Systems for Success

Assorted mobile phone chargers and adaptersI have been traveling a lot recently. Mostly I love to travel, even if it’s just to visit family or to attend conferences. Unfortunately there are two parts of traveling that stress me out:

1. Driving off of Long Island (which requires either a ferry ride or a trip through the outskirts of New York City).

2. Packing.

At this point, there’s not a lot I can do about my location or making New York City roads less crowded. So I’ll focus on my issues with packing.

In the years before I had kids, travel was pretty easy. All I needed was my clothing and something to read. This was followed by two decades of traveling with children and pets, during which I counted my blessings if I remembered my clothing and, if I brought a book, had time to glance at it.

Now I’m once again traveling solo and keep waiting for it to get easy again. Except it’s not. Because now I have to pack electronics (phone, camera, laptop, kindle, GPS) and all of their associated chargers. Plus I now take daily medications. And, because I’m no longer a fresh-faced 20-year-old, cosmetics are also required.

Because I’m on a gluten-free diet (due to celiac disease), I must also pack food. This is particularly necessary when I go to conferences, where there are pastries for breakfast (not gluten-free) and wraps for lunch (also not gluten-free). So I end up bringing cheese, nuts and protein bars so that I don’t starve during the day. If I have a hotel room with a fridge, I travel with a toaster for my gluten-free bread (which I also bring with me) and a mini-blender for my morning protein shakes. (Yes, I travel with shake mix too.) Nobody can accuse me of traveling light!

Yesterday, I was talking to a friend and admitted how much I hate packing. She also travels frequently and shared her secret. She uses an app called Simple Grocery List and keeps her packing lists on her phone. Rather than creating a new list before every trip, she has a system that includes separate packing lists for business and pleasure trips. She even has a list for items she needs to bring when she boards her dogs! It’s easy! She pulls out her phone, clicks on the appropriate items, and knows that she’s leaving the house without forgetting anything.

This is the kind of system that makes our lives (and our businesses) run well. I installed the app and added items to the list as I was packing. Knowing that I have a system in place that will make future trips a whole lot less stressful.

Today, blog about a system that makes your business (or life) easier.


Gluten-Free Travel Trials

Gluten-free Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Blue Sky and Clouds.After 13 years of being gluten-free (no wheat, barley or rye) because of celiac disease, I am smart enough to travel with my own food. This morning is Day 5 in hotels and I went to check out their free breakfast. While the cereal, pastries and waffles might be wonderful for the average traveler, there was absolutely no option (except coffee) for anyone who is can’t tolerate gluten.

Add to the fact we’re in a different country (Canada) that has different formulations. Here they put wheat flour in ham (don’t ask me why) and also in salad dressings. So sometimes our “safe” gluten-free choices are out of the question.

I did pack a cooler full of safe foods. Then I discovered that our first hotel, whose online information said all rooms had fridges, did not have a fridge. So we were dumping buckets of ice into our cooler so food wouldn’t spoil. That doesn’t add any fun to the travel experience.

My mom and I are planning a bus trip in a few months. Already I am concerned about what I will eat when I have limited luggage and no choice about restaurants. While some restaurants are awesome about serving gluten-free foods, many others offer nothing I can eat. So, rather than looking forward to the trip, I’m anticipating how I’ll deal with my food issues.

Today, blog about challenges you face when you travel and how you overcome them.