My countdown to Kili is now measured in hours – it’s hard to believe I’ll be in Tanzania tomorrow! I’m feeling strong and confident in my training, which I’ve recently tapered down in order to give my muscles a rest. In the past week, I have been focused on wrapping up conversations with guests, gathering tips from my colleagues, running last-minute errands and packing my duffle.

Staff member Rachel packs for her Kilimanjaro trek with Thomson Safaris

The thought of packing overwhelmed me at first; I wanted to make sure I had the appropriate gear and was prepared for any kind of weather Kilimanjaro might serve up. Once I started though, it was a lot easier than I thought. Not to toot our own horn but the packing list in the Kilimanjaro Preparation Guide was straightforward, easy to use and was a great tool for me. Amongst other things, it helped me to organize the gear I already had and figure out what I still needed to get, like a few more pairs of socks and a sturdy pair of thermals.

My predeparture specialist and my colleagues who have climbed Kilimanjaro have been great resources for information and support. Here are a few key pieces of advice I collected from them:

• Bring lots of plastic bags, or stuff sacks, to keep items separated/organized, like wet or dirty clothes

• Pack your clothes in a garbage bag (within your duffle) for extra protection from wet weather

• Clean socks each day is a luxury not to be missed!

• Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! (I think all of my colleagues advised me to drink a ton of water.) If you tire of water easily, bring flavored powders with electrolytes or bouillon cubes for a savory flavor.

• Don’t forget the sunscreen! It’s hard to believe you can get sunburn while trekking in the snow and glaciers but the equatorial sun is strong!

• Above all, don’t let the particulars of gear, packing, missing work – anything – get in the way of enjoying the climb! Enjoy the mountain, take it all in and don’t worry about details!

Now that all the preparation is out of the way, I’m in the pure excitement zone. I’ve got my boots on, backpack and duffle packed, plane tickets and passport in hand, and I’m ready to hit the trail! Wish me luck!