The Blog of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

December 20, 2012

Your Unofficial Urbana Packing List

Drew Larson

The most important thing to know about packing for a trip is that you are attempting to outsmart the future version of you.

For example, as you pack, Future You is in your head, feeding Present You ridiculous deception like, “There is no way you will need more than one yo-yo!” and “The conference will probably provide you with free soaps and deodorant.”

Trust me on this one: Future You has no idea what he is talking about. It is your job to outwit him so that, when Future You (three weeks from now) decides that he could totally go for some trail mix, he will reach in his bag and actually find some—at which point, thanks to the miracle of quantum physics, he will high-five Present You (now Past You) and thank him for being so smart. This is called “using the space-time continuum,” and it is what Stephen Hawking does when he needs a turkey sandwich. (Are you experiencing an uncontrollable urge to watch Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure right now? That’s perfectly normal.)

The Urbana 12 Student Missions Conference is happening in the city of St. Louis, Missouri, in seven days. If you don’t know, St. Louis is great town. It’s the home of the St. Louis Arch, a place I have fond memories of visiting during my fifth grade class trip. Our teachers told us that the sides of the tram that carries people to the top were lined with mercury, and if we touched them the tram would stop, stranding us high above the ground forever. At the time, I believed them. Looking back, this was the most scandalous and effective lie ever told to get fifth graders to sit still.

Some of us at InterVarsity are already in St. Louis starting the set-up for Urbana. Many more of us will head down on Christmas Day to continue preparations. We are highly confident that at least some of the 16,000 people coming to Urbana will, like most of us, arrive from outside the St. Louis metropolitan area. The English word for this is traveling, and unless you have secured one of the teleporters from Star Trek or are Nightcrawler from the X-Men, this means only one thing: road trip.

What you decide to pack will make or break both your travel and your Urbana 12 experiences. In the interest of not leaving anything up to chance, we offer you the following short list of suggested necessities.

Another person. There is, of course, something to be said for the solo road trip. But bring a friend or two along with you for the ride (and for the conference—they can still register!).

Clothes. To quote the late Mark Twain, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.” This goes for Urbana as well. (Also, St. Louis can be really cold.)

Notebook. Not sure if you’ve heard, but Urbana will be awesome—five days of wall-to-wall great teaching, incredible worship, and missions insights from global leaders. It might be wise to have something to write down thoughts, ideas, contact info, etc., as you go. Is Future You saying, “Come on, there won’t be anything that important to remember”? Clock that fool in the mouth. And bring a pen too. A notebook with no pen is like a Death Star with no exploitable weakness.

Camouflage Bible. There are no plans currently for any wilderness component to Urbana 12. However, it’s always better to be prepared. Leave the crossbow at home, though. We do promise that you will not have to hunt for your food.

Ugly Sweater. For the World’s Largest Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, of course!

Iron/Alarm ClockIt’s an alarm clock! It’s a clothing iron! It’s an AM/FM radio! It’s probably dangerous!

Ultimate Road Trip Playlist. Everyone knows that the best part of a road trip is putting together the soundtrack for it. In the olden days, you were limited to 20 songs per a CD, which is like asking Van Gogh to paint with just primary colors. Thanks to modern inventions like Grooveshark, your Road Trip Playlist is as big as your imagination, or your music collection. The one requirement is that it must contain either “I Would Do Anything for Love” by Meat Loaf, or a song that sounds similar. Non-negotiable. You will be asked about this when you check in at Urbana.  

Earplugs. 80 percent of people have some kind of deviated septum. 6.6 percent of Americans have sleep apnea. 47 percent of your friends want to sing in the car while you’re trying to sleep. 100 percent of you want to bring earplugs, just in case.

Those are a few of our suggestions, but a more official Urbana 12 packing list is available for those of you who want a little more direction.

What else would you bring?

Drew Larson serves on the editorial and development team at InterVarsity.

You might also be interested in other posts by Drew:

Who's at Your Table?

How Tracy Chapman Paid for Her Second Ferrari: Fundraising Tips for Urbana (There's still time!)

The Mystery of Nations


That was a fun read, thanks!
"Is Future You saying, “Come on, there won’t be anything that important to remember”? Clock that fool in the mouth." I keep waking up with bruises I can't explain. Now I know where they come from. Past Me.

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