Jen's 12 Road Warrior Survival Tips

Posted by Jen Tong on February 24, 2016

I travel for work a lot. Sometimes I’m on the road 50% or even 80%. I love exploring new places, but travel can be hard on your physical and mental health. I’ve finally gotten to a place where I feel like I’m traveling healthy, so I thought I’d share. All that and, I’ve always wanted to write a listicle.

Here’s my advice, in no particular order.

Backpack > roll-aboard

Find an awesome backpack. One with a detachable belt. One that looks normal holding just your laptop, but also expands to handle great feats of holding. Then, learn to pack light: so light that you can find fit all of your stuff in your awesome backpack. Here’s why:

  • Stairs are everywhere in this three dimensional world. They’re much easier to conquer with your stuff on your back.
  • The day will come when you want to grab a coffee on your way from the airport to the hotel. Then you’ll get lost and need to use your smartphone map. Good thing you aren’t dragging a roll-aboard bag, or you’d have to ditch your awesome coffee to free up a hand.

Modular packing

Take a few of those reusable, trendy tote bags that usually carry your whole foods shopping, and put your clothes into one. Put your packed shoes into another. Put them all into your awesome backpack.

  • Your bag is going to get searched at some point. Having a few modules in there instead of a pile of 100 things makes repacking much easier.
  • When you’re at your destination, you can use them for shopping!
  • As your journey continues, you can use one for dirty laundry.

Always pack swim clothes

They don’t take up much space, and hot tubs are awesome after a long flight.

Running out of clean undies sucks

Pack extra. If you run out somehow, just buy more. Buying more is cheaper than hotel laundry

Packing retrospectives

I just gave you some packing advice, but that’s all based on my travel. As you travel, you’ll discover your own needs. You’ll also remember what you miss right after you get home. So, when you get home, empty your bag. Note why you missed. Separate out the things you didn’t use. Adjust your mental checklist to the trip you just finished while your memory is still clear.

Pack when you get home

You’re home! You unpacked. Time to relax, right? Nope. Do laundry if you need to, and repack your awesome backpack right away.

  • Your memory is still fresh from the last trip: you’ll remember to grab the stuff you forgot.
  • You never know when you’ll need to rush out the door in the future. Imagine how much less stressful it will be if you don’t need to worry about packing.

Grocery stores have healthy food in them

You might have a restaurant friendly expense account. You might be stuck in a hotel in the middle nowhere. In any case, find a way to get to a grocery store. Buy whatever it is you need to maintain your healthy diet. I stock up on fresh fruit and room temperature friendly veggies. I end up eating these for a meal or two each day. I come home much less squishy than if I had eaten out every meal, and I save a bunch of money.

Bodyweight fitness rocks

There are a bunch of great free mobile apps, YouTube playlists, and Internet forums dedicated to something called body weight fitness. Embrace them. You will find a time when you need exercise and there is no gym available. You can do most of this stuff anywhere with no special equipment.

But, one warning, don’t try to learn handstands when you’re in a 3rd floor hotel room. Your jarring dismounts are going to make the person below you very sad, or very worried.

Aim to excel, accept normalcy

I just discussed eating right and staying active: you know, the kind of stuff they keeps you healthy. You probably have a normal pattern. Maybe you play basketball a couple nights each week. Aim for double that while you’re on the road. Stuff will come up, and you’ll fall off the healthy wagon. If you already did your two active days earlier in the week, your busy spells will do less damage.

Hotel loyalty matters too

Hotel chain loyalty programs are not as glamorous as airline frequent flyer programs,

and their list of perks isn’t as long, but I find them more valuable for happiness on the road. Once you’ve racked up the stays, the hotels will start to find ways to make your stay more comfortable that aren’t on the list of guaranteed perks. Maybe they’ll give you early check in after that red eye flight, or a comp breakfast. These things seem minor, but they sure do add up.

Take pictures of your hotel doors

The hotels are all going to start looking the same, especially if you’re loyal to a hotel chain. So, when you first enter your room, take a photo of the room number placard next to the door with your smartphone. Now you never have to waste valuable memory on your hotel room number.

Have a bed bug prevention plan

Finally, the fun one. Did I say fun? I meant awful.

Bed bugs exist. Even if you only stay at five star luxury hotels, sooner or later you will encounter one of these evil bugs. The worst part: if there’s only one you might not notice it until your home, and the last 14 hotels you visited, are hit. Don’t let this happen. Have a plan.

  • When you first arrive, drop your stuff in the bathroom, not the bed.
  • Learn about how to check rooms for signs. Use your smartphone flashlight to check carefully.
  • Assume that you will have stowaways. Quarantine your stuff away from your bedroom until you’re sure it’s clean. Heat is a great way to achieve his: bedbugs hate heat. My friends in hot places leave their bags in the hot car over weekend. I use a commercial bedbug oven thinggy.

So there it is, my listicle of travel survival advice. If you have any awesome travel hacks of your own, please share! If this helped you out, let me know that too :) Ping me on Twitter: @MimmingCodes