So, I think I’ve finally got this travelling malarky down. I think. (As I wrote this on the train, I whizzed past my stop… so, maybe not!) For the most part though, I’m quite good at staying calm while travelling – I know how to pack light, I know how much time to give myself, and I know how to stay sane when my transport is late and I’m going to miss my connection…
It all comes down to preparation. I think that’s the key to most things in life: how to eat well, how to get into a fitness routine, and how to travel well too. I couldn’t go without these 10 essentials, and they’re actually really simple to organise in advance.
It might not be a tangible thing, but time is my best travel buddy. It’s like a free luxury – if I get to a train station or airport early, I find myself more relaxed when waiting for my transport, and I’ll enjoy dipping in and out of the shops and foodie places making rational decisions. It means I won’t pick up a meal deal and instead go for a salad because I’ve got time to eat it, or I can pull out my KeepCup and get a mocha rather than grabbing a wasteful cardboard cup that you can’t recycle.
This should really be a given, seeing as I need water all day every day, but it took me a long while before I got into a good routine with a water bottle. Travelling fatigues my mind really quickly – in fact, I recently heard about decision fatigue when travelling, which is when you’re making so many quick decisions on the go that it really tires you out. My mind is always a-buzz: which escalator, which tube line, which platform, which carriage, which seat, which stop, which exit… so keeping your brain topped up with water will help you make better decisions, prevent headaches, and generally stop you from feeling crappy.
Whether its my commute to work, a quick hop on the tube, or a short-haul flight, having access to my favourite music and new albums makes it so much more fun. If you’ve got the cash, I’d really recommend getting Spotify – I’ve got playlists for every mood (Beach House for when I’m sleepy, Mac Demarco for when I’m smily, and Spotify’s Throwback Thursday for when I want a bit of nostalgia).
This is a biggy for me. Lip balm is an absolute essential. I couldn’t live without a glide of Dr. Hauschka Lip Care Stick in the morning, and top-ups during the day. Now that the weather is colder, this is especially necessary: dry hot air inside and cold bitter air outside will dry my lips out in an instant.
For longer journeys, such as my recent weekend away to Portugal, I took along Day Cream and Night Cream from Skincere, as well as coconut oil for wiping away makeup on the go and all its other beauty uses. And of course, for sun holidays, I wouldn’t ever be without my Green People Sun Lotion.
Similarly on my last trip, I really appreciated having travel sized haircare from John Masters Organics*. These whizzed through airport security without a problem and meant I could stay away from hotel freebies with SLS in, keeping my hair bouncy and shiny.
6. Battery Life
No-one likes a dead phone, but I especially dislike a dead phone/camera/laptop when travelling. On my way back from Amsterdam earlier in the year our train got stuck on the line for five hours and if I hadn’t had my laptop on charge (and free wifi from the amazing Thalys train) I think I would have gone mad. Despite having recently upgraded to an iPhone 6s, I’m in the market for a good portable charger to keep me toped up on the go. If you’ve got any recommendations, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
7. Homemade Food
Going hand-in-hand with time, food is another essential. For most trips, I’ll make something in advance – perhaps a quinoa salad or a smoothie. This, coupled with the opportunity to make mindful decisions for travel snacks, means I know I’m comfortable if I ever get hungry on the go.
I know it’s an everyday essential, but growing up in a family that never bought anything on flights, trains, even car rides meant that I spent a long time going without things that would make me happier and more comfortable travelling. I’m not advocating mindless consumerism (no-one needs a cuddly EasyJet toy) but if I find myself in a sticky situation, I know I’ve got cash there to get me through it. So far, missing a connection in Brussels meant I could buy dinner and adequate supplies for staying the night in a hotel, and having crazy terminal changes in Istanbul airport meant that I could pick up a sandwich while waiting for my flight, something none of the other passengers did in their panic.
Most of the time, when I go somewhere I won’t be there for long. Be it Cambridge, Amsterdam, or Paris, I’ve always carried out some form of research in advance. Pocket travel books are my favourite – I ended up reading one cover-to-cover before my trip to Amsterdam and had a lot of fun pointing out places to my boyfriend as we went around the city. It also meant I knew exactly how to plan my time, and the best places for vegetarian food, vintage finds, and where to rent a bike.
The golden rule. I can’t say I’ve mastered the art of patience, but it does prevent me from getting in sticky situations. After so much time travelling around, I know I’ll get to my destination no matter what happens, so instead of queuing for check-in for hours, I’ll sit on a bench and wait until the queue has gone through before I do – it means I’m more calm, and can make better use of my time. When a flight touches down, I’ll wait for most people to get off – save my adrenal glands from any extra stress. It makes a lot of sense, but it does take a bit of willpower to stop my itchy feet from wanting to run ahead!