Long Distance Travel Essential

So now that you know the perks of long distance travel– let’s put together the ultimate packing list to enjoy the ride even more.

COMFORT

  • Leggings/stretch pants/harem pants/lounge pants
    • You’ll definitely want to dress in a way most comfortable to you. I opt for leggings over stretchy jeans because the waist drives me crazy part way in. Plus I have more range of motion to contort myself into whatever position is most comfortable. I always go with long pants no matter the weather because I hate having my bare skin rub up on those velvet seats.
  • Hand sanitizer and tissues
    • You never know how the bathroom is going to look from the get go of the trip- but I can assure you 8 hours in they’ll be looking and smelling pretty rough. Come prepared in case the soap or toilet tissue is all gone.
  • Food and water bottle
    • Don’t assume you’ll be offered a meal or a snack on your ride. If you get one, bonus! But it’ll be a long while without something to nosh on. Peanut butter and hummus are a must for me. I’m able to get a little protein boost and don’t have to worry about any refrigeration. Dried salamis are also a good option as are hard cheeses (Parmesan, Romano, Manchengo, aged cheddar) but use your judgement for how many hours you’re comfortable with them being unrefrigerated. Don’t forget a disposable knife and brown bag to lay your food out on.
    • I recommend not bringing too many salty snacks as you’ll get dehydrated much quicker. Veggie sticks and fruit are great for staying hydrated and can be used instead of chips or crackers for the hummus and peanut butter.
    • Never leave home without a refillable water bottle! Besides saving you lots of money on the go it’s so convenient knowing you always have a little bit of water on you.
    • For these trips I’ll usually get a gallon of water to refill my bottle and stay hydrated the whole way.
Dry salami, aged cheddar, baguette, mustard, and wine. Sandwiches for days.
Dry salami, aged cheddar, baguette, mustard, and wine. Sandwiches for days.
  • Asprin
    • If you are prone to getting achey legs from sitting too long I highly suggest taking an asprin the day before you leave and each morning and night you are traveling.
    • Don’t forget to move around! Walk your heels out at your seat, stretch your arms up, walk up and down the aisle, do some aisle yoga. Forward bends, lunges, hamstring stretches, you get the idea. Usually I’ll get up when most people are settling in to go to sleep so I’m not blocking traffic along the aisle. And on a plane I’ll stroll back to the crew area to have a little more space for lunging and stretching.

ENTERTAINMENT

  • Headphones
    • Was that too obvious? You may be surprised how many people will listen to music from a stereo or have a loud phone conversation the whole way. My train leg from Atlanta to DC had a woman who played music on her stereo all night and day and sang along the whole time. Thank you headphones.
  • Tablet/Phone
    • More and more airplanes have charging outlets but few buses and trains are equip with them. Don’t rely too heavily on your electronics to get you through the whole trip. And make sure you save some charge to access your maps or reservations when you arrive.
    • I always keep my devices in airplane mode to save battery and use them only to read or play music. And make sure you’ve downloaded whatever you are reading as you may not be able to access it from your device in airplane mode (I’ve made that mistake too many times).
  • One lightweight book
    • You may not be able to pick up a book in your native language where you are. Feel free, of course, to pick up a local language read! But I found it’s nice to switch between a foreign language book and an English book to give my brain a bit of a break.

SLEEP

  • Athletic zip up jacket with zippered pockets
    • This is my absolute, number one, can’t leave home without it travel essential. I have such a love affair with my Brooks zip up hooded jacket that I could write a whole post about it. But I’ll save that for when I start running out of content.
    • Keep your wallet/money and passport zipped up at all times. You never want to leave them in your bag, in your tote, or worse yet on your seat. Put your electronics in the inside or outside pockets so that when you fall asleep you’ll have piece of mind that your items are secure.
    • You know what else zippered pockets are good for? Toting your hand sanitizer and tissues to the bathroom. Or your toothbrush, deodorant, change of underwear. See it really is the most helpful single item!
This is the only full picture I could find of my zip up. See how comfy it looks!? Go figure that the photo is blurry during a wine tasting tour.
This is the only full picture I could find of my zip up. See how comfy it looks!? Go figure that the photo is blurry during a wine tasting tour. Notice also the scarf and tote bag. 
  • Two Scarfs/Sorangs
    • Make sure that these two fold up really small but still cover your body as a blanket for sleeping.
    • Use the second as a pillow. I like to stuff the scarf into the hoodie of my Brooks zip up and lay straight back. This is really useful on a plane where you may not have a wall to lay against.
  • Eye Mask & Ear Plugs
    • Definitely buy some ear plugs. They can be a savior in a loud hostel or with folks in the room who snore as well as drowning out the noise on the train, bus, or plane.
    • The eye mask is hit or miss- some people love it and other can do with out. I like it for napping during daylight but hardly ever use it when I go to sleep at night.
  • Bottle/Half bottle/Small box of wine
    • The small boxed wines are the easiest, lightest, and usually cheapest of these options. I really like the Bota Box brand or Black Box. Bandit will make due, but it’s far from my favorite.
    • Not only is it delicious to enjoy some wine with your cheese and salami, it’s also my cure for getting to sleep while traveling. I pack a disposable cup if I’m able to get my hands on one. Or else I’ll put some in my stainless steel water bottle. It’s resourceful but lacking class and I’m ok with it.
    • Clearly these options will not work on a flight. Bring some nips! All major US airlines forbid bringing alcohol on a plane, but I have yet to have the small sized (under three ounces, we call them nips here in the States) taken from my carry on luggage. Just do not let them see you pour it into your ginger ale, coke, bloody mary mix, etc. The risk is yours to take.

bota box black box

  • Melotonin
    • Some people swear by it. I’ve had great success with wine so I’ve never explored the option, but I thought I’d add it here.

TOTE BAG

  • I travel with only my backpack, but I still bring along a tote bag to keep under my feet. This way I don’t have to keep getting things out from my bag over head. Your neighbors and seat mates will thank you for this.
  • Along with everything listed above, I keep a toiletry bag with my tooth brush, face wipes, deodorant, change of underwear and possibly a change of clothes depending how long I’ll be in transit in the tote bag.

Additional Note

  • Whenever it’s possible to keep your bag in the passenger compartment, do it. It’s too easy for a bag to walk off if it’s underneath. Sometimes this means cramming both your tote and backpack under you legs for too many hours. If you have any funny feelings about leaving your bag out of sight- the few hours of discomfort will be nothing compared to finding a new pack and paying to refill it while on the road.
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