Each of these picks represents responses to real-life problems that have happened to me more than once on the road. First part of a series.
Hard copies of everything having to do with the trip
Yes, I have heard of the 21st century. Yes, I know that I am killing trees. I also know the most precious resource on a trip is time. While the person next to me with the state-of-the-art thingie is trying to find a signal, or an outlet in the lobby of the hotel to recharge the dead thingie battery, I have handed the clerk a piece of paper with the details of my lost reservation. And while the new, broken version of Google Maps would have put me 10 miles away from my motel, I have the motel’s corrected directions on paper, the ones that actually work until Google reconciles the error.
Plastic garbage bags.
I like the new scented 13-gallon bags. I usually stick at least three into a corner of my luggage per trip plus one 33-gallon sized behemoth. If there is ANY rain in the forecast, anywhere, I use the big one to line my luggage. My last series of trips it rained at biblical depths across a couple of states, and although the bag was soaked, what was inside was dry.
The smaller bags?
For the time that the leak-proof shampoo bottle exploded. And the bar of chocolate melted, threatening to engulf everything I owned. And I learned that it does keep clothes fresher longer to have dirty laundry in a separate bag. Because I work in the motel room between gigs and usually buy my food at grocery stores, I can create a lot of trash in a couple of days.
I bundle it up in one of the smaller bags and take it to the front desk, to lighten the load for the folks who clean my room, so they can finish on time and get back to their families. And since I often go back to the same motels, people remember, and it earns me a happy smile and a thank–you, which lightens my day as well.
It is about treating the desk clerks, room cleaners, cabbies, wait staff, drivers, flight attendants, etc., as part of the team that helps me do my job better. Treating them with respect and empathy.
(On the same note, when you leave your tip in the room, write a thank-you on a piece of paper to go with the money. My husband will write something in Spanish, if he thinks it fits with the ethnicity of the staff.)
My little medicine kit
Pink tummy pills to fight the side effects of food poisoning. Anti-acids: the old fashioned calcium-based kind that you chew. That stuff you use to stop a toothache. That other stuff to plug where you lost a tooth. Band-aids®, for cuts and blisters. Alcohol wipes, to clean a bad cut when you don’t have access to clean, running water. Really good tweezers, for really bad splinters. Anti-itch cream–we all have our favorites; whatever works best for you.
I don’t like to use antibiotic cream, so more likely to go for hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol if I need something extra–one or both available at most gas stations that stock more than candy bars and motor oil.
Many people pack painkillers. I pack multiple bottles of baby aspirin as a recommended first response to a heart attack (heart disease runs in the family) but I don’t like most OTC medicines. Good to talk to your health professional about works best for you.
This nifty take-for-granted invention (circa 1849) probably could fix a disabled SUV and can deal with 99% of clothing repair. Faster and more reliable than those little thread and needle repair kits, unless you are a skilled tailor, which I am not.
Cough drops with menthol
Because I talk for a living, I suck on them 30 minutes before I start. Also decent as breath fresheners.
Emergency pair of prescription glasses
Since I need prescription eyeglasses to drive, I pack an extra, cheap pair in my carry-on bag, for when I predictably leave the first pair in the rental car.
Extra undies: panties, slip, bra
An extra day’s underwear, for when life happens–the waiter who dumps soup in your lap, the toddler who tips over the ice tea, the gas nozzle that slips out of your hand and sprays you, and the worst case of food poisoning of your life. (Mexican food, Shreveport, Louisiana) In some fantasy world, people wash out underwear in their motel room on the road, and it dries overnight without acquiring moldy smells.
In my real life, I get to the motel at 11 pm and have to leave at 6 am. Sleep is #1 priority. Most of my trips are under seven days. So I will pack for each day, plus one.
My favorite vitamin supplement
Even if it is just the placebo effect, I do think and feel better.
My favorite teas, in tea bags
My special treat from home. And many of my clients serve only coffee at our meetings, and the institutionalized, ancient tea, unless the staff loves teas and buys new tea frequently, is ancient and tasteless.
How about you?