on the road survival guide
This summer was so much fun, living in Santa Fe and having friends and family visit. To finish up the current project Joshua is working on, we're staying in Scottsbluff, Nebraska for a few weeks. Instead of our charming Santa Fe casita, we're in a hotel. Sans kitchen. In a small town. In the middle of nowhere. No weekend farmer's market or Whole Foods in sight. Just Safeway and Walmart folks. As I write this, I can literally hear cows moo-ing outside my window.
I don't want to complain too much, I do love seeing new places, the good and the bad, and the community here has welcomed us with open arms. Many people prefer the charm and pace of a small town, i's just not something I've ever experienced before, and it can be a bit stuffy at times. Alas, we'll be home next week with a greater appreciation for living in southern California (most of the year) where there's diversity, abundant produce and fresh fare.
Of course, I sort of knew what we were getting into here, and planned accordingly. We've done hotel living in the past and I know the drill by now. If anything, I've upped my game and have established quite the homey environment in these Nebraskan digs...given the circumstances.
Many of you also travel for work, or for one reason or another, so I thought I'd share some tips, a survival guide of sorts, for keeping your routine and creating a more warm and comforting environment while away from home. If your destination is a big city, you inevitably have more options for things like coffee, food and exercise. And, depending on where you're staying and for how long, you might be able to adapt with less effort. For us, in this instance, we're so far away from the culture and food that we're accustomed to.
Because we travel frequently, we have a kit with our basic essentials. Inevitably, we end up supplementing--you can't bring it all. Most items on this survival guide can be purchased at a Target-esque store. Some of the tips may be more or less relevant to you, so please adjust according to your own traveling circumstances.
c o f f e e
Coffee is my numero uno, only second to wine, and followed closely by food. If you don't have a decent coffee shop close by, or you're a coffee snob like us, bring your own coffee accoutrements to make a pour over in the morn'. I do love exploring new coffee places, it's like my favorite thing, but I need that first cup before going out into the world...just something about that first cup...
Here are the things you'll need for the pour over method, give or take. If you don't have space in your luggage you can buy some of these things inexpensively and then donate them to a local shelter, church or Salvation Army at the end of your trip. Or, keep them in a travel kit for future use! You can also save some room by measuring out your servings ahead of time (leave the scale at home) and pre-grinding your beans (although this takes away from the freshness...but hey, better than hotel coffee!).
- coffee beans of choice, these are my favorite
- coffee vessel or beaker. I purchased a glass bottle with a high heat tolerance, pictured below, on sale for about $2 at Target. We don't like to bring our usual one, as it's delicate and breaks easily. If you're making coffee for one, then you can skip this item and just use a mug or cup and drip the coffee right in there (see this post for instructions on making a pour over).
- mugs or you can use the paper cups they provide at the hotel--I personally can taste the paper in my coffee so I always opt to use ceramic or glass. I purchased the initialed mugs pictured below (they added a nice, homey touch don't you think?!) on sale for about $4 total at Target.
- scale to measure beans, or alternatively measure your beans ahead of time; we use this one, but you don't have to be so fancy about it.
- grinder or grind beans in advance, we use this small grinder when we travel
- small electric kettle. If you're traveling to Europe, they usually have them in the hotels, not so much in the States. Joshua and I just keep one to travel with, they're relatively inexpensive.
- coffee add-ons (i.e. half and half, alternative milk) can be purchased when you arrive
f o o d + e s s e n t i a l s
Depending on your accommodations (if you have a kitchen or not) or the city you're traveling to, your options may be limitless or nichts. Right now, our options are nichts. Either way, bring along snacks and food to eat in case of a emergency. I usually do a Google search and locate the health food stores in the area and restaurants that can accommodate our dietary needs. For this trip, I actually went out and bought a cheap toaster for our hotel room. I had three loaves of this bread delivered and have been making avocado toast e-ryday (no judgement please, desperate times call for desperate measures!). I make the walnut pesto, to slather on our avo-toast, on weekends when we travel and have a kitchen.
