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5 Tried and True Tips for Traveling Light

November 19, 2013


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Over the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of flying and traveling for work. First, it was the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest in Las Vegas for five days. Then, five days later it was back on the plane for a quick 28 hour trip to New York for a satellite media tour with Pillsbury. Next week, we’ll be off again, this time for Thanksgiving with family in Idaho. Truth be told, travel isn’t my favorite thing in the world. Sure, I love seeing new places and visiting family, but the whole travel process wears me out.

One thing I think I have mastered along the way is the art of packing light. For many years I was a horrible over-packer. I would take a giant suitcase and stuff it with everything I liked in my closet. Then, in 2007, my mom, cousin and I took a trip to Spain for 10 days. My mom mandated that I only take a carry-on suitcase for ease and to avoid our luggage getting lost. After that trip, I was a changed woman! Now, it’s very rare that I’ll ever take anything more than a small carry-on suitcase. Or, in the case of our trip to Italy, a large backpack.

Here are a few of my favorite trips for traveling light on the road:

1. Keep a Stash of Mini Toiletries Handy
I used to always have to run to Target before a trip to get all the mini 3-oz or less toiletries I needed for my carry-on. Sometimes I would be short on time and end up having to check my bag because I didn’t have smaller versions of my favorite products on hand. Now, I keep a basket in our linen closet filled with small containers of my favorite shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, mousse, eye cream, etc. It’s a little more expensive, but totally worth it to have smaller versions of the items I already use at home. Also, keep those small samples of products you receive when buying make-up. They come in handy for short trips!

2. Wear Your Bulkiest Items
Right now I’m writing this as I fly home from New York. I’ve got on my coat and tall brown boots. For this short trip, I packed super light, only carrying-on a large purse, which meant no room for a coat or boots. Wearing these items will help keep you warm on the plane and save space.

3. Stick with a Color Palette 
I’m sure that the brown flats you have and the black heels you  just bought are super cute, but it makes a lot more sense to stick with a single color scheme when packing light. Usually I try to either go with brown OR black to keep coordination easy. That way, I don’t need a black belt and a brown belt, or a black cardigan and a tan cardigan, etc.

4. Limit Your Shoes
Shoes are the biggest space hog, so try to pack shoes that will get multiple wears. I always bring a pair of super comfortable flats, shoes for working out and either a pair of tall boots for the winter or sandals in the summer. Keep the heels at home unless you know you’ll need them for a very specific purpose. If I’m really crunched on space, I’ll leave my workout shoes at home and do a yoga workout or something similar in my hotel room instead.

5. Learn to Live Without
Once upon a time I thought I needed to be perfectly dressed for every vacation. Okay, sometimes I still do, but I’m working on letting that go! When we were in Italy, there were a bunch of times when I had to wear something that was less than 100% clean, was stretched out or wasn’t perfectly suited for the occasion. In the past that would have totally bothered me. Now days, I try to just roll with it. Sure, it would be great to have endless options to choose from, but at what price? For me, the trade-off of being able to fly light, not have to pay for a bag and not have to worry about my luggage getting lost is totally worth having to wear something twice.

Do you have any tips to share for packing and traveling light? Share them below! 

More Smart Travel Eats

October 26, 2011
{Completely unrelated picture of Nutmeg in her new winter coat. She was feeling bad she hasn’t been on the blog lately.}

Since I’ve been doing quite a bit of traveling over the past few months, I thought I would share with you a few more of my favorite healthy eats while on the road and in airports. Although I wish I was the type of person who planned ahead of time and brought a lot of healthy snacks and meals with me, I’m usually rushing out of the house at the last minute trying to get as much done as possible.

Here are a few of my favorite stops and what I typically order:

1. Smoothie King
I wish every airport I traveled to had a Smoothie King. I grew up making frequent stops at this place with my dad and know I can always find something healthy and packed with protein.

Favorite Pick: The Vanilla Shredder (20 oz) is my go-to drink and has 283 calories, 36 grams of protein, and just 12 grams of sugar. I pair mine with either a banana or a granola bar for a bit more substance if I’m using it as a meal replacement.

2. Starbucks
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Starbucks comes through for me every single time. They recently rolled out a new line of salads in addition to their sandwiches, which can be a lifesaver when you need a dose of leafy greens.

Favorite Pick: In the morning, I always go with the oatmeal with fruits and nuts and pair it with a small soy latte. Side note: at hotels, I ask for extra packets of peanut butter to stash in my purse. It makes a great addition to oatmeal and adds a few grams of protein.

Runner Up: The Protein Bistro Box at Starbucks is my runner-up for when I’m craving something savory. It comes with a few wedges of cheddar cheese, a hard-boiled egg, whole grain pita, peanut butter and apples, all for just 380 calories.

3. Cosi 
You have no idea how desperately I wish we had a Cosi in Iowa! So whenever I’m in a city that has one, I never fail to stop by. Their soups, sandwiches and flat bread are all delicious and they offer plenty of veg-friendly options.

Favorite Pick: Their soups rotate every day, but my faves are the Three Bean Chili or the Moroccan Lentil Soup. It comes with an order of whole grain flatbread and I typically order a side of hummus for healthy dipping.

4. Panda Express
Things got really desperate a while back when Joey and I were on our way home from visiting my family in Idaho in September. Stuck in an airport terminal in Denver that had very few options, I was faced with either eating a protein bar from a new stand or Panda Express. Since Joey was eating Panda Express and I was really craving something warm (and some veggies) I went with it, too. I was pleasantly surprised at the options.

Favorite Pick: I went with a double order of steamed veggies (70 calories) and paired it with steamed rice (380 calories) and two veggie spring rolls (160 calories for two). Not exactly health food, but it hit the spot and was definitely more satisfying than a granola bar or trail mix.

What are you favorite places to eat while on the road?