By Joe Smith Stress, my unwanted companion. As a procrastinator I have let things build up over the past few weeks until it came down to the line during this last week. The stress then seemed to mount up as I had to write five papers in less than a four-day period. Quite the way to end my senior year, but at least it is now all behind me. Now that school is out of the way I can focus on the upcoming task, shopping for tour. As tour rapidly approaches I'm realizing just how little time I have to go shopping. I always seem to have mixed emotions about shopping, maybe it's because I'm not sure exactly what I want to get. One very large thing to consider when you're out shopping for tour is your suitcase. Just how much do you want to carry? Wheels are nice but won't always be the way to lug your suitcase from bus to the gym. Plus, schools probably wouldn't appreciate your dragging your suitcase across their expensive gym floors. Also, consider your fellow corpsmates because they will be the ones loading your luggage all summer, and do you really want to hurt their backs? After dealing with my large suitcase last summer I have decided that it may be time to move to more of an economical-sized suitcase. I also found last summer that I had overpacked quite a bit. The necessities for tour that I have found are white shirts and socks, and it seems like there is a troll living in my dresser that likes to eat these items because they have all disappeared since I returned home in August. So this week I must find the time to make a list of what is needed. One thing last year that I forgot to pack is a rain parka of some sort. I became sick during our everydays because of the amounts of rain we received and the raincoat that my suitcase was lacking.

In my opinion there are two major must-haves for anyone going on tour, and one of these two items is sunscreen. As I learned multiple times last season throughout the camps and first part of tour, sunscreen is a must have for everyone. There would be multiple days where I would look like a lobster because I had neglected to touch sunscreen. In this department I suggest spending the few extra dollars to buy Bullfrog SPF 36. They even make it available with a spray applicator that makes life easier for those of us in the corps that have to wear gloves.

The other item that is a must is the oh-so-holy water bottle. I believe most corps suggest at least a half gallon, but some members might need larger because there are those that drink like camels. Dehydration is truly not fun and can easily be prevented as long as you drink plenty of fluids both on and off the field. My only suggestion is stay away from the water that doesn't look half way transparent.

Luxuries are always nice on tour. Make sure you check your corps policies on this first, though, because many corps have different standards as to what is acceptable and what is not. Non-show music seems to be something that many people find to be a must on tour. Many seem to like to bring CD players on tour with multitudes of CDs. I will be testing my luck this summer with a mini-disc player to see how well that holds up compared to a normal CD player. Be careful as to what and how much you bring with you, because there is always the chance of things disappearing. One way members find to remember home is to put pictures of family and friends in the windows of the buses. They not only serve as your mental connection to home but they also decorate the bus quite nicely with the other pieces of art that people seem to enjoy hanging up in the windows of the bus.

While traveling on the bus, the only way to solve that post-midnight snack is by munching on some good ol' fashioned bus food. What each member brings depends on their tastes and opinions, but I personally find Cheez-Its and animal crackers to be quite delicious. Some members even find it fun and amusing to leave bags of gummy bears/worms out to soak up the sun, and then afterwards with a plastic knife they can cut into the delectable gummy blob to have a portion of the mess that used to be a molded piece of art. I have merely scraped the surface of the iceberg with ideas and suggestions as you prepare for tour. If you're still having problems deciding what to bring on tour contact your friendly section leader or veteran of the corps, and I'm sure that they would be willing to help. As you prepare and head off for tour I wish you luck in all of your endeavors.