Traveling can be a great way to take a break from patterns and give a person a fresh perspective.  But the flip side of interrupting routines is that you can be left feeling out of sorts: why have I just checked for my keys for the 5th time?

The solution?  When you’re on the road, replicate your home systems as much as possible. Do what you can to take good care of yourself and prep a few things in your bag so you’re ready for busy days and tight turnarounds if you’re a frequent traveler.  Here are some tips for staying organized even when you’re away from your familiar routine: 

  • Create a visual reminder of where important things go.  For instance, if your keys and wallet go in a bowl when you walk in the door at home, create a visual reminder with a towel in your hotel room, so you always know where those essentials are. 
  • Consider keeping a pocket-style folder in your bag for paperwork you need for traveling, or for paperwork you’ll accumulate while traveling. 
  • Save time by having a set of toiletries always packed. It’s good to know the basics are always ready to go.  Replenish anything that’s low when you get home, so you have no last-minute surprises the next time you set off.
  • Women may want to have a travel pack of makeup and brushes.  A soft case to roll jewelry in is helpful as well.
  • A lot of hotel rooms have mini-bars, and mini-offices.  Spend a little less time with the mini-bar, and a little more time using the mini-office. Use the desk as a reminder to take time for your personal business like phone calls, paying bills etc.  Give yourself a 20 minute window each day so that things don’t get neglected while you’re away. If you’ll be away for an extended travel period, take a list of bills you regularly pay, so you can keep up with everything.
  • Use a password management system like 1Password or LastPass so you have what you need to get things done when you’re away from home.  Entering your credit card info into the system can be doubly helpful in the event your wallet is lost or stolen.
  • Pack healthy snacks like nuts, dried fruit, and energy bars. It’s hard to stay on top of anything for long if you’re hungry or indulging too much in junk food. If you’re not well-nourished, you might find it hard to make the best decisions in the moment, or to take the extra steps needed to stay organized.  
  • Stay hydrated.  As John Prine’s classic song reminds us,  “The water tastes funny when you’re far from your home/But it’s only the thirsty who hunger to roam.”  Beat the traveling blues with a reusable Brita travel bottle with a filter that takes out the chlorine taste.
  • If you wear disposable contacts, make sure you have extras.  Ditto for medications. 
  • Be sure to set aside time on a regular basis for a quiet walk or some other form of exercise.  This will help you maintain your usual rhythms and keep your head clear, along with all the other benefits of keeping your body active.

Bonus tip:  after your trip, make a list of things you didn’t use, so you remember to leave them at home next time.

Bonus bonus:  Always pack your swimsuit so you never miss out on an unexpected heated pool or nearby hot springs.

Happy travels!