Another necessary item for traveling is Natural Calm Plus Calcium (I prefer the raspberry-lemon flavor). I have to credit my friend Amber here, she introduced me to traveling with small Calm packets. I usually take it once a day, in the morning or afternoon, but some people prefer to take it at night. Although I usually bring the small packets if we're traveling for a short period of time, in this case, I bought a container of it since we're here for a while. If you have issues of regularity (wink wink), this stuff will solve that issue. I also take it pretty regularly even when we're not on the road.
I collect jars here and there when I'm traveling, usually from a juice place, to use as drinking cups, wine glasses, or flower vases. They always come in handy and can be disposed of, guilt-free, at the end of a trip. Below is a list of items and snacks I tend to buy at my destination, or take with me. Most of them are easy to prepare or can be eaten as is.
- organic brown rice cakes topped with almond butter and sea salt
- energy bites if I have time to make them beforehand and am able to travel with them. They do need to be kept cold, so if you aren't in a position to regulate the temperature in, for example, a cold bag, then enjoy them on your first day of travel.
- apples or some seasonal fruit that travels well
- dark chocolate
- avocados & bread
- fresh olives
- selection of cheeses
- goji berries
- vitamin B complex
- Natural Calm Plus Calcium packets or if I'm staying longer, a jar as shown above
t o i l e t r i e s + s u p p l i e s
Whatever I bring in terms of toiletries and supplies, I bring them knowing that I may have to part with them at some point, especially if I'm traveling by plane and/or abroad. The day before my trip, I go through my morning and evening routine, packing things as I go, and living out of my travel bag for a day. I usually take a bottle of Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Liquid Soap, or purchase it at my destination. It can be used as shampoo (for us humans and our dogs, Billy & Lola), dish soap, hand soap, body wash, vegetable wash, all-purpose cleaner, laundry detergent, face wash, etcetera, etcetera...I also get sanitizing wipes; I like to wipe down the surfaces of any place I'm staying in. They also come in handy when making coffee or eating snacks in a hotel room. To recap, here is a list of items mentioned above plus some other useful things:
- toiletries used in your morning and evening routine (makeup, hair brush, hair styling products, hair ties and clips, face wash, lotion, medications, shampoo/conditioner, etc.)
- Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Soap (I love the lavender or rose-scented kind)
- wet sanitizing wipes
- glass jars collected from juice places, etc.
- biodegradable storage baggies for food or what have you
- compostable plates and cutlery, such as these, they also sell some version at Whole Foods or any natural food store
- paper towels
d e c o r + a m b i e n c e
Depending on if you're staying at an Airbnb, five diamond hotel or the Holiday Inn Express, some personal touches may help to make you feel more at home. A candle can go a long way in freshening up a space and creating a warmer environment. I bought a soy candle on sale at Target, here in Scottsbluff, but I usually carry along some of my own small candles--these and these are my favorite.
It's also nice to put some greens or flowers in your room. I used a glass juice jar that I had lying around, and Joshua picked some budding sage at a location where he was working, oh Joshua. The smell of the sage engulfs the room and if I close my eyes it seems like I'm somewhere else just for a moment.
We bought a cheap blanket at the Spanish Market in Santa Fe and brought it with us for sunset picnics...we also use it as a throw on our bed. Just as a caution, always be sure to wash any blankets before taking them back home.
We purchased an Instax camera last year for our wedding and since then, we take it everywhere we go. It provides an instant photo--we like hang them up in all the places we stay.
Here's a list of items mentioned above:
- blanket or throw (always launder before bringing it back home)
- Instax or instant camera or pictures of family, friends and loved ones to display
If you acquire more items than you want to bring home, see if there's a local shelter or church in the area, or a Salvation Army or any organization that accepts donations.
As a bonus, it's always nice to bring along a companion or furry friend on your journey!