This summer job has made me a road warrior. I spend four days each week on the road. Every Thursday night I appear at home with dirty laundry and Monday by 6, I am heading out for another week of work. Organization is everything in this kind of lifestyle to make sure you take everything you need when you leave home for work. Many of the places I visit don’t have much more than a couple of restaurants/bars, a gas station and a grocery store. No place to buy socks if you forget to pack them.
The surprising but indispensable travel item for me this summer has been my collection of eBags packing cubes. As a sewer I seriously thought about trying to personally engineer a collection, but in the end I bought mine. I love them. My bag has a certain number and size of cubes. On Sunday, I pull them out and pack each of them and when they are all back in my luggage it means I am ready to go. Some of my cubes have a spare pair of socks or underwear in them to remind me of what goes in each. For this job each cube holds one of the five pieces of clothing I put on each day, but I used to be a business suit traveler and think that each cube could just as easily carry your daily outfit. There is nothing worse than the last day of a professional business trip and realizing you wore the wrong blouse with the wrong suit and the one left does not match the suit you intend to wear tomorrow. Ranger Sir and I will sometimes travel with just one bag if we go for a night or two. It is not usually a pleasant experience. I am thinking a second set of cubes in his own color may solve that problem. Shop around for your set because the amount the retailers are asking you to pay varies widely.
Everyone has their favorite bag for toiletries based on what they want and need. Most of us take some supplies from home. My favorite choice for this is the GoToob products. First reason for recommending this product is that it is easy to fill. It actually has an opening you can put shampoo in without it traveling all down the sides. Second is they stand behind the product no questions. I broke a top, emailed them and I got a new top. It is a one time purchase. Lastly if you travel via airlines it was designed with that in mind. The only negative is it is designed with words like soap, shampoo, lotion, conditioner on the neck. Without my glasses in the shower I can read that stuff, so I had to shop around to get assorted colors to work for me. In spite of that I really do like these the best of all the travel containers I have ever owned.
The fabric I used in this pillowcase always makes me smile because it is so crazy unexpected.
My last recommendation is a pillow case from home. I have made a collection of bright don’t forget me pillow cases, but anything will do. Pillow cases from home can be used to cover and double up hotel pillows to simulate your personal pillow. Pillowcases from home can also be used to keep your face and skin away from the harsh hotel laundry soaps. It also puts another barrier between you and the pillow that hundreds of others have slept on. Lastly this is what I put all my dirty clothes in to take them home. It is like having a personal laundry bag to keep your dirty clothes from soiling your luggage and anything you may have clean left in your bag for your next stop in your travels.
What do you do with those little mini one use size bottles and bars of soap you get in hotel rooms? Most folks who travel regularly already have a bag with their personal toiletries. We bring from home our preferred personal care products for an assortment of reasons. You like to use the same face cleanser you use at home. You are trying to get the most mileage from your last salon visit and use a special shampoo and conditioner. You may have sensitivities to ingredients or scents. No matter what the reason those little bottles either go unused or worse yet brought home and still never used. There is an alternative. Bring them home and turn them in to a local shelter. You can collect all those little odds and ends in a box in your home and turn them in a couple times a year to a shelter. That is what I used to do when I lived in Minneapolis years ago and traveled lots.
This job has put me back on the road tons and once again. I found myself collecting hotel toiletries. I got to thinking about the local woman’s shelter, and how I imagined many of them left with little and what extra they did take was likely for someone else, their kids. I know that organizations that help folks in these circumstances are prepared to help and work with people who leave with just the clothes on their back. They have donations and supplies that they give out to the folks they help, and the folks they are helping are probably keeping things in garbage and zip lock bags. It inspired me to take a different approach to my travel goodies this year. Rather than just turn them in, I wanted to put together not only a travel kit, but a bag that might be used to keep things together for them. I know how much I appreciated my travel bag that keeps all my personal care products together.
First I had to make or buy the bags for this use. I had some odds and ends of fabric from quilts I had made, zippers from projects planned never finished and some quality vinyl that I had no idea how it ended in my stash. I worked up a design and made personal toiletry bags. Each was unique, some bright and some with more subdued natural colors. All of them were designed to zip tight for storage. One side had the vinyl so that you could see all that was in the bags. It was a little bit of a trial, but I loved making them and seeing all the wonderful fabrics that were sitting around collecting dust take on a new life.
Once I had finished the bags, RangerSir and I loaded them up with the hotel goodies I had brought home this summer. It was then we then we realized that we had several collections of dental visit “prizes.” There were not enough dental kits to do all the bags, but we added them to as many bags as possible. This was the moment we realized it was in our power to make these more than a bag with hotel freebies in them. We headed to the local K-Mart to shop. We got darn lucky in that they had some full-sized toothpaste for $1 each. It was more than the travel size and less expensive. We had gotten nice things for less than we had planned to spend. We were now inspired and on a roll. We stocked up on single package toothbrushes. We found a dental floss on sale. We found multi-pack combs and bought a couple sets so we could tuck combs in each of the bags. RangerSir found travel pack Kleenex that I had not thought to include. Finally we added razors to each one.
My decked out travel bags for the women’s shelter
These bags will be going to a woman’s shelter here in the local county. I was thinking of lots of other things that could be added to my bags, but we know not if the recipient will be young or old, alone or in the company of family members. So I stopped and hope that this is enough to get a person started and know somewhere out there someone is thinking of them and wishing them the best in what is likely a very bad situation.
In my hotel, last week, there was a hang tag with a fox on it to encourage recycling. Really?!? Using a predator to encourage recycling what was the ad company thinking when they made this?? Have we gotten so far away from nature that people do not know that a fox is not some warm fuzzy animal. I know that right now I am a little tainted in my view of foxes, but seriously I think that they could have found some cute “nice” animal like a rabbit or fawn. Some sort of “helpless” creature that needs our help. A fox for the most part is smart enough to take care of itself.
Timing is everything. This well-intended, well-placed reminder caused shake my head in wonder. Not the good kind of wonder either.