Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

October 7, 2017

10 Ways I Stay Relaxed and Chill While Traveling for Work

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TimeWithAveeno #CollectiveBias

Today I’m spilling the beans on my secret job!  In February I landed a really interesting job but didn't share too many details because to even describe my new position would have revealed how much I was traveling and I always worry about giving too much of that kind of info away.  However, I recently decided to leave that job, so now I can comfortably tell you about it!  I'm saving some fun stories - and more juicy details - for another day, but today I'll at least let you know the gist: I worked as a freelance educational workshop facilitator in First Nations Communities.  I spent two weeks each month traveling to communities and delivering week long workshops about anger management, youth engagement, and emotional health.  Although some communities were actually close to a town or city and I could stay in a hotel or motel, other communities were really remote, fly-in places and there I often stayed in someone's home or a lodge where I shared a bathroom with a bunch of guys.  A lot of times there was no internet and in many communities my cell phone didn't work, so it was, at times, a really isolating experience.  Plus I had severe baggage weight restrictions (many planes were so small I couldn't even pack a carry on) and sometimes I had to pack my own food within that weight restriction (I learned to travel light, that's for sure)!  But I always made room in my luggage for a few little luxuries, like AVEENO® products from Walmart, to help me stay happy and relaxed traveling so much for work.  

Here were my must-haves for treating myself!



1. Scented Candle

When I stayed in private homes, they were always pretty immaculate but some of the lodge-type accommodations and motels were pretty old.  One room in particular smelled so terribly bad that I was forced to sleep with the door to my hotel room open all night (so unsafe!) and so, after that, I started packing a small scented candle or room deodorizer which, as it turned out, also helped me de-stress after a long and draining day.   

2. Good Book

I know e-readers are all the rage but I like to decompress in the evenings without a screen, so I always brought along one good old fashioned paperback.  I buy cheap books at yard sales specifically for traveling so I can leave them behind for the next weary traveler.

3. Warm Drink

I learned this from a co-worker, who always traveled with his favorite instant coffee.  I was used to just hitting up a local Starbucks whenever I traveled but that definitely wasn't an option for this line of work!  The places I stayed often had communal everything: bathroom, kitchen, living room, so I did often have the means to at least boil water and bringing my own fancy loose leaf tea or instant coffee/hot chocolate was such a nice treat in the evening and made me feel more at home.

4. Healthy Snack

Many communities had really limited food choices so I made sure to always pack my own snacks because having something to nibble on in the evening that reminded me of home was always a treat.  Plus I definitely did feel stressed after some workshops and without a healthy snack to rely on, I was weak and would have said yes to every doughnut and chocolate bar that crossed my path...

5. AVEENO PURE RENEWAL® Shampoo and Conditioner


My hair already takes a beating thanks to bleaching and dyeing it bright hues like hot pink, shades of teal and mint, or, heck, four different vivid colors at oncePlus the water was really harsh in some communities so I had to take special care to be gentle to my strands.  AVEENO PURE RENEWAL® Shampoo and Conditioner is creamy and gentle but effectively removes impurities while renewing my hair to a balanced state.  Plus it's clinically proven to be mild on sensitive skin and it's safe for color treated hair - which is a bonus, for sure.  I always decanted some of each in a travel sized bottle to take with me on the road.


6. Calling Card

It felt like the 1990s to have to track down a public phone.  When my cell service didn't cover in a particular area, it gave me peace of mind to know I could still connect with Hubby.  I still keep a calling card in my wallet just in case - you never know when a cell phone might give up the ghost.

7. Comfy Lounge Clothes

The first few trips I made I packed my (required) business casual attire and then some PJs for hanging out in my room - not realizing everyone would SEE them when I had to trek to the communal bathrooms.  I ended up buying PJs that weren't quite so thread bare but I also packed some comfy lounge clothes so I could hang out in common areas with ease.

8. Running Shoes

At first I was too nervous to wander around the communities (bears! blackflies!), but eventually I started to get cabin fever so I started packing running shoes and going for a walk or run every night.  I am not a runner, by any stretch of the imagination, but that daily exercise helped clear my mind and connect with people in the community so I always made room for my runners in my suitcase.  In my room I did some gentle stretching or yoga. 

9. Music

After I started traveling for work, I spent a good chunk of money and bought some music.  To save a penny, I usually listened to a lot of free music apps on my phone but they all required internet and I didn't have internet or data many places so I finally bought some songs which was definitely a sanity saver for me.  It was nice to block out the noise through paper thin walls and decompress.  Had I kept traveling for work, noise cancelling headphones was next on my list because those small planes are so LOUD. 

10. AVEENO® POSITIVELY RADIANT® 60 SECOND IN-SHOWER FACIAL

Did I mention the shared bathrooms?  It was, surprisingly, not as terrible as I imagined but there were some terrifying moments.  Sometimes I only had to share with women, but it was the unisex showers that still give me nightmares.  It definitely didn't leave time for much primping, but my skin was really taking a beating so the AVEENO® POSITIVELY RADIANT® 60 SECOND IN-SHOWER FACIAL is something I started using.  It works with the steam of a shower to deeply but gently exfoliate dirt, oil, and dead skin.  After piling on makeup every day (something I was not used to, working from home in my jammies as a blogger), spending a day in a sweaty meeting room, and trudging back to my room on a dirt road, only to wash my skin with harsh well water (treatment facilities really varied), my skin started to feel really awful.  This facial in a bottle worked like magic to make my skin feel velvety soft and naturally radiant.  I always showered at night, so taking 60 seconds to treat my skin at the end of a day felt like a luxury in my work environment and I'd shuffle back to my room feeling so content.  It's now a permanent staple in my shower at home, too, because I love that it only takes a minute and it exfoliates without leaving my skin feeling dry or stripped.


