Come fly with me…

If you know me, you know I like to be helpful. I also like to be prepared. (Bandaids in my bag? You bet. Hand sanitizer? Obviously. Need Tylenol? I’m here for you.) So it should be no surprise that when it comes to traveling, I like to do my research, and since I recently got back from a week of travel, just in case you’ll be traveling soon (the holidays are racing toward us!), I want to share a few items that could help make traveling easier.

Airborne Chewable Tablets

Airborne. I’ll be honest, I’m a skeptic when it comes to magic supplements. I mean, I take my multi-vitamin every day, but I used to get sick every time I traveled. On a plane, in a car, it didn’t matter, I would catch a bug on the way to or from my destination. And who needs that? So out of desperation, I tried Airborne. The first few times, I chalked it up to coincidence. But after two years of “coincidentally” not getting sick while taking Airborne and traveling, I’m willing to admit this stuff works for me. I don’t know what it is exactly that transforms my immune system from Incrediboy to Wonder Woman, but I’m so on board. Just one tablet before I’m in transit and another when I reach my destination seems sufficient to fight off the germ villains.

Apps. If a plane is your mode of transport, there’s good news: most airlines offer free in-flight entertainment on your personal device. But it requires a little bit of planning since you usually have to download a specific app. United streams movies through their own app, Delta uses GoGo Entertainment. I have no idea about the others, but make sure you download the necessary app first and pack those earbuds to help your flight time feel faster.

Contigo Ashland Glass Bottle

Water bottle. Yeah, I know, no more than 3 ounces of liquid through airport security. But there are water fountains (and sometimes bottle fillers) on the other side. So take an empty water bottle to fill up after security. And make it easy on yourself: use a carabiner to clip the bottle to your bag so you don’t have to carry it or try to fit it in your bag. That way you can access it easily but it won’t be in your way. Or buy one with a built-in clip, like this beauty I recently picked up from Target. It even has a lock switch so you won’t accidentally pop up the top if you bump it. Now that’s attention to detail.

Glasses case. Okay, so that might sound weird if you don’t wear glasses, but this tip isn’t about vision. See, I have a great, hard shell, travel jewelry case but sometimes it’s bigger than I need. But I do want something that will keep the more delicate pieces from being crushed. Enter the glasses case! And as a bonus, nobody’s gonna look at a glasses case and think it has jewelry inside, so it’s a two-for-one deal. If you don’t need to pack jewelry, it also works for other small items you want to keep protected.

Mediterra Snack Bar

Snack bars. Whether you’re on a plane, in a car, or strolling around a city, snacks are important, am I right? Nobody wants to deal with you and your hangry self. And one of my new favorite snack discoveries is the Mediterra savory snack bar. When I’m hungry, I don’t crave sweet, I want savory or salty but unfortunately most protein/snack bars are incredibly sweet so I had to do some digging to find another option. Enter Mediterra! These bars still have a hint of sweetness but they’re savory, with the goodness of pumpkin seeds and kale. Just, you know, check your teeth after you have one.

Pepper spray. So that took a turn, huh? When I travel alone, safety is a concern. Hello, I write about crime so of course I’m gonna think about worst case scenarios. One of your best defensive tools is awareness, but it never hurts to have a little backup. Obviously you can’t take pepper spray on a plane, so if that’s how you’re traveling, you can just slip it in your checked bag. (In a ziplock bag in case things go horribly wrong.) Once you get your suitcase, you can retrieve the spray and put it in a more accessible place before leaving the airport. Just make sure you know the pepper spray laws for whatever state you’ll be in.

Flapjacked Mighty Muffin

Breakfast. Speaking of being prepared, I always feel more ready to take on the world when I have protein for breakfast, which can be hard in a hotel. But again, a bit of research and hello, Mighty Muffins. These little beauties just require water and a microwave and boom: low carb, high protein nutrition to start your day. They’re not your standard sweet muffins, though. More like bread, which I prefer for a breakfast food. (They’re gluten free, too, if that’s your thing.) If low carb isn’t your concern, Kodiak Cakes makes their own version of instant muffins. Just make sure you pack a fork.

Bodium French Press Mug

Coffee. if you know me at all, you know my breakfast wouldn’t be complete without coffee. Good coffee. So naturally, when I’m confronted with the possibility of drinking hotel coffee, I pack my own. (Go ahead, call me a coffee snob. And then do it again after you’ve had old, stale coffee.) Lately I’ve been really enjoying cold brew coffee, so when I found this French press travel mug, it was the perfect solution. I just mix the ground coffee and water, stick it in the mini-fridge overnight, and the next morning I have a smooth, delicious iced coffee to sip. It also works well for visiting people who don’t own a coffeemaker. (Yes, those people do exist, apparently.)

Those are my favorite ways to make travel easier and more fun. What about you? Got any travel tips to add?

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unencumbered

Some girls are natural, low-maintenance travelers. They throw a few things in a bag and they’re good to go, ready for a weekend of adventure. They’re breezy and light, “no big deal” type of people. They are the epitome of traveling light, little to weigh them down.

I’m simply not that girl.

I’m the other girl, the one the first girl goes to when she spills a drink and needs an extra shirt. Or when she has a hangnail and she doesn’t have a pair of nail clippers in that tiny bag she packed.

I don’t particularly like having an overpacked bag, but I’m driven by the need to be at least a little prepared. Because heaven knows if I don’t bring a bandaid, I will most certainly get a monster of a paper cut. And if I only bring one pair of shoes, I will undoubtedly step in a puddle during a thunderstorm and end up with soaking wet shoes that refuse to dry.

And so I pack all the things, with their accompanying chargers, and extra clothes, and things I think might be useful to traveling companions. I find myself adding to a bag at least two books (because what if one of them isn’t that good?) and a notebook (what if I want to write?) and a laptop (what if I want to write on my laptop?) and a puzzle book (for in the car/plane, if I don’t want to read) and a bottle of Airborne (because there’s a 99.99% chance I will get sick if I don’t take it).

I lug my big bag or suitcase around and gaze wistfully at the woman swishing by with a tiny bag. She looks so carefree, that woman. So unencumbered.

But then I think… I bet she’s got a hangnail that’s driving her crazy.

My worries are light when my bag is full, ready for whatever life may throw at me while traveling. I’ll take an unencumbered mind over a light bag any day.

If you need me, I’ll be lugging around an overstuffed bag as I steal my husband away for a few days to celebrate his birthday. Wonder how many books I should pack for him…