The little things that matter on the road

I, the nurse, have my own little things I do when traveling. Call them hacks, if you like, to me they mean comfort, security, and survival. And coffee.

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Conrad Bali came with all the luxury we needed, 2014.
  • I use a night guard for some serious teeth grinding problems, and since it needs to be sanitized quite often, I carry a load of Corega Tabs meant for old people’s dentures to clean them. Just 3 minutes in water with one tablet in it (has to be drinking water, never use tab water that’s not drinkable for cleaning anything that goes into your mouth) and I can use it. Easy to get my “dentures” clean anywhere, since all I need is a cup of water and small container. I also wear the guard as often as possible, it really helps preventing stiff neck on a plane or train, too. Plus the added bonus of them looking pretty funny.
  • I’m a serious serial coffee abuser. However, it is not rare to get into a place where it is not easily available in the mornings (just kill me now..). Most hotels provide small pouches of instant coffee (instant poison…) and a water heater in the room. Since the enginerd doesn’t drink coffee, I always put aside all the unused pouches before the maintenance comes to clean the room and refill the complimentary items’ tray. That way I get one or two extra pouches every day. Later, when we get to let’s say an Airbnb flat where I can get hot water but there is no coffeemaker, I have my own little stash of instant coffee. This means I don’t have to go and buy a huge jar of it just to throw it away before packing my overloaded bags again.
  • I also do the aforementioned thing to tea bags, sugar, honey, etc. I hate hotel soaps, but I always keep the shower caps and nail files, as well as vanity kits.
  • Stretching. It’s a habit I started years ago when I was still living in Beijing. All the flights I took were several hours long and a literal pain in the ass (and back). To prevent that, I used to stretch my legs, biceps, etc., there’s no special routine, I just stretched whatever felt tense. I still do it before boarding, and during the flight, as well.

  • No hairdryer? Let Mother Nature do the blow-drying for you. I, after long negotiations, settled with only bringing my hair straightener to our round the world trip in 2014, and you know, I survived just fine (once again, gasps in shock).
  • Talking about hair, as mentioned above, I always bring my hair straightener with me. I and the enginerd usually  travel to warmer atmosphere, so there really is no need for a hairdryer thanks to the wind and sun. However, having a naturally curly and dry as heck hair, straightening my hair is a super fast way to titivate. (Yeah, I just learned that word, and am now determined to use it as much as possible.) Most hotels also provide  a blow-dryer at least on request. My straightener is an old AF GHD, and it has faithfully straightened my hair since 2008, lived with me in China, and traveled to Africa and around the world. Works when there is electricity. When there is no power, you’re very likely to be in a place where grooming really doesn’t matter.
  • Miscellar water and cotton swabs. No need to say more.
  • I always have a pencil and Sudoku magazines at hand. There is really no place where you couldn’t do them, and the best part about Sudoku is that you can get them anywhere, as there is really no language barrier.
  • I swear by compression socks. I don’t use the flight socks they sell you at the airports, for they tend to be very very very ugly, but rely on knee high running socks. These are a gift from gods on long flights, as they keep you warm and your legs comfortable. Sometimes I wear them in the evening to reduce the swelling there might be after walking in the sun the whole day. They tend to be super expensive, but also long-lasting. Mine are always bought at discount, since I can’t really afford paying 60€ for a pair of socks. But I love them. They are my babies. I love them almost as much as coffee.

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    Bring something to read to keep you entertained.
  • I take aspirin before long flights. I am not really at risk for deep vain thrombosis, but one can’t never be too sure. Ask your health care provider or pharmacist for the correct dosage. (A lot of asthmatics can’t tolerate aspirin. If you’re one of them, don’t use it.)
  • Flying makes you feel dirty, your skin dry and breath smell super bad. Especially the long ones. I tend to bring an extra set of clothes with me in my carry-on, including undies and socks. I also bring a toothbrush and tooth paste. If you’re short on space in your max 1000 ml clear resealable bag for liquids, just add a bit of the paste on your toothbrush and stick the brushy end in a small bag. This way you’ll have a method of cleaning that in-flight coffee, beer and too little water induced stinky mouth. The clothes and toothbrush also help you survive over the next few days after your stuff gets lost or stolen. (Helped me hugely when all my stuff was stolen on my way to New York from Michigan years ago. Had my carry-on with me, and ended up staying with a random, and truly awesome student girl for one night in Manhattan. Lost contact with her later, but still remember her and still remain grateful. I am also grateful for the extra clothes, money, travel documents, medicine and small sleeping bag I had managed to stuff in my carry-on bag. )
  • Never, ever would I wear jeans and/or high heels on a plane. I wear as comfortable clothes as possible. The extra set of clothes ensures that after spending 8 hours on a flight in my PJ’s or sweatpants (yet another great way to survive), I still get to look nice and tidy and ready to hang out when I get off the plane. Like, as nice and tidy as possible. After all, unless you fly Emirates’ first class, you’re bound to look a bit scrubby after a long flight.

How about you? What keeps you comfortable, cozy and caffeinated on the road? Let us know in the comments!

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