While traveling gluten-free presents a unique set of challenges, in general travel can be exhausting for everyone. Here are a few of the little things that help me keep my trips invigorating rather than draining.
Tip #1 – Pack Light and Efficiently
When possible, keeping your luggage to just a carry-on will give you maximum flexibility and you won’t be overburdened with huge suitcases. When choosing clothes – if you stick to a color theme you can repurpose items in various outfits. Shoes take up a lot of space so pick wisely and consider comfort then style. (Even with a small bag you can fit a surprising amount of stuff. My friend Eliana says my suitcase is like Mary Poppins’ bag – it looks small but I keep magically pulling out more and more.)
Tip #2 – Be Prepared For Security at The Airport
Have everything ready before you get in line – put all of your liquids in the required one-liter plastic Ziploc bag, take off any metal you may be wearing in the form of watch, jewelry, belt etc. Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off since you will have to put them through the x-ray machine. If you are bringing a laptop, have it ready to put in a separate bin.
Tip #3 – Maintain a Healthy Routine
Once you arrive at your hotel or other accommodations, check to see what facilities are available to you. I always try to get to the gym in the morning before starting my adventures or work. It keeps the trip from becoming so draining. If there isn’t a gym at least I can do yoga in my room with a travel yoga mat. Hotels usually have recommended trails for runners or can tell you where to find the closest gym. Your routine is likely different from mine, but look for ways to keep to it while you are traveling.
Tip #4 – Drink A Lot of Water
It’s easy to get dehydrated while you are traveling. Drink water whenever you have the opportunity. Forgo the dehydrating beverages (caffeine and alcohol) while you are on the plane and instead ask for an extra bottle of water. Buy a big bottle of water for your hotel room (if the hotel does have a gym there is usually a big water cooler - refill your water bottle there even if you don’t plan on working out). If you are traveling by car, load the trunk with a case of water bottles to consume throughout the trip.
Tip #5 – Bring Your Own Entertainment
My ipod, travel ipod speakers and Netflix DVDs (you can mail them back from anywhere) keep me sane when separated from my DVR.
Tip #6 – Make A Plan (then don’t stick to it)
Planning where you are going and what you will do will help you get an idea of what the city you are visiting has to offer. It will help you figure out where things are located and how long it may take you to get from place to place. But when you are actually on the road, or starting to explore, throw out the plan when other opportunities come up. If you become too attached to having things go exactly one way you will miss out on great stuff that you never could have planned in advance.
Tip #7 – Be Prepared
Make a checklist of things you need to bring on your trip and use it as you are packing. Take seven extra days worth of medication or medical supplies; you never know if weather delays or other unforseen events could delay your return home. Print out your itinerary with phone numbers and addresses. Leave one copy in your carry-on, one in your checked bag and one in your purse or briefcase. When traveling internationally, make extra copies of your passport and put it with the itineraries, then leave a copy of your passport, itinerary, and credit card info with at least one person at home so that should you lose any/all of the above you will be better equipped to get your trip back on track. While in general I don't recommend relying on airport food to be gluten-free, you can check which restaurants are in the airports on your itinerary.
Tip #8 – Don’t Put Everything Important in One Bag
If you are checking a bag, put anything truly valuable (jewelry) or important (medication) in your carry-on. Pajamas, intimates, truth brush and tooth paste should also go in your carry-on if possible.
Tip #9 – Some Products Make it Easier To Live “On-The-Go”
Travel sized toiletries – they are smaller AND usually fit the new FAA regulations for carry-on liquids.
A Carry-On Bag On Wheels – I resisted before giving in to this one, but your back and arms will thank you as you weave your way through airports, train stations etc.
Eagle Creek Travel Gear – I laughed when my Dad first gave me these pockets and packing systems, but now I can’t imagine traveling without them. The folders and cubes keep your clothes organized and minimize wrinkling, helping you to stick to tip #1 – pack light
iTrain Workouts – they have everything from elliptical, stairclimbing or treadmill workouts to yoga or dance routines. They load easily on your mp3 player of choice and will help you stick to tip #3 – maintain a healthy routine.
Facial Cleansing Cloths – Instead of packing liquid facial cleanser, each cloth is a disposable washcloth and cleanser in one – you ladies no longer need to bring eye-makeup remover or a big bottle of facial soap
Tip #10 – Find What Works For You
Everyone is different – that’s what makes life so interesting, no? My friend Erica and I totally disagreed about what was "photo worthy" when I went to visit her in Paris. I wanted photos of people not things (I could buy a postcard of the Eiffel Tower right?). It drove her nuts initially, but we both ended up having a great time. You just have to realize that other people might different priorities and then roll with it.
Please share any tips that you find make traveling easier or more enjoyable.
PS - Happy Birthday Doris - I miss you!