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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…
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 once! Plus 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.
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.
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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