Traveling as an Artist

Notice the fewer posts this week? Yep, I was on the road, and too hectic to post. Travel is not fun anymore. Although I’m grateful I’ve shaved off 60 pounds every time I have to drop into the center seat, travel is still exhausting and stress-producing. But there are ways you can make the trip just a bit easier:

Check your bag. Yes, my bag does fit overhead, but by the time I get on, there is no more space. I can gate check it, which is free, and I can ask for help loading it overhead, but once I have committed to a bag, it has to come into restrooms and food locations. So I check it, knowing that I can put in all my cosmetics, and not just the one-quart bag full. I also don’t have to hoist it onto the X-ray machine, pull it off and run with it.

4134b-7LYjLCarry a backpack and a smaller purse. The purse fits into the backpack and holds essentials–credit cards, cash, pen, phone, earphones, gum, keys. It’s worn cross-body while I’m in line, making the license and phone (with the e-boarding pass) easily accessible. Once through the final checkpoint, the purse goes into the backpack, and the only gray tub you need is for shoes and jacket.

The backpack itself has the items I must have when I arrive–iPad, hotel and shuttle information, a spare jump drive with the class material, and a change of underwear. There’s also a journal to work on while there is an electronic blackout.  A backpack is remarkably comfortable to carry–much better than a one-shoulder bag.

Carry food. It’s possible that I’ll miss a meal while on the flight, and missing a meal is bad for blood sugar. So I carry mixed nuts, nut-and-seed bars (homemade), a dark chocolate bar, and an apple. In a pinch, I’ve got a low-carb meal.

Pack an excellent quality hand cream. I love Diptyque Hand Balm. It’s abc_baume_genereuxnon-greasy, mildly fragranced, and can be used on your face and neck. Airlines and hotel rooms are horribly dry. I also carry lip gloss and a small tube of OK hand cream. That way I can use it often enough to keep my cuticles in one piece.

Bring something comforting. A candle, a favorite sweater, a favorite fragrance. Hotels can be impersonal and lonely. A candle that fills the room with fragrance, a spritz of your favorite fragrance on your pillow, something that eases stress is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.

Plan when to work and when to relax. Working all the time wrecks your efficiency. Allow yourself to relax on flights.

-Quinn McDonald teaches business communications. She does art in hotel rooms.