My goodness. What an incredible few days it’s been. I’ve been able to meet and hug so many new (and old!) friends in Lexington, Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte, Birmingham and, tomorrow, Dallas. It’s blown me away, really… and your sweet words and encouragement have meant so much to me.
Traveling is NOT something I’m good at… if I’m being honest. I LOVE the signings, but the in-between… the airports, the rental cars, the hotels, the flight delays… I’m a home-body. :) And proud of it! Haha! If I could invite you all to my house, I would. That would be fun!! In fact, one day, maybe we’ll plan a conference of sorts and have everyone come visit.
I started planning for this whirlwind 8-day, 6-city, 7-signings trip months ago. I wanted to make it as easy as possible and I wanted to really take care of myself this time so I didn’t get home burned out. I’ve learned, over the last few years, that I’m an extroverted introvert. Meaning… I LOVE making new friends…. I love being in big groups and connecting with people. And then when that’s over, I crave solitude. Quiet, alone time. Luckily, my husband knows / loves this and is the same way. He works in sales. (Hmm… I wonder if a lot of “extroverts” are this way)?
Well, here are just a few things I’ve learned along the way regarding this trip. Some are tactical, some are not but maybe they’ll help some of you:
1. Plan for EXTRA down time. Don’t overpack your schedule. I planned one night out with my dear friends Christopher and Gabe in Atlanta and that’s it. It was so much fun. I’ve known Christopher for 10 years and was thrilled to (finally!) meet Gabe in person. But the rest of my trip, I left the margin in my schedule alone for catching up on The Crown on Netflix, listening to some good audio books (didn’t pack “actual” books since I didn’t have much space in my carry-on), finding amazing coffee shops (like this one), and sleeping. I slept 14 hours last night. Not even kidding. Plan for more-than-usual down time to take care of yourself while traveling. I don’t know why – maybe its the change in routine – but traveling takes lots of extra energy. Thanks to the Westin Nashville for the amazing spa experience… what a treat during this trip!!
2. If you’re flying a lot, TRY not to check a bag. I’ve had this Samsonite carry-on for as long as I can remember. It’s been all over the place and held up so well. Though I think the zipper may give out soon thanks to how tightly I packed it this go-’round. Checking a bag adds like a zillion annoying hours to travel frustration time. Just don’t do it. Here’s a list of what I packed in my carry-on:
- 2 pairs of jeans for events (soft, skinny jeans that basically feel like leggings).
- 2 pairs of leggings for travel (these are my fave and perfect for traveling, though NOT perfect for cold weather).
- A few tops for travel that go with the leggings
- A few tops that can be mix-matched for events to go with the jeans
- 2 pairs of shoes: these booties for events, these sneakers for traveling. And then I had these boots that got shipped home bc they’re just too bulky for quick travel – though adorable.
- Socks and unmentionables to make it through the trip, duh.
- A hang-up toiletries bag with more than I needed (meaning, I packed things I probably don’t normally travel with – for a little more comfort: hand-cream, face-masks, etc).
- Bare minimum makeup in this bag set my team gave me for Christmas. I LOVE THIS BAG. It’s super high quality and it sits “open” perfectly so you don’t have to dump your makeup out on a hotel counter (germ-a-phobe).
- Hair straightener (Didn’t pack a blow dryer since hotels have one. I really miss mine).
- A big jacket (I wore this on the plane to save carry-on space; got mine on SUPER black friday sale).
- A backpack (<- if you follow me on Instagram, you’re probably tired of hearing about how much I love this bag… BUT I LOVE THIS BAG. It was a gift from my husband for Christmas and I’m obsessed. It’s so high quality, so perfect – with a zillion pockets – and just so cute). I didn’t pack a purse. I slipped a clutch into the bag for anywhere I’d need to carry an actual purse, which has basically been nowhere. It has a laptop pocket too, which is awesome. In my backpack, I’ve packed: my laptop, laptop charger (in a side pocket), my phone / apple watch chargers (in the other side pocket), a phone charger block-thing (you know? the thing that charges your phone without being plugged in), my wallet, my big scarf, a few snacks [RX bars and such], and an empty, reusable to-go coffee cup), some Emergen-c gummies to help my immune system a bit while traveling and hugging so many people).
