As talk of the Winter Games picks up, and travel stories abound, I couldn’t help but reflect on the items I find as must-haves for international travel. I’m not talking about the basics like clothes and toothpaste, I’m talking about those things that make the list because you’d be hampered without them. And since I just packed for 25 days in Russia, I thought I’d share my list for Sochi. While this is not like a David Letterman Top 10, some of them may surprise you.
Here are 10 things I absolutely could not do without on this trip … in no specific order.
1. On-The-Go Charger:
This bad boy has two full iPhone charges in it, and since I have no idea where I’ll be or when (and getting a glimpse of my kids is a priority), this is essential for me to feel connected.
2. Waterproof Footwear:
For me, I have to have my Wellies. They’re large and hard to pack, but they always end up making the list. There’s nothing worse than traveling around all day with wet feet and pants. Between the construction and the rain here in Sochi, I was told these boots were a MUST. Thank goodness I bought them for London. Nice to see two Games working together wardrobe-wise.
3. Snacks That Pack A Punch:
Pistachios and Kind Bars are my go-to protein snacks. If there is one thing I know for sure after nine Games, meals are often an afterthought. Life gets CRAZY when trying to take in all the action while traveling, or reporting about it, or competing in it. So I have learned to keep a meal in my bag. If you don’t, you either go hungry or eat junk.
4. Adapters and Converters:
Power outlets and connections are always an issue. My mom gave me an awesome Belkin charger/surge protector for Christmas, which allows me to charge three items with plugs and three with USB ports. And trust me, since the U.S. has lower voltage than most of the rest of the world, never leave home without a converter and adapter when international travel is in the cards. With all the technology we need at our fingertips, these items need to work and be fool proof.
5. Water Bottle:
Hydration is important, and you never know how much a bottle of water is going to cost, especially at events. My understanding is that NO liquids are allowed in the park that aren’t purchased inside, so this Right To Play travel bottle should help me out quite a bit, keeping me hydrated, and reducing cost and waste at the same time.
6. Documents Pouch:
When traveling, you should keep your important documents on your person, and in a place that is safe and water resistant. Here in Sochi, despite being credentialed 5-ways to Sunday, we also have to wear our passports at ALL TIMES. These pouches are thin and fit easily underneath your clothing, so me and this little baby are gonna get close for the next 21 days. I might even sleep with it. Mama’s gotta be able to get home:)
Something for your hands can be a lifesaver traveling to and from transportation or sitting through events. For me on this trip, those are my “Go USA” Team USA Mittens. I know I can’t technically cheer, but I have to show my support. Besides it’s quite cold! I’ll just be sure to hide the palms when needed.
8. Portable Hygiene Kit:
Yep, I went shopping in the baby section again … this time for myself. I don’t like leaving the toilets situation to chance, so I have my trusty wipes. My kids think this is hilarious, yet I find being without tissues or toilet paper while traveling terrifying. Plus, they handle other needs as well like dirty hands and sticky surfaces. I also like to keep tissues and a little tub of vaseline. That pretty much covers everything else you might need from a runny nose to chapped lips or dry skin.
9. Family Photos:
The pictures that bring me happiness are so important when I’m working on the road. When I was competing, I had my Michael Jordan posters. Now, both joy and inspiration come in the form of three smiling faces — my husband, daughter and son — whom I miss terribly when I’m away. So I’m always sure to carry them with me and spread their faces all over my binder and hotel room.
Long days, short nights, lack of sleep, stress, and non-stop activities or work days can all really take their toll. I’m not a doctor and I have no idea if it is scientifically proven, but if you believe it, it’s worth it. One little packet a day and a large glass of water will be my immune fighting cure all.