Road Warrior: Taking Care of Yourself During Holiday Travel

When I followed my dream to become a full-time writer, I soon realized I had signed up to be a full-time traveler. Bookstores, festivals, classroom visits—I am always on the road. With more than 50 events looming in the year ahead, I’ve had to get serious about maintaining my sanity, soul, and waistline while on the go. Here are a few hard-earned tips in case you need to summon your inner Road Warrior.

Don’t give in to the French fry diet. Travel consists of sitting still for hours at a time…yet it makes us hungry. Whether you’re battling boredom or trying to energize, don’t give in to fast food binges. I like to travel with natural, healthy foods that lend themselves to being eaten one-handed while behind the wheel: raw almonds, melba toasts, blueberries, strips of bell pepper, sugar snap peas. Need something more complex? Pack a frozen meal on ice, and warm it in the microwave easily found at most gas station convenience stores.

Plan your trip in print. An itinerary may seem old-fashioned in the age of smart phones and GPS systems. But for big trips I type out my day-by-day appointments, directions, confirmation numbers, and contact info, all formatted to fit on a single page that I can carry around in my purse. My family appreciates the record, since I often travel alone, and so much stress is eliminated by not trying to drive with one hand and Google with the other. When I get home, I staple relevant receipts to the itinerary and Voila!—a detailed record for tax filing.

Pack smart—but pack for your heart, too. I’ll let others offer tips on practical shoes and vacuum-sealed sweaters. My advice? If you’re going to a big conference, bring your own unique tote bag so that it sticks out in the crowd. If you’re traveling on the cheap, pack a favorite soft towel to cover any scratchy pillowcases. And if you’re going to be away for a while, pack a colorful sentimental item that can warm up a generic room. Lately I’ve been traveling with a felt owl I sewed by hand, a memento of a night out with my sister at DC’s Textile Museum.

Sandra’s tips aren’t just for writers! Keep this advice in mind during holiday travel season! How do you pack smart and stay healthy on the road or in the air?


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