When I first started traveling for work I was in awe of the seemingly perfect travelers around me. You know them; they're the ever efficient people who make security look like a breeze and have everything organized for quick on-the-go access. The men knew how to fold their suit jacket so that it didn't get any unwanted creases in it. The women, very often in heels, made lifting a 35 lb roller bag into the overhead bin look easy, as if I wasn't in awe enough that they had managed to fit EVERYTHING they needed for the next week in a small bag. But the biggest giveaway was that they don't look miserable. It didn't matter if the flight was delayed for the third time or if the only seat left on the Southwest plane was next to a crying child, they always looked like were heading to Sunday brunch rather than a three hour non-stop flight to LAX.
Flash forward to now and it's been two years. For the better part of the past two years, I have been traveling each week. I have mastered the art of quickly going through security but that is more due to practice than anything else. No don't get me wrong, there are some definite perks to living the traveling lifestyle. For example, this spring I had saved up enough travel rewards points to cover the airfare and lodging on a three week European vacation. But even that doesn't make up for the long hours sitting alone at airports. To avoid the miserable look during all this waiting, I've amassed a list of tricks that help me remain energized, alert and sane while traveling:
Everyone knows that eight 8 oz glasses of water are recommended each day, but how many of us actually abide by this? I know I didn't. But this is definitely one of the best things to follow when "listening to the doctor's orders". My favorite water to grab at the airport is Smart water. It's not because it's the current fab, but because of it's taste and the electrolytes in it. Plus, who doesn't want to drink water that helps you look like Jennifer Aniston? ;)
I used to be vehemently against using any kind of drug, even pain relievers. But that was before I realized that there just some days where no seat is comfortable. I started taking Advil for the little aches I would get in my back and now I won't travel without it.
I think it was about a year ago that I realized how much of a lifesaver eye drops are. There were times in the past that I woke up with this dragging feeling in my eyes. I had always assumed it was because I was tired. WRONG! I was working at my clients site one morning and woke up with the dragging feeling as well as eyes that were horribly bloodshot. A co-worker of mine suggested eye drops for the redness and BOOM a miracle. Okay, so many the world miracle is too strong, but it was enough of an awesome feeling to realize that the dragging feeling was not me being tired, but rather my eyes being dry from staring at the computer all day. So now I always carry a bottle with me, preferably Visine Advanced for it's use as a redness and irritation relief.
I don't know about you, but I am always freezing! In airports, restaurants, hospitals, everywhere and really any place that I can not directly control the A/C. It did not take long for me to realize that I couldn't go around shivering but needed to find a solution. Carrying a blanket around with me did not make sense and a pashmina was not big enough. A trench coat was a perfect fix because nobody looks at you for carrying around a trench coat. I found one very similar to this one. It has a removable hood and a detachable inner lining. I used mine on my vacation in Europe; added the hood when it was raining and added/removed the lining depending on the temperature. AND a very big plus is that it looks so stylish, such as this one on Olivia Palermo.
Despite best laid plans, there are sometimes you just cannot avoid red eye flights or ones that are scheduled to leave before most people have even woken up (i.e. 5:00am). Flight attendants usually dim the cabin lights on these early/late flights but even that's not enough if the person next to you has chosen to read a book rather than act like a reasonable person and get a little shut eye. Trust me, it's a MUST!
Wall charger for cellphone
I feel that this one is pretty much a given, but i'm always surprised on the number of times I hear people say, "My phone is dead" at the airport. The problem is that a lot of people remember to pack their chargers, but leave them in their checked luggage which makes charging your phone on your layover pretty much impossible. Word to the wise: pack it in your carry-on.
Headphones (especially ones with a mouthpiece)
It only took one long flight with nothing to and nothing to listen to for me to remember to always pack a pair of headphones. Even if you are intending to sleep on the plane, headphones help while traveling. You can keep your hands free while moving throughout the terminal while on a phone call, you can block out the 5-year-old who just really hasn't learned volume control and you can use them to watch Netflix for those times that you misread your itinerary and have a three hour layover, not the 30 minutes like you originally thought.
I know a lot of young moms who find this as a no-brainer. They're used to children who say that they are not hungry when you're next to the cafe but surely enough are STARVING 10 minutes later when there is nothing in sight. For adults it is less about being able to predict if and when we're hungry but how to eat healthily on the road when there are nothing but fast food joints around. I try to always carry a healthy alternative with me such as nuts or dried fruit, but there are times when I've just run out of snacks and didn't realize it. If this happens at the airport, I head straight to a Hudson News Stand. These places aren't only good for books and magazines, but they have a wide assortment of granola bars, nuts and other low fat snacks. Nature Valley bars are always a go-to for the flavor and the nutritional factors. Snacks that are high in protein are generally a good grab as protein helps you stay fuller longer, or until you have time to stop for a real meal.
A good read
Each time I finish a really good book, I silently thank my parents for instilling in my sisters and me a passion for reading. This passion has helped so much when traveling. A book that I LOVE and have just finished is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. My tip when finding something to read is to find a book that is about another passion of yours, such as fashion, sports, entertainment. There are so many good books out there just waiting to be read.
A Starbucks card
So this one is more of a personal preference than anything else. For coffee lovers out there, you'll know why it's here. There is almost ALWAYS one nearby and because they are such a large company with standard recipes, you don't have to worry about not liking the drink you ordered. For those of you who who feel that a shot of expresso just isn't your thing, they have a variety of drinks that have caffeine without needing the bean. I've recently fallen for their Green Tea Frappuccino. It's made with matcha, a type of ceremonial green tea from Japan which has 10 times the antioxidants as regular green tea because it uses the whole leaf to make. Try it with a pump of raspberry syrup!
Thank you everyone for reading and happy traveling!