Phragments from Phyllis: World travel and concerns at home

By the time you read this I will have begun my holiday in the Dominican Republic with my friend, Susan, who is there in her fifth year of teaching at Garden Kids International School.

It has been interesting getting ready. I didn't realize just how much I had given over to my husband on our trip to Italy until I began to think about all the things I need to worry about as I travel abroad alone for the first time.

It's now old hat for Susan - after making the trip at least twice a year for these five years, but in my case packing was the least of it. I will say that packing had its own set of concerns. These days you have to limit your luggage to the extreme, so I am traveling with one large suitcase, a carry-on and an oversized purse. That may sound like plenty of space; however, I'm also transporting several gifts for Susan from Christmas, including a rather bulky Keurig. There wasn't much room in the large suitcase for my clothes. I have made it work, though.

But the real challenge is mental. You begin to worry about those questions that aren't likely, but that begin to invade your mind as the unknown gets closer: What if I fall asleep at Liz's and don't get to the airport on time? I have to be in Charlotte around 4 a.m. for a 5:30 flight, and the drive from Liz's house is about 1 and a half hours.

What if my passport is stolen? Yes, I have a copy. Yes, I've registered my trip with the State Department (which, by the way, lists the only advisory in the DR as the threat of cyclones).

What if my purse is stolen with my credit cards, ID, etc.? What if my luggage gets lost or delayed with my clothes, medications, etc. inside? Obviously, I can replace the clothes, but I would likely be without meds for the week - although Susan has said you can buy most anything over the counter in the DR, things that would require a prescription in the U.S.What if I get stopped in customs? What if I don't fill out the customs declaration properly? I had to do this in Italy, but Tom was standing there telling me what to do. As a result, I have no recollection of what's required.

Why is a $10 fee required to get in and out of the country? You re told to be sure to have $10 to get into the country and another $10 to get out.

What if no one speaks English? It's amazing that so many Americans assume everyone will speak English. I'm not so confident.

And the list goes on.

Once I'm there, and Susan has met me at the airport, I'll be fine. But she said she will have to wait for me outside the airport, and all those details of entering the country I will have to face alone. I am definitely nervous.

Meanwhile, Tom will take over as "manny" while I'm gone, so Cade and Payton will be in good hands.

My only real concern is that Payton has been sick. I took her to the doctor Monday to be sure it wasn't strep throat. It wasn't. The doctor said it was viral, but she spent all day Monday throwing up. As a result, I fear she may have shared just in time for my trip. I may end up taking advantage of the loose regulations with prescription drugs in the DR. And maybe while I'm at it, I may have to check out the possibility of getting some Xanax for my other concerns.

It couldn't hurt, right?