Around Atlanta News and Views
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I’m on a plane returning from New York City, where I went to see the Rolling Stones with my husband. The Stones were never my favorite group (I was more of an R & B fan), but this is what he wanted for Christmas. They were amazing, by the way; they sound exactly the same, and I’m pretty sure Mick Jagger has bionic hips. It’s the second time in as many weeks that I’ve been on a plane to NYC. Last week was to see my eldest graduate from college;talk about your parenting milestones! I will talk about milestones next time; this week, I want to chat about holiday travel. If you live in a different state than your family of origin, your holiday may encompass travel and all its inherent challenges. I am a systems person; I love coming up with a more streamlined way to do anything (hence the Thanksgiving spreadsheet). Because I love systems, I’m pretty good at them; this is not an unusual pattern, in my experience. The trick is to notice the things that you love and do more of them. In this vein, I have come up with a few simple suggestions I thought I would share, in the hope that they will help your travel be filled with more Ho-Ho and less WTF.
The first rule of holiday travel is to plan ahead when you’re packing. I have a list of a few tricks for successful packing that I have devised over years of using travel as my fondest way of expanding my life.
1. I always pack in a carry on suitcase on my outbound flight (even overseas), and I always pack an extra foldup bag to bring home treasures. This assures me that my luggage arrives with me, thereby eliminating the biggest travel hassle: lost luggage. I don’t mind checking bags on my way home, because I don’t need what I’m carrying for survival at home.
2. I dress in layers, so I don’t have to carry heavy coats. I only bring a lightweight coat as a windbreaker with as many layers as I need underneath it, and this works on all but ski trips. On ski trips, I mail all our ski clothes to the hotel ahead of time (it’s about the same as paying for extra bags for our family of six). Hotels are happy to keep your boxes in storage until you get there.
3. I bring lightweight shoes for working out and flats that don’t take up room, and I wear my heavier shoes through the airport. I stuff the packed shoes with socks and other small items to save room.
4. I pick one color scheme for the trip, using solids that coordinate, and then bring in color and texture with accessories and jewelry.
5. I lay out outfits on the bed to make sure I have things that mix and match (one per day plus a dressy one if needed), then I roll each article of clothing up in a dry cleaner’s plastic bag. As you roll the fabric, the air is squeezed out of the garment, making the roll smaller and easier to pack. It also helps with wrinkles.
6. I pack at least the day before my trip as I’m getting ready in the morning. As I’m dressing, I pack (or set aside in a pile, if I only have one) that type of clothing, accessory or beauty product as I use it. Then when I get ready for bed, I pack the things as I use them in my normal nighttime routine; that way I don’t forget anything. Before starting this system, I regularly forgot mundane items that were no fun to buy.
7. I keep travel sized bottles of all my skin supplies in a quart sized bag, and I fill them up when I come home from a trip. Don’t think I refill and organize the minute I get home. I do it in turtle steps; every time I go through the bathroom, I fill up one bottle. I don’t take shampoo, conditioner or lotion, because most hotels supply them now.
8. In addition to an extra fold up duffel bag, I take a small nylon grocery bag that folds up to the size of a pack of cards in my purse. That way I have a place to put all the layers that I take off in warmer rooms, like museums, as well as hats and gloves in cold weather.
9. Bring a tiny umbrella; you will assure a sunny trip by the mere act of packing the umbrella;the Universe is whimsical this way. I didn’t take an umbrella this trip, and it rained every day.
The second rule of holiday travel is to leave your thoughts about holiday travel at home with your scissors, matches and fingernail clippers (I find it highly amusing that I can take my knitting needles on the plane, but I have to leave my fingernail clippers at home). I used to be consumed with thoughts of how hard it is to travel during the holidays. I thought I had to remember everything to make it a perfect holiday trip, and if I forgot something, I was a failure. I had to plan for every eventuality in advance, defining every permutation of every problem then having a ready solution when and if it arose. Jeesh, how exhausting! No wonder I was always tired and sleep deprived before a trip, thereby setting myself up to get sick when I was exposed to the inevitable germs spread by coughing plane mates. And to think that all of this swirl was in my own head! Now when I travel, I take a lesson from Kristy Souto, my awesome yoga teacher (http://www.thebarefootyogastudio.net), and set an intention for my trip right at the beginning, as soon as my butt hits the seat of the car on the way to the airport. Then, I check back in with that intention as the trip progresses to see how I’m doing. It’s a little trick of enjoying the moment more by occasionally pulling out of it briefly and taking an emotional pulse. It keeps me aware of my feelings, my energy level, and what I’m bringing to the party: crappy thoughts or feelings of gratitude. If it’s the former, I turn it around by experiencing the latter.
And that’s it. My list of worry free travel tips. Of course,if you’re really balanced, you already know that all travel can be worry free, since you’re the one in charge of the worrying. My clients don’t believe that they can control their thoughts and stop worrying, and I tell them, “Yes, you can. It just takes practice. You’ve spent your whole life training yourself to worry; it’s not going to disappear after one or two tries. It takes time and practice. I’m here to tell you it’s worth the effort. That way when you leave the concert tickets back in the room at the end of a cab ride that costs $20 and twenty five minutes each way, you can just admit you screwed up, adjust plans accordingly, and accept the lesson in the mistake…I wish I were pulling this example from thin air. With acceptance, I can let the worry go. Instead I can look out the airplane window and be grateful that, a) I have the funds to travel on an airplane, b) the Wright Brothers stuck with it, and c) I have a husband who enjoys the adventure as much as I do.