I’m in the process of procrastinating.
I’m actually supposed to be packing right now — I’m leaving for my third conference and speaking opportunity in as many weeks, and I’m starting to get a little numb from all the travel. I’m traveling so often, TSA practically waves me through security, thinking I’m an airport employee. Flight attendants are starting to greet me by name. Airport parking attendants ask, “your usual parking spot, Karen?”
I exaggerate. But not by much.
Friends of mine who don’t travel often sometimes wistfully ask about my traveling life, thinking that it must be full of adventure and intrigue I suppose; however, those of us who travel a lot in our jobs know that it can actually be a draining experience. That said, I’ve developed a few tricks to make even my business travel as calm as possible. And so, today, I’ll share with you some of my favourite travel companions and tricks that help make being away from home a really calming experience, on you can be grateful for.
What to bring:
Whenever I travel, I have a few must-pack items that I take with me on every trip, that help keep me centered and healthy:
1. Halls Defense Vitamin C Drops. I live in fear of getting ill (because nothing is worse than being sick when you have a young child, am I right?), and sitting in a pressurized tin can with recycled air hurtling through the sky at hundreds of fear-inducing miles per hour seems like a great way to do it. So I found these awesome Vitamin C drops that taste like sweets (as opposed to some of those other preventative mixes or drinks that don’t taste very good). I always throw a bag or two of these in my handbag, and eat them like candy while I’m traveling — literally as often as I would a breath mint. I’ve also been known to hand them out at conferences to other people who are also traveling. I figure it can’t hurt, and, knock wood, I haven’t caught a cold from a trip in a while.
2. A baggie full of my favourite tea bags. I’m not sure when I started carrying tea bags with me on flights, but it’s one of my favourite ideas I’ve ever had. The thing is, I’ve never had a decent cup of coffee (or tea, for that matter) on a flight, but flights always have hot water, and thankfully, it’s hard to screw up hot water. So I with the cup of hot water kindly provided to me by the flight attendant, I make my tea exactly as I like. Because the bags aren’t liquid, there’s no problem getting them on the plane; and then, once I get to my destination, it’s a great way to wind down at the end of the day — I just go to the front desk of my hotel and get a pot of hot water (and most hotels feel guilty about charging you for hot water, so it’s usually free). Similarly, I take tea bags with me to conferences, so that I can just get a cup of hot water and take it with me into the conference room.
3. Mini-speakers for my iPhone. The speakers you see in the imagewere a gift from AOL (part of the swag from some conference or another), and they’re great for turning your hotel room into a particularly peaceful place when you plug them into your mp3 player or iPhone (with a pre-established playlist of calming music, of course). These gift speakers aren’t working all that well anymore (which is to be expected from a freebie), so I’ve since purchased these really inexpensive ones, which work fine. (If you don’t have speakers, ask room service to send up a small bowl — Schmutzie tells me that this works well to amplify your mp3 player just as well).
4. A small vial of essential oil. I love sprinkling lavender oil on the hotel bedlinens before I sleep — it’s really calming, like sleeping in a spa. I usually get this one — a light, beautiful scent, and I can’t wait to use it on this trip. (And for those of you who are men, or who would prefer something less girly than lavender or rose, might I suggest sandalwood — a far more masculine scent, but equally calming.)
5. Tea lights. Because nothing makes hotel rooms feel more calm like candlelight. And if you’re nervous about having an open flame in the hotel room, get these battery-operated ones — place in a glass, and you might even forget the flame is fake.
6. A good book. The one good thing about air travel is that you’re a captive audience — no one can interrupt you with an annoying phone call. What better opportunity to catch up on reading? I read voraciously when I travel, and love to end my evenings in my hotel room, getting buried in some really great writing. In fact, if you’re traveling anytime soon, I strongly recommend this book (but fair warning: Jenny Lawson is hysterically funny, so it is not just possible, but probable, that you will embarrass yourself by snorting in public).
7. My journal and favourite pens. I journal every day, and the way I journal calms me. It’s good to have my journal with me on long, boring flights; but I also try to keep journaling while I’m at the hotel as well, to give me some continuity with my routine at home.
8. A rosary. Because this Catholic girl hates to fly.
What I do:
1. Schedule down time. It can be really difficult to schedule quiet time when you’re traveling (for work, or for pleasure, for that matter), but I make it a must: I always make sure that I schedule at least 1 hour of doing absolutely nothing. I may use the time to nap, or meditate, or frankly, even just sit and stare into space. But no matter what, I set the time — complete with an alarm on my iPhone — to go relax.
2. Take advantage of room service. I know room service is exorbitant (seriously, do they make those meals out of gold dust?), but if I can swing it, at some point on my travels, I usually have breakfast in my room. It’s a nice way to leisurely get ready for the day, without feeling too rushed.
3. Skype. Because nothing cheers me up like seeing my husband and daughter while I travel.
So how about you — do you have any Attitude-of-Gratitude Travel Tips? Leave them in the comments below. And for those of you about to fly — godspeed, friends. May you have a wonderful trip!
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