Top 5+ Travel Tips – In Short, Lighten Up

Dr. Mia Cary, CEO & Change Agent, Cary Consulting

If you read the Nov/Dec 2018 AAIV eNewsletter you may have seen my travel tips article. For your reading pleasure I’ve updated those tips and added a few more. Like many of you I travel frequently and have picked up travel habits that help to increase efficiency and comfort while on the road. My ‘top 5+’ travel tip list evolves and fluctuates over time (as does my top 5 Oreo flavors, but that’s for another time. Today I share with you my current top 5 travel tips.

Tip #5 = Reentry

If you have been in the veterinary profession for longer than 10 years you may have crossed paths with Dr. Dan Green, or know of him. I had the pleasure of working with Dan for the majority of my nine years at Boehringer Ingelheim (BI). During our first year together at BI he explained the concept of reentry and how it had worked wonders for his sanity and his marriage (Hi Glenda!).

The key to reentry is to remind yourself as you head home after several days on the road, that the person you live with (eg partner, spouse, family, etc) has been dealing with their own set of challenges and frustrations while you’ve been away. Just because you’re feeling like an exhausted road warrior and want nothing more than to slide into your favorite chair (or bath), kick off your shoes, put up your feet, and chill – it will serve you well to take a deep breath and prepare to give a bit of yourself to those waiting to greet you. Listen to what’s been happening in their world while you’ve been away (even if you talk to them every day while you’re traveling), make sure they know how happy you are to be home and how much you’ve missed them, and THEN chill. And remember to be mindful of your greeting so that your spouse knows you are as happy to see them as you are your dog or cat (I’m still working on this one eh Hubs?).

Tip #4 = Screenshots and Mobile Apps

Confession, I was a slow adopter for relying solely on a mobile app digital boarding pass. While I’ve used the mobile apps for Delta, United, and American Airlines for quite a while, up until recently I also printed a hard copy of the boarding pass (sorry trees) just in case. My rationale was that if I had dodgy internet or cell service then the boarding pass might not be available when it’s time to board the plane (which happens, albeit infrequently). Now I simply check-in on the mobile app then screenshot the boarding pass. It’s ready to go whenever I need it, easy peasy! But – check your mobile app now and then for gate changes and such.

Tip #3 = Layers

What our moms told us is true – layers are the way to go. This is as true for the road warrior as it is for those preparing to play in the snow. Those of you that are longtime travel warriors already know that in the summer hotel meeting rooms are frigid due to the AC being cranked on high, and in the winter they are usually steaming hot. Never, ever go to a meeting in a hotel meeting room without a sweater or some sort of jacket or suit coat. You’re welcome. Ditto for the plane. It may be 110 F outside but if you’re getting on a plane with a sleeveless top, you’re more than likely going to be chilly during the flight. Wearing your layers on the plane also makes room in your suitcase for other necessities.

Tip #2 = Duplicate Staples & Ziploc Bags

If you travel once a month or more, consider purchasing a second set of all of your staples such as toiletries, charging cords, and a few of your favorites. When I started this habit over 15 years ago it was a game-changer. Now my routine while unpacking after a trip is to restock my duplicates (eg add more shampoo to my 3 ounce refillable bottle and add more qtips to my qtip refillable holder), throw a Bounce sheet into my suitcase, partially zip it up (to allow a bit of air flow) and it’s ready to go for your next trip.

As you’ll see with my final tip I typically travel quite light, but I always pack a few “favorites” so it feels like I’m bringing a bit of home with me. While hotel shampoo and lotion are perfectly fine, I typically pack my favorite shampoo (Aveda), lotion (B&B Works Japanese Cherry Blossom), and lounging socks (soft and furry). May not sound like much but when I get back to my hotel room after a long day these little perks are quite nice.

Because I carry several refillable bottles I learned long ago to use ziploc bags instead of more permanent toiletry kits. At first blush this suggestion doesn’t appear to be environmentally friendly but I get MANY repeat uses out of my ziploc bags. I use one gallon size for items such as make-up and dental floss and use the quart size for small travel bottles of liquids like shampoo. If my shampoo bottle happens to leak (which I’m convinced happens completely at random) I can simply rinse out the ziploc bag and it will be dry by the next morning. Ziploc bags are also easy to compress to rid of extra air, this makes them even more packable.

Tip #1 = Lighten Up

Last but not least – lighten up! Lighten up in terms of how you pack and also the attitude you choose while on the road. We know that attitude is everything, and we know it’s much harder to choose a good one when things aren’t going your way (eg your flight is majorly delayed) but what a difference it can make to how you experience travel challenges! It’s taken me a long time to really own this, and my #alwaysanupside approach helps as well. Flight delays? Well that leaves more time to knock out some work so there will be less to do when I finally get home. Or, perhaps I’ve had a really busy week and a flight delay gives me time to read for pleasure so that I’m more refreshed and ready for reentry. On the more challenging travel days it’s helpful to remind myself how lucky I am to have a career that allows me to travel – it really is a gift and a pleasure that sometimes those of us that travel routinely for work take for granted.

Back to the packing side of lighten up – this is something I’ve gotten really good at. An extreme was last October when I traveled for just over three weeks straight with only one carry-on suitcase. I couldn’t have done it without the one night stay at my sister’s house (thx Kaye!) and access to her laundry room but still …. 3+ weeks! According to my husband (who is an industry vet who travels a lot) women are able to travel lighter because many of our clothes are made of thinner, more packable material. He’s not wrong! One of the requirements I shoot for when purchasing work clothes is that that they are made of material that is easily dewrinkled by a short steam in a hotel bathroom. That, and excellent pockets, are my key work-clothes features.

The last aspect I want to mention associated with this “lighten up” tip is mindfulness. I realize this has become quite the buzzword however daily meditation and a mindful approach to traveling (and life) has proven to be very rewarding for me. I highly recommend the app. Whether you’re new to meditation or an old pro, I bet you’ll like this app (plus it has cool screensavers). We know the only things we can truly control are our actions and reactions, so let’s own them and make good choices shall we?

Bonus Tip: #airportart #lookup

If you have a bit of time during a layover, or even if you are running from gate to gate, look up and appreciate the cool airport art that you’ll find in most major (and many minor) airports. Search for #airportart on Twitter or Instagram and you’ll get a taste of all there is to see. Many airports such as ATL also have guest musicians serenading passengers, how great is that?!?

More bonus tips: Invest in TSA Precheck and Clear if you haven’t already. Just do it. And rolling clothes helps to minimize wrinkles. Speaking of wrinkles, one last tip – a 3 ounce bottle of Downy Light Fresh Wrinkle Releaser is one of my staples. Okay seriously just one more, taking a picture of where you park in the airport parking lot makes finding your car after a long trip a piece of cake. Mmmm, cake.

What about you? I bet you have very useful travel tips to share – please do!

Suggested action items: Share a travel trip with me, share a travel tip with a friend or colleague, commit to implementing one new travel tip on your next trip, or create your own action item. #justdoit