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500+ for 50 – day 37: the 7 essentials of my carry-on suitcase

I’ve had the opportunity to travel to nearly all parts of the country at one time or another throughout the past seven years of my career as a remote based national salesperson.  And that’s been an absolutely wonderful experience for me.  The healthy side of my persona has always loved the freedom and adventure associated with travel.  When I’m fearful to board a plane or take a long road trip in a car, that’s usually an indicator that something in my life is seriously off track.  Because deep down I really do love to involve myself in as many new experiences as possible in life.  And that’s often best accomplished through travel, whether it be for personal or professional reasons.

As an individual with an anxiety disorder, I’ve spent more time than most planning the contents of my carry-on suitcase.  It’s important never to take things for granted when you’re dealing with mental health related issues.  To maintain a healthy mindset and to function optimally it’s important to remain committed to the habits that promote a healthy well-being.  You can’t simply sacrifice those habits for your temporary change of scenery or the more demanding schedule that you may be facing.  You must be committed to what works for you 100% of the time.  There is no room to slack in lesser known settings.  Maintaining a healthy mind and body is a full time gig. 

A person’s luggage make-up is normally dictated by the specific needs of their trip.  But I’ve compiled a list of essentials that my baggage will hold no matter the destination in sight.

Here are 7 items that are sure to be in my carry-on suitcase at all times:

  1. The Bible

Number one on the list because it’s number one in my heart.  My faith is what makes any ounce of travel that I do possible.  I have directed my focus to God to aid my efforts to overcome my anxieties and He has helped me time and time again.  The Bible is a visual reminder and representation of my relationship with Him.  I like to hold it in my hands and say a quick prayer before heading out onto the runway.  And I also enjoy reading some of my favorite selections of Scripture in moments when I anticipate that I may be tested by my mind.  It provides me with a peace that I cannot find through any other outlet.  I know that God is with me at all times, and the presence of my Bible is a visual reminder of that.

  1. Running shoes

Admittedly, I do not utilize them with the frequency that I should on every trip.  But no matter the burden that they are to carry in a very tightly packed carry-on, they are a priority that I try never to overlook.  Running has been a tremendous resource for me in my battle with anxiety.  When I’m running with regularity, generally things are pretty stable in my mind and body.  Sometimes the best way to enjoy a vacation is to start the morning with a run.  And often it’s the best way to calm down in the evening back at the hotel after a day filled with travel and meetings.  It can also be an excellent way to experience the sights and sounds of a new city.  I want to always provide myself with the option to get my feet moving, no matter where it is that I may be.

  1. Calming Music

Music can offer tremendous benefits to the mind.  I’ve found calming, instrumental music from groups like Explosions in the Sky and The Album Leaf to be very helpful in allowing me to channel my focus towards a positive place.  When I’m listening to such music, I find that my heart rate calms and I am able to gather my thoughts more effectively.  It serves as an excellent tool for meditation and prayer.  And music is often the inspiration behind some of my best writing.

  1. An Inspiring Book On Tape

I’m a big fan of YouTube because I love listening to motivational personalities deliver profound speeches that empower others and inspire greatness.  But on an airplane, I often don’t always have the internet access necessary to allow me to surf the web effectively for my favorite speakers.  So I like to travel prepared with a few of my inspired mentors housed in my library on my iPad.  You can wind up wasting a lot of time traveling.  So why not learn something new instead of simply staring at the back of the seat in front of you for the next four hours?  It makes sense to seek inspiration whenever time permits.  And on a long flight, all that you really have is time to burn.

  1. A Tablet/Journal for Writing

There is no better trigger for inspiration than a little bit of travel.  Have you ever gazed out the window at 30,000 feet?  It’s pretty amazing.  I have found that lots of great thoughts tend to come to me when I’m traveling.  Perhaps it’s because when I’m high in the sky and less attached to the worldliness below that I tend to be more open to free thinking?  No matter the reason, I always carry my journal in my carry-on so that I can capture any inspired thoughts that arise in the sky or on the ground below at my destination.  Many of my best blog ideas were developed far from home as a result of my opportunities to travel.

  1. A Healthy Snack

It always amazes me how the McDonald’s at any airport terminal tends to be the busiest of any vendor throughout the concourse.  I’m not here to judge anyone who loads up on a value meal before their flight, but I simply cannot eat that way.  To maintain my maximum efficiency both mentally and physically, I need to remain committed to a healthy diet when I’m on the road.  The first thing that I do once I clear security is grab a liter of Smart Water and generally a banana and/or fruit & nut bar.  Those items will give me the vital energy that I need to carry me through to my final destination.  And they won’t do me any harm in the process.

  1. GPS/iPhone

Nowadays, most of us have a GPS available in our smartphones.  This is perhaps the greatest resource for any regular traveler.  I use the Maps app on my iPhone to get me everywhere.  Rental car to hotel, to meeting, to dinner in the evening – it’s essential.  And it’s best when utilized in combination with some of the other great apps out there to support tourists and newbies seeking dining options and things to do in the area around their basecamp.  I’m a big fan of experiencing the culture of the place that I’m visiting.  So I like to explore with Yelp and Trip Advisor.  And sometimes I just enjoy heading out on a long sightseeing walk with no major destination in mind.  The GPS provides me with the freedom to do so without ever worrying about getting lost.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed my list of travel essentials.  What’s vital to the make-up of your carry-on?  No matter the items you choose, just be sure that they will fit in the overhead compartment or under the seatback in front of you…no one wants to have to gate check 🙂

May God Bless!

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