I’m the first to admit that I love the adventures that come my way when I travel. I credit travel with the opening of my soul in many ways, introducing me to new concepts, places, foods, and people. I’m also the first to admit that I function at my best when I have the comfort of routine. Though I am a bit of a homebody these days, I spent most of the time from 2006 to 2010 living in hotels. Oh, how quickly we forget! At least, I did until, I traveled to three different states in three weeks! It was definitely a throwback to my days as a Road Warrior Princess.
Though I’m glad to be home for a while, my travels weren’t too stressful because I have a handful of routines that make living out of a suitcase an experience that feels natural instead of strained. I thought I’d share seven tips for making your next trip feel like home when you are far away.
One – Note the Number
Before you leave home, program your cell phone with important numbers. Having phone numbers to the airline and hotel customer service numbers is great way to tackle any travel challenge you may have. Take it one step further by including important local numbers in your collection. I always have the direct number for my hotel handy, but I know I’ll be visiting a specific city fairly regularly, I supplement it with the numbers to cab companies, restaurants, and nail salons, making a visit feel more like home (and I file them by city). Use the notes section of smart phone, or a pocket or purse-sized notebook to remind yourself of favorite waiters or drivers.
Two – Delays Happen
Air travel is great when everything goes according to schedule, but nothing is perfect. Delays happen. Thunderstorms, maintenance issues, or staffing issues often affect an on-time departure. I know it’s frustrating, but beyond hoping to stick to a schedule, my number one rule is to get from Point A to B safely. When I’ve had delays or challenges (three in the last month!) I’ve noticed that a bulk of folks spend all their energy complaining, which only makes the waiting worse. If this should happen to you, remember this rule of thumb: it’s out of your control, so you may as well roll with it. If you get delayed, find a spot to sit and use it as an opportunity to enjoy the sport of People Watching. If the delay is significant or will alter your ability to make a connection, call the airlines customer service department as this will likely be a quicker solution than waiting in line for one agent to accommodate a plane full of passengers. Remember, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
Three – Bring Light Reading
I’ve traveled where I was trying to finish research for a project or attempting to better my mind by reading what the latest and greatest self-help book. Traveling is stressful, and providing your mind with an escape is a fabulous way to set the tone for your travels. Escaping in a “beach novel” or a magazine distracts your mind and relaxes you. We all need pleasure, and having something fun on hand to read will make the time pass more quickly.
Four – Put Away Your Things
There is no easier way to mess with a good morning than to be digging in your suitcase for elusive underwear or a shirt you want to wear. When you get to the hotel, spend the first few moments unpacking. Hang up your clothes, put your toiletries in the bathroom, and put your underwear in the bureau. When you are done, store your suitcase in the closet (or behind the drapes). Though it may sound silly, unpacking will signal to your heart that you are “home” – at least for a day or so. It also tells your mind that everything is in its proper place, allowing for a faster exit from your room to your event.
Five – Toiletries Rock
If you have a favorite shampoo, body wash, or other such toiletry, either bring it along or pick some up at your destination. For some folks, the convenience of little bottles of shampoo is a joy, but for others the textures or smells are so different from their regular routines, it throws them off kilter. Personally, the worst thing I can imagine is being forced to use tiny bars of hotel soap, so liquid hand soap and shower gel are my must haves.
Six – Watch Your Mouth
It’s tempting to eat foods you wouldn’t normally eat, like nachos or pizza, as well as to over-indulge in alcohol. We tell ourselves “we’re away from home, we deserve a treat”. And while I’m a huge fan of treating yourself, greatly altering what you put into your mouth in the form of food and drinks is a way to set yourself up for an unhappy digestive system. Eating a greasy or heavy meal means heartburn or difficulty sleeping. Travel is also very dehydrating, so be sure and drink plenty of non-caffeinated / non-alcoholic beverages. Water is my favorite beverage at home or on the road.
Seven – Mind Your Manners
Share a few kind words with service industry workers you come in contact with. Most people ignore bellmen, ticket agents, and waitresses unless they want to complain. A smile and a kind word costs you nothing but can be a turning point in a long day for someone else. And while we’re discussing kindness, don’t forget to be nice to YOURSELF.
It doesn’t matter if your next trip is for business or pleasure; remember it’s about the journey of the trip, not just the destination. These tips will simply make it less stressful and more enjoyable. What about you? What was your favorite tip? Or what travel tip would you add to the list?
(Image is “Last Stand / Fare Maiden” by Gil Elvgren)