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I’ve always been a relatively good traveler, but, to be honest, I’ve noticed lately that trips make me more nervous than they used to. Like other things, I tend to blame this on navigating an unpredictable immune system and medication side effects.  When I got sick, keeping a strict schedule in a fairly controlled environment really helped me to keep hold on my health situation and to feel as comfortable as possible. While this makes it more difficult for me to finish a paper at the eleventh hour, throw some clothes in a bag last minute, fight blindly through sleep deprivation during big events, and stagger home bleary eyed but generally energized from a fun adventure, I do think it’s prompted me to take a look at my travel rituals and be more mindful about self-care on the road. Can’t be a bad thing, can it? As I prepare for a trip to attend a week-long symposium in California next week, I’ve been considering my travel rituals and ways to make myself feel more comfortable not only on the plane, but also while I am away from home.

The reality is that I’ve logged a fair amount of miles over the past several years. Between living far away from family and having a job that requires somewhat frequent travel, I’m realizing that, unbeknownst to me, I have already developed some strong travel rituals. Recognizing these habits helps me to feel like being on the road isn’t as unmooring as it may otherwise appear.

Some things I’ve used in the past:

  • A nice passport case. I treated myself to an Italian leather one (it’s green!) when I was a college student studying in Rome. This is a great accessory to keep documents, receipts, and anything else handy. It’s lasted me forever.
  • My trusty moleskin.
  • A good neck pillow. I’ve had my Bucky for almost ten years (!!) and it’s still good as new.
  • Socks.
  • I always wear black leggings, a comfy tee with loose cardigan or wrap, and a scarf. Also, my favorite sandals or sneaks.
  • CleanWell natural hand sanitizing wipes. A good hand sanitizer is incredibly important for anyone on a plane and the research behind this natural brand seems strongest. Bonus: you can use these to freshen your face too!
  • Travel sized lotion.
  • A good lip balm.
  • Travel kleenex. A must.
  • My trusty Klean Kanteen to fill up after security.
  • Food. Some bars like these or these. I’ll also bring some trail mix or granola from home.
  • Ginger chews, because you never know when nausea will strike. My favorites are Reed’s and Ginger People.
  • Gum.
  • iPad, iPhone, and headphones – and I generally treat myself to a good magazine for the ride.
  • I usually get a hot herbal tea before boarding along with a small meal in the airport so that I don’t have to buy food on the plane. Sometimes I also buy an extra water bottle in case the kanteen doesn’t last me the whole trip.
  • I am pretty good about flexing my ankles and getting up to do some light stretching mid-flight. This helps circulation, and fatigue.
  • Pills. Always carry your pills with you on the plane. Bring more than you’ll need on your trip.

Some additions I’d like to make:

  • A must for gross airplane seats.
  • I want to start bringing my own tea bags. This saves money, avoids a limited selection on the plane, and has the added benefit of feeling like home. Some favorites include herbal organic ginger teas and relaxation blends.
  • Since my last trip I’ve gotten hooked on Avène spring water mist. I’ve heard wonders about spritzing your face mid- and post-flight, so I’m going to use this to give it a try.
  • A classic that I’ve never tried. Good for lips and skin.
  • Some aromatherapy would be nice.
  • To take the edge off. (naturally, of course)
  • I’ve been starting each day with a smoothie, so I’m going to bring some Vega pouches to tide me over while I’m gone.
  • I discovered these on my last trip. Add an apple and you’re good to go. I think I’ll bring some along for the ride.
  • Baggu for extra storage.
  • My phone ALWAYS dies. 
  • Also, this trip I plan to read this – finally.

In my dreams:

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Wow, that was a lot. I guess we often have comforting rituals hidden even where we didn’t realize it. Just takes a little deep breathing and mindfulness to reap the comforts that have already been sown.