I'm a woman of ritual. Whether it's my morning or evening meditation, a daily smoothie, or a luxurious self-massage using healing oils, these acts of self-care help encourage a personal homeostasis and an overall sense of wellness.
However, I tend to travel a lot - for fun, work, and family visits. While many trips are great times to escape your daily space and mindset, there's also something to be said about coming home feeling like you need another vacation to recuperate. With a large percentage of my time spent living out of a suitcase for work, I've worked hard to maintain a general sense of my home balance while on the road.
After returning from her own recent trip out west, my sister-in-law requested that I share some of my tips for traveling well. Below you'll find some thoughts on how I prepare for weekly trips and manage life as a road warrior. While some ideas may seem a bit obvious, by creating these types of simple parameters for yourself, you can break down packing to a science and ensure that you return home feeling just as good as when you left.
Travel is a great time to explore food options in a new place. But, I find that there's also nothing worse than finding yourself hangry while stuck in traffic on a roadtrip, on the tarmac of a delayed flight, or in an office park full of less than desirable food options. There are three main ways that I prepare for these types of challenges:
- Pack Like You're Going to Camp: As a kid, I remember making a big bowl of GORP ("good old raisins and peanuts") when preparing for a hike or an overnight camping trip. I find that nothing travels better than trail mix, and in a pinch nuts and dried fruit can pack a great punch. On the Sunday nights before I hit the road, I pull together a mix of nuts (almonds, cashews, and walnuts are favorites), dried fruit (like tart cherries, sultanas, or banana chips), seeds (pumpkin or sunflower) and a touch of sweetness (dark chocolate or carob chips). I store them in my favorite Produce Bags for easy access.
- Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate: Many people arrive at airports and toss their bottles - only to buy a few liters of water before they hit their gate. I always have my reusable water bottle on hand, and on most flights, have the flight attendant fill it up several times while en route. Bonus step: fill your bottle with slices of lemon, cucumber, and herbs ahead of time as well. Nothing helps hydrate like a little flavored water, and when you fly frequently, you need that agua more than you know.
- Balance Meals Eaten Out with Stops at Local Markets: When in a new or unfamiliar place, particularly for work, eating every meal out can get tiresome (mostly if you're a home cook like me!). I like to balance the meals that I eat out with a stop at a Whole Foods or grocery store to pick up some easy fruits and vegetables that don't need to be refrigerated. I've traveled to some areas that were relative food deserts, and really appreciated stumbling upon a weekday farmer's market to stock up on some fruit. It's also a great way to hydrate after a long (and drying) flight.
I'm a firm believer that to some extent, when you look good, you feel good. If you are someone who spends money on products for your face, body, or hair, I strongly urge you to bring them along on your trip. You'd be surprised what you can fit in a quart-sized clear bag. Some general thoughts:
- I pack three-ounce bottles of my shampoo, conditioner, and several oils and sprays.
- I re-use old sanitized makeup jars and contact cases for packing pint-sized versions of my creams or concealers. I also have several travel-sized makeup items that never leave my suitcase.
- I also bring along my dry-brush, and a few pampering tools, such as a powder mask and scrub. If you've got a few evenings alone in a hotel, there's nothing lovelier than a glass of wine or some tea and a face mask to reap the benefits of time away.
And finally, I have a few miscellaneous thoughts on maintaining routine. While many of these apply mostly to those who travel for work, they can also help you find a balance when you're simply getting lost for fun:
- Determine Your Balance Range: At home, I exercise five to six times a week. When on the road, there are client or team dinners and occasional late work nights to consider. Figure out your general goal for maintaining things like exercise, or other daily practices, and identify your ideal maximums and minimums ahead of time. This will help you create an attainable range, and you'll be more likely to set aside a feasible amount of time to stick to your routines.
- Explore Options: While traveling for pleasure, I love to go in with a plan, and let life happen along the way. When traveling for work, my method is a bit similar, but I like to give myself options. If I can't exercise in the evening because of a dinner, perhaps I can find a local exercise class around the hotel or a local site to powerwalk to during lunch. Giving yourself options can better ensure that you maintain personal goals when in a new place.
- Be Flexible: Finally, give yourself a break. While I try to maintain routines, eat healthy, and care for myself the way I prefer, I'm quick to remember to be gentle on myself. Travel is a great way to enjoy a new place, get a little lost, and shake up your view. Don't forget to take advantage of that!