4 0 2

402 days. 402 (plus or minus… mostly minus) posts.

Tag: hotel

Tips on Feeling Like a Human While Traveling, and That’s About It

There’s a lot to say lately. And way, way more to listen to.

And in the middle of all the listening and the saying and the thinking and the doing, other parts of life keep moving. Maybe one of your sisters has a baby and you spend at least 20 minutes every day scrolling through pictures of her because she is the cutest baby in the world. Undeniably. The strongest, too. And maybe your job feels extra important now, because it’s teaching you confidence and clarity every minute of every day – and these are things you’ll need if you want to fix problems and change worlds.

And maybe part of that job involves a heckuva lot of travel. And thus – this post. A list of tips and tricks for staying healthy and sane while traveling. Particularly on those one-to-three day adventures, when you never fully settle in. Because whether you’re poised for a holiday immersion or a few last-minute work trips before the year ends, it never hurts to feel more like yourself.



  1. Know your habits.

Sleeping poorly is common “on the road.” But it can be mitigated with a little attention-paying. So, before you go to bed (and – you know – before you’ve actually left home), notice how you wind down. Do you wear cozy socks? Do you floss? (Please say yes.) Do you turn on a fan or humidifier? Do you read a couple pages of a Mary Higgins Clark murder mystery? Do you talk “roses and thorns” with your spouse or kids?

Make an actual list of your routines, so you’re aware of what’s become second nature. And then:

  1. Pick a couple of key habits or rituals, and pack accordingly.

Every night after I brush my teeth, I put a dab of Vaseline on my lips. (Is that weird? I’m not up to speed on the benefits of petroleum jelly.) When traveling, I used to sub whatever lip balm or Chapstick I could dig out of my backpack, but it’s just not the same. So now I pack a teeny tiny travel-size Vaseline in with my toothbrush. It’s not much, but it makes a huge difference.

When I’m at home, I also sleep with a fan running on low every night. I live in the city, and it helps dull the chatter of the after-bar crowd and the early-morning dog walkers. Hotels (and other people’s houses) are filled with a strange lack of noise. So I downloaded a free app that consists of eight hours of nothing but fan. On the road, I click it on every night and sleep like a baby.

  1. Create a travel-only ritual.

Sometimes, stress-free traveling requires more than just pretending you’re at home.

What’s a realistic but luxurious self-care ritual you usually skip at home and could easily do on the road? Maybe it’s a foot massage with that eucalyptus lotion someone gave you for your birthday. Or it’s using the expensive lavender wrinkle cream you definitely don’t need, but have 15 samples of anyway.  Especially if it’s a sample size, extra lotions or essential oils are easy to travel with.

My personal travel ritual consists of dabbing a drop of pure peppermint oil in the center of my palms, rubbing my palms together, and then gently massaging the peppermint on the base of my neck and upper shoulders every morning. Before I rinse the oil off my palms, I also vigorously rub them together and take a nice, deep inhale of the peppermint aroma. It’s refreshing and rejuvenating, especially when my body clock thinks it’s 4:30am, regardless of the actual time zone.

  1. Lay off the booze and sugar. And while you’re at it, find the veggies.

I know! Blasphemy! I’m not saying you have to skip cocktails and dessert entirely. But if you get knocked off your game by a couple of plane rides, weird-smelling Ubers, and/or a hotel shower that just. won’t. drain., do yourself a favor and try not to tax your system even further.

And whether you’re in cheesy carb heaven via your hotel menu or your family’s holiday gathering, there are probably some yummy raw fruits and veggies hiding somewhere nearby. (Pro tip: If you suspect there won’t be any particularly healthy items on the holiday buffet table, offer to bring one. Everybody loves a roasted beet salad, amirte?)

  1. Get some exercise.

No travel tip blog is complete without this one. But if it’s an overwhelming thought, just start simple. A 15-minute walk around the block takes literally 15 minutes. And you’ll get some fresh air at the same time, so that’s a bonus.

For more ambitious exercising without over-packing, check to see if your hotel chain offers cheap rentals on workout gear. Westin, for example, has a gear partnership with New Balance. For $5, you can rent shoes and clothing for your workout – which means you can pack that extra eucalyptus lotion and skip the yoga pants and sneakers.

  1. Take a minute to yourself.

FOMO is a temptress. It can be hard to resist joining every after-meeting dinner with your coworkers or every game of Scrabble with your brothers. But sometimes the best thing you can do for other people is reconnect with yourself and come back fresh.

Excuse yourself for 10 minutes to take a solo trip down Instagram lane – or, better yet, do some deep breathing with an app like Headspace.

And if after all this you’re still wiped out at the end of a good trip, don’t beat yourself up about it. There’s no shame in going to bed at 8pm in your own timezone.


Day 30: The Note

When I moved back to Minnesota for the second time (there have been many times), I funded my volunteer internship at a nonprofit arts organization by working at the front desk of a downtown hotel. Travel can be a little discombobulating, so for 32–40 hours each week, it was my  job to be nice to people and help them find things. In my tenure, I found lost watches, lost phone chargers, misplaced luggage, a couple of kids, restaurants, “that one building with the red sign,” extra towels, lost wallets, room keys and sunglasses. I also found a number of lost purses.

One afternoon, a woman arrived fairly frazzled. When I asked for a credit card “for incidental charges,” she realized she left her purse in the cab she took from the airport—but she couldn’t remember which cab company she used. I let her know it would be fine and made a few phone calls. A few minutes later, the cabbie was on his way back to the hotel, purse in-hand.

I didn’t think about it again until later that week when my manager gave me a note the woman left at the front desk when she departed. I still have it. Her words have stuck with me over the years because she helped me truly understand the powerful effect our everyday actions have on others.

I’ve typed the note below. It’s a reminder to me (and hopefully to you) to take some extra care with people this year and next. Be kind. Be respectful. Be patient if they’re a little difficult or upset. Listen. Smile. A seemingly insignificant exchange may make a big difference to someone.

The Note

To: Hotel Manager
May 12, 2005


I arrived this afternoon and inadvertently left my purse in the cab that brought me from the airport. Of course, I felt complete and utter panic.

Ashleigh greeted me and was immediately sympathetic, helpful and reassuring. She took complete charge of the situation—called around to cab companies and facilitated the speedy return of my purse and all associated belongings. I am so grateful for her gracious and effective assistance.

What she had no way of knowing is that this is my first business trip since being diagnosed with breast cancer about three weeks ago, so I came into the situation already feeling rather vulnerable. She didn’t know that—or me—but her care and concern were genuine and her tactics flawless. My appreciation extends to her manager and company for creating an environment where she was able and willing to be of great and immediate service.

Please thank her profusely.


Our interaction was probably no more than five minutes long, but it meant something to her. And her response—the note—means something to me still.

However you celebrate your holiday this year, spread a little love around to the strangers.