There is something pretty awesome about midlife travel, whether you go it alone or with your significant other or your best girlfriends. Don’t get me wrong, I loved traveling as a young woman, when I was mostly concerned about what my hair looked like (although I do wonder what I missed while I was looking for a mirror). I even loved traveling during that phase of my life when I was carting baby strollers and diaper bags and sleeping toddlers on my shoulders. It was all an adventure, and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.
But travel at this stage of my life has its perks. I can stop and read the signs in the museum. Sometimes there are white linen tablecloths instead of coloring pages for placemats. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become much more concerned with comfort and safety than in necessarily looking cute, which is better for everyone. Really. Now that I am past the dumb phase of life where I believed “it can never happen to me,” I realize that in an emergency, I would have died in some of the stupid shoes I wore on airplanes. I either would have twisted an ankle trying to get off the plane and been trampled to death, or I would have punctured a hole in that big inflatable slide with my heels and killed myself and all of my fellow passengers. Not smart.
My personal must-have items
As they say, with experience comes wisdom. I have a few things that I’ve collected over the years that have become absolutely essential for my travel comfort, either en route or in the hotel. Here are the top five items that I won’t leave home without:
Now that most airlines have done away with decent snacks, I always bring my own goodies. I got tired of cleaning up little bits of crushed flotsam and jetsam on the bottom of my bag, so I started carrying a clothespin with me so I can seal up my packs of pretzel crisps. I’ve also found it handy when staying in a hotel room where the curtains don’t exactly meet in the middle, and for closing up half-used packets of hair mask. Oh yeah, and if you actually do laundry in your bathroom sink, it could come in handy there too.
Folding Tray with Snaps
This has been my absolute favorite travel item for years. It weighs next to nothing and folds up flat. When I get to the hotel, I snap it up and put it on the dresser to hold my jewelry, room keys, loose change, etc. I never have to worry about leaving some little thing behind, and it keeps my hotel room a bit neater. Win-win!
Have you ever shared a cute AirB&B with your friends and pulled the short straw, so you ended up with the bathroom that had a tiny pedestal sink and no counter space? I hate throwing my stuff on the floor or trying to jam it onto the towel rack. This cute little basket folds up flat and can be used to cart makeup, hairdryer, flat iron, etc. back and forth from bedroom to bath.
I am not exactly a germophobe, but hotel room carpets freak me out (and not just because they are always so ugly!). I always bring a yoga towel so I can do a few poses, some sit-ups, or some pre-run stretches. It’s thinner and lighter than an actual yoga mat, and long enough that I don’t have to worry about my head and feet touching the icky floor while I’m in Savasana.
I don’t even want to think about how many expenses I didn’t turn in for reimbursement or my taxes because I lost the receipt. I started carrying a reusable plastic envelope with me just for this. Every night, I take all the receipts out of my wallet, pockets, and the bottom of my purse – whether I think I’m going to need them or not – so that I can sort through them at home. You could also just use a plastic baggie, but the reusable one is sturdier and better for the environment.
Like just about everything else in life, it gets a little easier as you go along if you are willing to learn from your experience – and that of others! Now I’d love to hear from you! What are the must-have travel items in your bag? Leave a comment below and let’s make the journey a little more enjoyable for everyone!