Travel is the greatest joy of my life. Even as a kid, I remember falling asleep at night imagining when my next plane ride might be and what I'd take with me. (It's ok if you think I'm weird. I am.) Even though airports come with their fair share of challenges these days, I still consider every part of the travel process to be joyous. Not the least of which is packing. (You may have just groaned.) In today's installment for #girlboss week, I'll share with you my best practices for planning a trip, packing, and staying healthy on the go.
I just made plans to go to New York for this year's SHE Summit, and I'm nearly giddy! I'm so glad to have a trip on the books, plus it's to a city I love, plus it's for an awesome event. So let's use that as an example for today's exercises, ok, though of course trips may vary.
Have Preferences: Know what airline(s) you prefer to fly. Be set up with whatever points system that airline uses (i.e. Southwest Rapid Rewards, which is free and will earn you free flights and sometimes drinks, hehe!). Knowing your airline also means you'll know their systems and regulations, like boarding practices and baggage fees. I also check ahead of time to see if the airports I'm traveling through have Starbucks... #obsessed
Book Smart: They say to book your flights on Tuesday mornings, and in the window of about 8 weeks out. I booked my flight to NYC yesterday for just $114 more like 12 weeks out, as I know that this trip doesn't get much more inexpensive than that. Now I can book the return flight next month, still within that window, and I was able to split the trip between two months' worth of budgeting.
Ditto for Hotels: I use Hotels.com and have gotten some really awesome rates at great places, or I'll use airbnb depending on the kind of experience I want to have. In Portland in December, Lindsay and I stayed in an Airbnb because we wanted to be within a certain neighborhood (location) and we had a kitchen, which we needed on this trip. Hotels.com has "welcome rewards" and you can earn different levels of membership that have different perks. And again, preferences! Know what amenities you need or prefer (Wifi! Walkscore!) so that you can search and make a decision quickly and easily.
Preparation: You don't have to have every hour of every day of your trip planned, but check ahead of time to see what's in the neighborhood where you'll be staying, if there's Uber or Lyft where you're going, or what key restaurants in town you might like to eat at. And always remember to allow for extra time when traveling because delays and getting lost can happen.
Brag moment! On my way through customs last fall, the agent opened my suitcase and said to me, "you're the most organized packer I've ever seen." And, y'all, dude sees a lot of suitcases.
Pre-Packing: Make a list. These days I skip this more often because a lot of my trips look the same, but I've used "the list" for years and it helps so much. My lists are categorized: tops, bottoms, dresses, jackets, shoes, fitness gear, and other like accessories or swimsuits. This helps identify needs, like "Shoot, I'm going to a weeklong convention - I could use another suit jacket or two." Or, "Lawdy I need a new bathing suit since that's all I'll be wearing in Mexico!"
Step 1: Pack the clothes! People say that you should roll them but that's never worked well for me. I fold things to about the same size and stack them tightly in the right half of my suitcase (the bottom when it's up and rollin' along) with heavier stuff like jeans on the bottom and lighter things like tanks on the top. Socks and underthings go in various pockets.
Step 2: Shoes. First of all, limit your shoes because they are space and weight hogs. I wear boots/booties usually to travel so that's one larger pair I don't have to pack, then the one pair of heels and one pair of sneakers I need go into shoe bags and fit perfectly in the bottom of the left side of the suitcase. A bonus of running in flyknits is that they are teeny tiny!
Step 3: Beauty. One of my "tasks and tips" is to have duplicates of beauty stuff that I travel with - deodorant, toothpaste, etc. - and in travel sizes where needed. These things I toss into a big ziplock freezer bag to prevent spillage and for airport security. Non-spillables like toothbrush and razor go in a separate little cloth bag, and my makeup all goes into a zipper pouch. Using separate bags means these can be maneuvered however amongst the shoes and things like a hair dryer and straightener on that left half of the suitcase, which is better than carrying one big cosmetic case that will fill up your space.
Step 4: Carry-ons. Ok, so you don't want to have to check that roller, right? But you still have laptop and accessories plus your purse, and those are two bags right there. I have a solution - a much bigger bag that holds both. My laptop bag carries any work stuff and all my chargers (so they're together and I don't have to dig around) and goes in the bottom of a big tote or duffel. (lululemon always has good, big options for bags.) Then my purse with all the usuals fits on top, and the whole contraption goes under the 'seat in front of me.' Done!
Food: Not falling totally off your normal pretty-good-ways of eating can be really difficult when you're traveling. I've had many a plate of airport chicken fingers and fries because that sounds so much better then those pre-packaged airport sandwiches (ugh). So, only recently, I learned how to combat that. On my trip to Las Vegas for a trade show last month, where I knew I'd be eating cafeteria-worthy food during the day and standard restaurant food at night, I packed a paper bag of essentials: Luna Bars, meal replacement shakes, and these little natural energy snack squares that my friend Sarah gifted to me. So I could have a couple of these in my purse each day to have instead of "whatever" was in front of me.
Aside from food, there are other ways to stay healthy (and happy) while traveling. I always take Emergen-C packets with me when I travel to ward off illness, and to manage my motion sickness I use sea bands. One last must-have: earplugs! Whether it's the super-chatty lady behind you on the plane or the party in the hotel room next door, these come in handy. I toss a pair into my dry-beauty bag and one into my purse.
Fitness: I don't bother to check my hotels for gyms because, to be absolutely honest, I won't use it anyway. Dreadmills don't do it for me, kids. Either I'm in a place where I can take classes (yoga is everywhere and soulcycle is in some of my most-visited locations), or I can learn the lay of the land on a quick run. If worst comes to worst, like on my recent Vegas work trip where my schedule was full as could be, I will do yoga or my arms and abs exercises in the hotel room. Not confident enough to do a whole routine on your own? Yogaglo.com will teach you classes right to your hotel room (why you need that wifi I mentioned) for $18 a month or use the free trial!
This took me a good bit of time to put together, so I hope you have learned at least a few things! I tried to keep this open to any kind of travel but this is something I really love to talk about, so if you have a trip coming up and want advice that may suit you specifically please let me know! Us #girlbosses have to stick together. :)