Holiday Travel: On the Road Again

Winter mountain road

[quote]

On the road again -

Goin' places that I've never been.

Seein' things that I may never see again

And I can't wait to get on the road again. --- Willie Nelson [/quote]

Tis the season...to travel.  Whether you’re going near or far, via plane, train, or automobile, chances are you will be migrating somewhere in the next few weeks.

In Theodore Zeldin’s book, An Intimate History of Humanity, he writes a wonderful chapter entitled “How travellers are becoming the largest nation in the world and how they have learned not to see only what they are looking for” (yes, that’s the entire title).  He believes that “adventure starts in the imagination” and that each journey is about discovery and transformation, both physical and mental.  Zeldin argues that travel, above all else, is about “the discovery of people: it is travail, it requires effort, and its reward is a transformation of both the visitor and the host.”

Travel has its roots in the religious pilgrimage -- and, as Zeldin reminds us, these journeys are believed to be good for the soul. But modern travel is often anything but holy.  And no matter how exciting your destination, the process of getting there can be daunting.  Here’s your guide to getting on the road, staying calm, and arriving in comfort:

Problem: What to Wear?

Solution:

  • Wear layers of loose-fitting, non-wrinkle-prone knits to accommodate fluctuating temperatures, and wear shoes that slip on and off easily
  • Avoid belts and overly-structured garments that can cause discomfort when you sit in them for long periods of time
  • Skip the perfume/cologne -- the scent becomes intensified in small spaces (but double up on deodorant)
  • In addition to thinking about what to wear, it’s also important to think about what not to wear.  To guide you, I suggest you check out this surprisingly amusing guide from Frommers, which lists 10 things to avoid. (Spoiler: crocs and convertible pants make the list!  As does head-to-toe camouflage -- turns out it’s actually illegal for civilians in some countries).

Problem: What to Pack?

Packing is an art.  And with the high cost of checking luggage, it’s more important than ever to be an efficient packer.

Solution:

  • Only pack what you can carry/wheel around.  Does that seem like an impossible task?  Follow this New York Times guide on how to be a packing superhero and fit 10 days worth of stuff into a carry-on.
  • Pack travel size items. Sephora has a full range of your favorite brands in miniature portions.
  • Use the Packing Pro app to help you organize your packing list and keep track of what you took on past trips.

Problem: Stress

Travel is synonymous with stress (and intensified even more if you’re traveling to one of these 5 airports).  Stress is toxic.  It weakens your immune system, causes anxiety, and disrupts sleep. Studies have shown that travel stress is experienced due to 3 main factors: 1) lost time (even smartphones can only make you so productive), 2) surprises (as in, “Surprise! Your luggage didn’t make it!”), and 3) routine breakers (i.e. unsavory airport food).

Solution:

  • Want to reduce the intensity of your body’s stress response when you hear that your flight is delayed?  Do what seems completely unnatural -- and borderline obnoxious: smile.  Regardless of how genuine it is, smiling lowers your heart rate and calms you, even if you feel anything but chipper. (Smile booster: Put some Bach’s Rescue Remedy on your tongue to help melt away your worries.)
  • Study this site, which provides info on how to get through the airport quicker. Then download Triplt to your phone.  It organizes your itinerary and keeps everything in one place, plus keeps you up to date with the latest travel info -- including delays.  Organization and knowledge help to keep stress at bay.bach

Problem: Dehydration

Flying promotes dehydration due to the drop in humidity.  This dries out your eyes, nose, throat, and skin, and can cause fatigue. Solution:

  • Moisture Surge Face Spray Thirsty Skin Relief   This moisturizer is applied via spray, which makes it convenient (and sanitary when on the go) and it can be applied over makeup -- a perfect solution for mid- or post-flight skin, which will need a thirst quencher.
  • The Water Your Body app (for iPhone and Android) gauges how much water you should consume and gives you reminders and sets goals to ensure you are fulfilling your necessary daily water intake.

Problem: DVT (or blood clotting in your legs)

These dangerous blog clots can occur during long periods of travel, due to confinement (it’s sometimes referred to as “economy class syndrome”).  While you can’t do much about the quality of your in-flight meal, you can give your legs an upgrade. Solution:

  • Fashionable compression stockings?? Yes! Check out the Rejuvahealth stocking stores for styles you’ll want to wear even when you’re not traveling.
  • Use this Wikihow guide or buy some FitDeck travel exercise flashcards to give yourself a private in-flight fitness workout.

Problem: Depressed immune system

You’re breathing recycled air, encountering hoards of people (and their germs), and walking around in public with your shoes off (I’m not sure that specifically lowers your immune system, but it’s gross anyway). You need to be prepared to go to battle to maintain your body’s equilibrium. Solution:

  • Take in as much Vitamin C as possible
  • Carry hand sanitizer, like L’Occitane’s organic lavender hand purifying gel.
  • This travel set helps you get rest (which is a great immune booster) with its cozy eye mask and avoid the germ-filled airplane pillows and blankets by bringing your own.

Problem: Boredom

Perhaps you’re like me and you never get bored -- but that doesn’t mean we always have access to what we want to do, and travel isn’t the most creativity-inducing activity.  Aside from playing on our phones, here are some ways to occupy your mind while you get from A to B.  

Solution:

  • Magnetic travel games are cheap, small, and will make you feel like you’re 10 again. (Traveling alone? Make friends with the person seated next to you and ask them to join you for some backgammon.)
  • Run down this Wikihow list of ways to pass the time while traveling.  The list includes nov el ideas like reading, sleeping, and gazing at the scenery.  But if that’s all a bit too mundane for your taste, it also offers other ingenious ideas: “While listening to your MP3 Player, picture the singer (or if you don't know what the singer looks like, make up one) in the window singing the song. Use your imagination, picture them running up to the car, or just singing without moving. Your friends won't even know!” OR “If you are traveling with other people, wait until someone falls asleep and then throw little pieces of paper at them until they react. Then pause and continue to do it again. (BUT NOT AT THE DRIVER.)”  [If you do decide to follow their suggestions, please report back -- I’d love to know how that works out.]
    Screen Shot 2012-12-17 at 6.46.13 PM