- I packed everything in these packing cubes (thanks for the rec, Jess!)
Now, things I did not pack:
- a purse (have my backpack with a small clutch inside)
- a hair dryer (hotels have them)
- a ton of clothes (pack capsule-ish and take pics of every outfit so you only pack what you need)
3. Use something to keep all travel details together. I LOVE TripIt <- there is a free version and a pro version. I use the pro version bc I have to travel a lot for work. It allows you to forward any hotel / rental car / flight into to an email address and it automatically updates your travel itinerary. They alert me if anything is delayed, auto-text me when I get to an airport to tell me which gate I have to run to (haha), and just hold everything in one place. I have the app on my phone and I love it.
4. Delta Sky Club. If you travel a lot, take my advice here… the American Express Platinum Card is everything. (This is not at all sponsored, I just seriously love this card). We have one for the business and one personally. We love it because a) it has GREAT perks and b) AMEX gives you a great analysis of your spending at the end of every year. It costs $550 per year, BUT the benefits basically pay for it. AND, if you are active duty military, AMEX will waive the fee!! So, we put E V E R Y thing on our AMEX and pay it off at the end of every month. We try and keep as much as possible on this card bc keeping everything in one place helps see / track your overall spending. Plus, knowing we’re going to have to pay it off at the end of the month helps us remember to watch it like a hawk. Now, there are a zillion perks, but here are some of my faves: $200 airline credit (yearly), $200 Uber credit (yearly), Clear / Pre-Check credit (every few years). 10 Go-go inflight internet passes (yearly). And my favorite benefit: access to a TON of airport lounges, including Delta Sky Club. The DSC is my home-away-from-home when traveling. They’re usually uncrowded, have nice / clean bathrooms, a place to charge #allthethings, big comfy chairs, and complimentary breakfast / lunch / coffee / bar / etc. Honestly, I basically will go straight to the airport to eat breakfast or lunch here. And they have so many healthy options. I’ve seriously saved so much money with this benefit. And when you’re traveling with kids, it’s the best. It’s just a place to rest in otherwise insane airports and I’m really grateful for it after 8 days traveling. :) Here is a referral link if you’re interested. OH, someone just told me AMEX also gives you Global Access so that when you’re returning from international flights, you skip those HUGE lines!
5. Get TSA Pre-check or Clear. Waiting in lines is the worst. With AMEX reimbursing our fees for this, it was a no-brainer.
6. Leave a little happy at home. Leaving my kiddos is the hardest thing ever — and not something I take lightly at all. I don’t do it much anymore, so when I do, I make sure to leave things as buttoned up at home as possible. I married super dad, so that’s a win, haha. And, thankfully, Nana came down to stand in and take care of everyone. I also continued a tradition I started when Brady was an itty bitty baby. Whenever I travel, I leave little happies at home to put a smile on their faces everyday. I went to Party City before I left and got little prizes – their candy is 15 for $1.00 and their little prizes are $0.25. Yes, they’ll get thrown away or lost or whatever, but for a minute, they absolutely love it – and that’s worth it. I put them in little bags (also available at Party City) with numbers on them counting down until I come back.
I’m so excited for Dallas tomorrow! I’ve been to Dallas before, but only for a hot minute. Can’t wait to visit the Barnes & Noble there!! Thank you so much for all your love and support of A Simplified Life. The movement toward simple and meaningful in a world that often feels so busy and chaotic is so much bigger than me. I’m so proud to be part of it and so grateful for all your kind words and for all your encouraging stories. Let’s keep it going!! We’re halfway through our Simplicity Challenge. If you’ve missed any, you can download a free copy of the ENTIRE challenge here!
See you soon, Texas! And to my babies – TWO MORE DAYS!!