Those were my 10 must-haves for staying chill while traveling for work.  My job was such an unusual experience and, in some ways, I'm sad to have to have to search for something new but at least I can add "savvy traveler" to my list of skills!  I'll be back another day to share more about the actual job - and why I left... 

Do you travel at all for work?  What are your must-haves when you're on the road?  


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11 comments

  1. I used travel, however infrequently, for work when I was younger. These sounds like great tips but in those day I was far more resilient to stress and hectic schedules. Working 10hr days and then going out after to hang out with new friends and running on very little sleep. Then have to work right up until I had to literally run to the airport to catch my flight- I swear they would only recognize me in the Dayton airport if I were running to my gate. Now, I would find that very different, needing downtime and unwinding between hectic days or even just a stretch of scheduled ones.
    All great tips for relaxing and feeling at ease while away from the comforts of home.
    I'll have to check those ingredients on the aveeno shampoo as I see that it's sulfate free. I have curly hair and some ingredients are problematic for curly hair (causing dryness and frizzies). I've somewhat recently started going to an Aveda salon to get my hair done and bought the products, very pricey but if they work, that's one splurge I'm happy to indulge in. However, the shampoo doesn't cleanse enough, my scalp is oily right after washing- so disappointed. They may have another that works but I don't want to be experimenting with $30 bottles of shampoo. Recently realized that hard water is likely causing the damage and frizziness- our well water is extremely hard and our water softener doesn't seem to be working efficiently lately. Time to replace it (the joys of home ownership). I'm going to check on that aveeno shampoo; I'd be so happy if it worked my hair.
    I would love to hear about this job you had- sounds like interesting and rewarding but it would be hard to be away from home so much.

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    1. Oh gosh, that run off the feet feeling you're describing was totally my job! I had to fly out of a community, drive home in four hours, hop another plane to a Toronto and Montreal, sleep one hour, fly to Northrn Quebec and start a weeklong workshop the next day. So tiring! I could never maintain that pace for a career. But I was hoping to do that work for two years! I wish I hadn't had to leave.

      I am not sure about curly hair and this shampoo. I have got stick straight hair so I don't even think about things like that! But I do think Aveeno makes products for curly hair?

      Even without curly hair, I definitely understand about the water hardness. It's the difference between soft bouncy hair and flat awful hair for me. Such a pain to have to replace the water softener. Wells are lovely but so much work!

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  2. Those are some great tips, thanks for sharing! Your job sounds like it was a lot of fun - and I work with indigenous communities too, so I'm keen to hear more, when you're ready. All the best with the job hunt! - T

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    1. I will definitely share more, it was a very interesting experience! I'd love to hear more about your work too, if you feel like sharing :)

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    2. I work more at an international policy level and I'm interested in the relationship between IPLC and wildlife. So I envy you your time in the field with bears etc!

      P.S.: Liked your response to the anon comment on Walmart :)

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    3. Oooo, your job sounds really great! Such an interesting dynamic there. Being in the communities was an eye opening experience for sure. Some communities have started doing a tourism thing where they fly in people from cities like Toronto from a cultural experience and I think that's such a fascinating idea.

      I haven't told anyone, but I applied and interviewed for a post doc which has to do with Indigenous Communities and Work Studies, which I really, really want but I don't know how many other candidates are in the running. We'll see!

      I'm glad you liked my reply. I thought long and hard about it, tried to give a thoughtful response. I try to selfishly use these sponsored posts as an opportunity just to chat about random things, which I hope readers see. It's not content that has come from a major corporation... But I totally understand the concern.

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  3. I already hate how I sound saying this but I have to say it... Walmart is a really terrible company and I'm sad to see you advertising for them. And yes, I'm saying it anonymously.

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    1. Anonymous comments never bother me. And you are more than welcome to voice that opinion here. I say yes to brands I use and I was so pumped to work with Aveeno, but the caveat was a mention that I purchased at Walmart (which has been the case for a few other brands in the past which you might not have noticed). So I did purchase my producy there. And I do in real life. When I can, I purchase local and shop local but the truth is that I live an hour from town and, to save gas, I don't come into town super frequently. I often batch life tasks into epic errand running days and those days are also filled with appointments and catching up with friends or helping family with stuff and when I finally leave town I pick up last minute grocery items so they'll keep. Even though I have a plug in cooler, I don't want chicken sitting around in my truck all day, lol. Sometimes when I do leave town it's late and there's only a couple options and I toggle between Walmart and another chain because at 10pm not much else is open. Walmart was a real convenience especially when I was flying out of town for work and needed something last minute on my way home after a late flight. So yes, I do shop at Walmart on occasion. Not weekly, but I do. And I try to advertise in an authentic way, that reflects how I really live. So I write about local brands, Amazon purchases, Canadian stores and, yep, Walmart. It's a mixed bag.

      As well, ads like this let me keep producing a lot of fun (free, unsponsored) content.

      So while I understand your concerns, believe me I do, I also think that to pretend I don't shop somewhere would be really inauthentic and in blogland, where so much is fake and staged, I am choosing to be honest. Authenticity has been a real focus of mine and something I think about a lot.

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    2. *product. Ugh who knows how many other typos i made, sorry. Typing on my phone, haha.

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  4. These are great tips! Just after I graduated from college and got married I traveled a lot for work as did my husband. Sometimes we both were in the same city during the week and were able to go out on date nights while traveling. I definitely could have used some travel tips because by the end of those few years traveling frequently we were both exhausted and wanted to be home everyday! #client

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    1. That's so sweet you could do date nights! My hubby sometimes travels too and we would play the game "who is more north," lol and see who was in a more remote location. We never crossed paths, that would have been fun. I'm impressed that you did that for a few years! I'm sure you have a ton of tips of your own.

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