Iraq's chemical weapons capabilities, but rather some of the attacks coming from our own back seat. Unfortunately, many new parents had to learn this lesson the hard way.
– Duct tape and plastic. You can never have enough of this stuff on your person at all times. At this time in history you must be prepared to protect your family at a moments notice. Who knows, you may have to quarantine your family at a Holiday Inn or in a rest area bathroom stall. While the plastic and duct tape may not be enough to actually protect you from a chemical attack, it's definitely worth a shot.
On a more serious note, it does seem that war is upon us. Our own neighbors and relatives have been called up and are on their way to help protect America. Others are already there. As a nation, we have a lot of praying to do -- not only for our own soldiers, but also for the innocent who may be placed in harm's way.
Our leaders tell us that diplomacy has failed. That is unfortunate. But, those leaders have a responsibility to protect America and other nations of democracy.
We are sure to hear from those around the world in the days and weeks to come who feel that America is warmongers and acting unjustly. But, when the war is over and the dust has cleared, Iraqis will have a chance to obtain freedom and the Middle East will have one less expansionist dictator blocking the road to peace.

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