I’m on a few airplanes every year. “Few” is a relative term. Maybe a lot of airplanes. And, having five planets in Virgo (tho’ my Sun is in Gemini, FYI), I like things just “so.” I love my systems, my best finds, my compartments, and my comforting things. (This is way less neurotic than it sounds.) Here’s how I keep it all together and cozy on the road:
STUFF, GEAR, GIZMOS
Tech: iPad with keyboard. In my office, I keep my MacBook Pro on my desk, hooked up to a 17” screen monitor. For travel I use a 13” iPad with a keyboard case. I didn’t warm up to the iPad until I got that keyboard. Now we’re in love.
Luggage: For big luggage, I use TravelPro, because my flight attendant friends say, “Duh, use what flight attendants use.”
One of the best additional pieces I’ve gotten is the Tumi roller nap sack (from the Alpha Bravo Series) — it’s hella pricey, but a great design and will last for years.
The Uniball Vision Elite pen, in black. Because they don’t explode on airplanes and they write like silk.
Kleen Kanteen water bottles because they don’t leak and are pretty much indestructible.
POTIONS & SUCH
Peppermint essential oil (I think Floracopeia oils are the best there are), is excellent for motion sickness and that general grey gunk feeling that hits when you thought you were close to landing but still have two hours to go.
Jet lag pills. These do take the edge off.
Oil of Oregano. I start taking three capsules a day, three days before I fly (it also comes in liquid drops but the taste is a gagger). Antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-gunk.
Emergence C. Essential, pre-flight, and on landing.
Rose water. Mist, mist, mist. Always, everywhere. This Heritage brand is my favourite.
Dark chocolate. One square of good chocolate is way more uplifting than a whole, waxy nasty candy bar. I always travel with Fleur de Sel dark chocolate. I also just discovered Sirene’s Madagascar chocolate.
My favourite mantra when I’m travelling is “Om Gum Gana Patayei Namaha” — A prayer to Ganesh, the remover of obstacles. So comforting. I have this version from Deva Premal on my phone/iPod, but you can dial it up from YouTube anywhere you are.
Manuka honey packets. Manuka is antibacterial magic and a natural sugar fix when you’re lagging.
Mint Buffing Beads from Renee Rouleau. Travelling can make you feel extra grimy — Renee Rouleau’s minty scrub is insta-face refreshing.
Cozy gear — essential for every climate: A shawl classes up any outfit and doubles as a blankie on the plane or on the airport carpet when there are no seats in the waiting area. I always travel with a knit hat — for bed head and warmth on planes, also doubles as a do not disturb sign when you pull it over your eyes to sleep. Eye mask – get one. Neck pillow — yes, you look like a total dork — get one and use it to sleep on the plane instead of squirming and bitching. Socks — always have an extra pair in your carry on. Ear plugs — I buy these in bulk now — hello goodnight’s sleep when hotel neighbours are rocking.
HABITS & PRACTICES
I always pack make-up in my carry on. If my luggage gets lost and I have a speaking gig at 9am the next morning, I can rock the stage in the jeans and t-shirt I flew in, but if I don’t have my eyeliner and mascara, fughet it. Keep yer face with you at all times. (And your meds.)
I’m usually in too much of a rush to opt out of the TSA full body scan. And while it doesn’t prevent radiation, I do always shoot the middle finger in the scanner to make my opinion known. So far I have not been arrested.
I got a Nexus card. Well worth the paperwork.
Hotels: I try to stay where there is room service because being stranded in Nowhere, Utah with some stale almonds in your bag, getting up when your body thinks it’s 4am, and having 20 minutes to get to your gig and no restaurant is in sight — really, really sucks. Being able to get an omelette or oatmeal brought to the room in the morning makes the difference in my performance and sanity until midnight that day.
When possible, I stay close to a Whole Foods or a health food store. If I can get some fresh basics I’m fuelled and blood sugar-balanced for at least two days.
I ask for a room away from the elevators. I inform hotel reception that I won’t be needing room service, or turn down service if I happen to be staying at a schmancier place. I like my room to myself and there’s no need to waste resources on towels and housekeeping. It’s just excessive and silly. Besides, I’m never anywhere long enough to need more than two towels, I mean, really.
I cover the TV in my hotel room with a towel or my shawl. I put a pillow in front of the door. I light a candle immediately — I’ve been using these travel tins from Mystic Masala for a few years. Love them.
Because I don’t watch TV at home (except PVR’d Modern Family), when I’m in hotels, I stay up way too late watching jail break reality shows and analyzing commercials. (BTW, there are a shocking amount of medication, antidepressant, and injury lawyer commercials in the US. Truly.)
I start packing a week before a trip — I have a collapsable clothing rack in my hallway. Way less stress this way. This habit came in handy once when, due to an impending snow storm, I had to change a flight and had 20 minutes to get to the airport so I could do my gig. I threw everything into a big suitcase, put on a hat, and wearing the same shirt I slept in, caught a cab to YVR.
I always unpack as soon as I get home. Immediately. It closes the energy of the trip. I unpack, draw a hot bath, and get ready for serious snuggling.
Shoe bags. Love them. No scuffs on your leather, no heel gouges in your silk blouse.
Packing light is not my focus. It’s the same amount of hassle to schlep a big wheely suitcase as it is a medium one. I pack for style and comfort. Travelling is hard enough, why should I suffer with less of my comforts and options? If I want, I bring my pillow (Why are most pillows in hotels 3 feet high?) I bring more shoes than I know I’ll need but allow for costume and comfort changes. I bring books.
I’ve mostly given up trying to “work” on planes. I always feel resentful and tired. I now regard flying as precious capsule escape time. So sometimes I do sketch out ideas and prayers and creatively write if I’m inspired, but if I feel like gorging on trashy magazines and the inflight rom-coms, I do so – guilt free.
Music music music. It’s easy to get pulled off centre when you travel. Body clocks, unfamiliarity, the demands of showing up. It’s my playlists that bring me back to centre every time, every city, every mood.
I’m usually working with different crystals at different times for different reasons. I always have a little something by my night stand. And there’s always some little talisman from my boy that makes it into my suitcase — a LEGO guy, a duct tape critter, a love note I’ll be saving for the rest of my life.
For gigs, I try not to be in a city for more than two days. Sometimes flight schedules make it a three-day trip but generally I get in, and get out. Gigs are career joy, but I’m not there to see the sites, I have a boy and dog to come home to. I used to travel for work with the mindset of “seeing all I could see” while I was there. It just stressed me out and I came home knackered.
If I can do it without compromising sleep, I try to get to a local church, or go to a burrito joint, or the local bookstore. Happiness and… home.
May you travel with grace for the grit of traveling,