My Travel Essentials – Things I love to travel with
You’ve seen a ton of travel blogposts on things-you-absolutely-must-travel-with or things-I-never-travel-without, but this isn’t one of those. I’m not going to tell you to pack a power bank and not forget sunscreen. Nothing against those practicalities but there are way too many of those posts already. Here I’m focussing on things that I love to travel with because they help me stay healthy on the road and you might enjoy them too 🙂 And by ‘healthy’ I mean energized, sleeping well, and feeling in charge of my emotional states – well, most of the time 🙂
Sure it’s better to get all your nutrients from food rather than supplements. But unless you’re growing your own food somewhere in the lap of nature where the soil hasn’t been stripped of minerals and the plants have never met a pesticide, you can hardly be sure that your daily food intake meets all your nutritional requirements. Travel often makes it tricky to stick to a steady routine of three proper balanced meals a day. Which is where multi-vitamins really save the day for me. I’ve been using TrueBasics MultiVitamins (also includes Calcium and antioxidants) for Women the last two months and I’ve found it to be a great support for my energy levels, sleep quality and general health. One box gives you 90 tablets, which will last you 3 months.
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Important to note, however, that supplements are called supplements for a reason. They cannot replace the role that good healthy food has in your life. Habits such as ignoring macronutrients, skipping meals, eating junk food are not “compensated” by popping vitamins or any supplements. Have a health-oriented approach to food (rather than just wanting to “lose weight” or conform to arbit standards of beauty and fitness), indulge once in a while (because YOLO) and let the supplements be your steady support.
2. Notebook & fountain pen (the old-fashioned earth-friendly way)
Because not all memories are best captured by cameras/cellphones, and old-fashioned physical pen-to-paper writing has a way of slowing you down enough to meet your own thoughts and check in with your feelings. This year I began what has been a really interesting practice of jotting down my night-time dreams every morning (partly because a certain Mr. Carl Jung said dreams are the royal road to the subconscious, and lucid dreaming is a hoot, but that’s another blogpost). So having a notebook and pen by my side wherever I’m crashing is important to me. Something about the flow of purple ink from my fountain pen makes writing and sketching feel so indulgent and quaint, I could do it all day. Also, refillable ink pens are way better for the planet (and hence for us). To prevent oil spills I fill up my pens just before leaving home.
3. A one-of-a-kind fragrance I made just for the trip
I don’t know about you but fragrances instantly affect my state of mind and get lodged in my memories of a place for years. Fragrances from essential oils, not the overpriced over-advertised fancy perfume bottles that smell so artificial and have more dubious chemicals than one can pronounce from their ingredient lists. The link between fragrance and memory is one of my favorite quirks about the human brain, and making a special fragrance for each new trip is a wonderful way to exploit that. For instance: a few drops of geranium and lemon essential oils mixed with water inside a spray bottle – smells heavenly and a great companion on my Slovenia trip a few years ago. Orange essential oil (well diluted) is my favorite on trips to big cities. A note of caution: Some people have adverse reactions to certain essential oils, so make sure you use one that works for you.
4. Sleep mask & Ear plugs
The importance of good restful sleep we all know well. Apart from Yoga Nidra (Yogic sleep) recordings on my phone, chamomile tea and staying the hell away from caffeine in the evenings, I need to shut out light and sound to be able to sleep well. I’m a light sleeper and I’ve learned by now that the quality of sleep decides the quality of the day. Sleep masks shut out all ambient light, which helps increase the melatonin levels and hence lead to deeper sleep. The new book ‘Why We Sleep- The New Science of Sleep & Dreams’ by Matthew Walker does a great job of opening your eyes to the importance of shut-eye.
5. Kindle & Audiobooks
Life without reading is a life I wouldn’t even dare to imagine. I love that I can entire library in this tiny gadget and it requires way less charging than any other electronic I’ve ever had the companionship of. Considering that books are the category I shop most frequently for, the kindle has been a great space-saver and also ebooks are often way cheaper than their physical counterparts. Audible is a great app for audiobooks and it’s my go-to when I’m on a night bus or a long flight. I had the super soothing voice of Clarissa Pinkola Estes (reading Theatre of the Imagination) transport me to some really strange realms on my overnight journey to Thiruvannamalai, making that old Volvo bus seem way more surreal than it was.
6. Coconut Oil
The Swiss army knife of toiletries, coconut oil needs no introduction. Works as make-up remover, lip balm, hair softener, skin moisturizer and oil-pulling for dental health if you’re into that. All of these uses minus the harm of dubious chemicals seeping into your bloodstream through your skin when you use the more expensive, chemical-laden, deceptively packaged products.
7. Safety Alarm
The only item on this list that requires batteries – apart from the Kindle – and might save your life. On many a deserted street or even in crowded public spaces, having this on my person has hugely added to my peace of mind and self-assurance. I have one that I wear around my neck like a pendant. The push of a small button on the side gets it to emit a 140 decibel siren – enough to alert EVERYone in your vicinity that you’re in trouble. If you’ve ever been in a situation that posed a big threat to your physical safety, you know that it can sometimes cause you to freeze or lose your ability to act and call for help. Just make sure you pick up one that you find easy to turn on and off, and it’s something you can wear or keep close to you.
I had a bit of an incident at Changi airport in Singapore last year when something inadvertently set off my alarm and I couldn’t turn it off no matter what. Wasn’t fun. The story even made it into the Washington Post a few days ago LOL. The TLDR being I had to place it under a running tap in the washroom to finally get the thing to shut up. Technology, I tell you. A simple alternative is to carry/wear a whistle, which also serves the same purpose. Just makes sure it’s loud enough and easy to access.
So there you have it, my favorite things to travel with. Things that help me keep my energy levels high, my immunity on point, and my days bright regardless of the weather 🙂 Let me know what’s on your list in the comments below!
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