I often have to pee about 4,000 times before I head to the airport. OK, I exaggerate. But certainly more than usual. It’s one of the clear signals that I’m anxious.
Look, I love to travel — experiencing new parts of the world, sampling and savoring different food and drink, delighting in how adaptable I can be. But, and I am hardly the only one, I frequently hate the process of getting from here to there. Travel tends to crank up my anxiety and stress levels. So much peopling and noise. Fresh air deprivation. Lack of comfy chairs and personal space.
I used to just suck it up, keeping a pack of minty gum at the ready. Bare bones. Maybe I also thought that real adventurers — whatever that meant — didn’t need lots of extra stuff. Or that I was supposed to be no-nonsense like my dad with his basic garment bag and briefcase.
What I’ve learned is I don’t need a lot of room for a few simple things that soothe me while traveling. I get to define what kind of adventurer I am. What helps isn’t nonsense. Here are five home comforts I don’t hit the road without:
Eye mask. I was gifted with my first eye mask about eight years ago, and I’m not sure how I lived without it. The mask improves my sleep, rests my overstimulated eyes during the day and blocks out the reading lights of other passengers on a plane. Although I doubt it’s possible to get awesome sleep on a plane at any time, my mask helps me relax and get more rest than I would without it.
Stuffed animal. Yes, I’m a 44- year-old woman, and yes, I still love stuffed animals. My current favorite is not actually an animal, but a blob. An Anxiety Blob to be exact. My friend, Nanea Hoffman at Sweatpants & Coffee, is responsible for the brilliance that is Anxiety Blob. It does great work helping me to relax in unfamiliar sleeping spaces.
Fresh Air Fare. I have a medicine cabinet full of wellness support at home, but when I travel I must choose. One of my favorites is Fresh Air Fare from Iris Healing Arts, an essential oil blend that comes with a sweet mini-metal canister that hooks on your key chain. In addition to being anti-viral, sinus-clearing, and immune boosting, it helps me breathe more deeply — something I often forget to do but desperately need when traveling.
Tea bags. In the beverage realm, tea is my go-to soother (for more dire situations, I add some whisky). I find lemon, peppermint and honey lavender teas especially relaxing, and it’s easy to pack. When I want to avoid the sugar rush of juice or soda on a plane, I ask for hot water and steep up some comfort.
Chocolate. Relaxing is fine, but some comforts of home are more of a pick-me-up. Whether I travel down the hallway of my apartment or to another country, chocolate is a steady companion in various forms — chocolate-covered raisins or almonds, a dark chocolate bar with sea salt crystal or one with cherries and chili to satisfy my spicy cravings. I believe I once set a record for eating a milk-chocolate pretzel bar. Side note: I highly recommend The Slow Melt, a podcast about chocolate that you can listen to while savoring your own road chocolate.
What comforts of home accompany you on a trip? Do you have the equivalent of a life-changing eye mask that we should know about? Please share the goods and let us know in the comments.