‘In some ways I like traveling, in other ways I’m sort of fed up by the whole notion’ – Joe Sacco
I’ve always imagined that anyone who gets to travel for work must lead an incredibly glamorous lifestyle; and I always loved the hustle and bustle of train stations and airports, full of people going off on amazing adventures with their fancy wheelie cases. Of course it never dawned on me really that the only times I was in a train station or airport I found it exciting because I was travelling for pleasure – and I just assumed everyone else there was doing the same. It wasn’t until I started a new job in October which required travel down to London and Eastbourne on a fortnightly basis how differently you start to look at a train station when you’re waiting for your old friend the 0704 to London on a freezing cold platform in mid-December.
Don’t get me wrong I really enjoy my new job and I knew when I was offered it that there would be regular travel involved, sometimes however when your alarm goes off at 5.30am – a good hour and a half before your central heating has kicked in, that exciting train station is suddenly your arch nemesis. If being doing the regular commute down south for 6 months now and I’ve devised a few tips and time savers which make the early mornings and hours on trains a little more bearable:
Wash your hair the night before
This sounds totally obvious I know. Sometimes it’s hard to break a habit of a lifetime and since time began I have always been someone who washes their hair in the morning. However if I have an early train to catch the next morning I’ll wash it the night before instead and tie it back into a tight ponytail while it’s wet which straightens out all the frizzy ends at the front. Come the next morning it’s bone dry and able to be easily manipulated into a neat topknot (providing your hair is long enough – if you have short hair I’m not entirely sure what the answer is). I still have a shower in the morning though, just without getting my hair wet – I’m not a complete scruff. It just means I get an extra half hour in bed and Davy isn’t woken up at 4am by my hairdryer (aka the noise gun). If I’m staying in a hotel overnight I wash and tong it the night before so the curls drop over night and I’m pretty much good to go without any extra messing. It’s all about those precious extra minutes in bed!
Invest in two of everything
I was finding because I was starting to be away so often (and I’m the laziest person you’ll ever meet) I hadn’t even unpacked half my toiletries from the last trip before it was time to gather them all together again for my next jaunt. So as a time saver; I invested in 2 of everything. I have two make up bags (my travel make up bag is largely filled with free samples and cheaper versions of things like powdered foundation) and a small wash bag with travel sized shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, tooth brush, toothpaste, shower gel and dry shampoo. Same goes for technology; spare earphones, my work laptop came with a spare charger so I have one at work and one in my travel case, and got a cheap second phone and ipad chargers from ebay. These all have a permanent home in my travel bag at very little extra cost and saves loads of time when I only need to think about what clothes to pack.
Resist the urge to eat rubbish
It’s easy when you’re travelling and cold and hungry in the morning to make yourself feel better with some tasty food and I was often first in the queue at Café Nero at Newcastle station thrusting a sausage sandwich in the baristas face at 6am. Tasty as it was it never filled me up and I was starving again by the time I arrived in London, meaning a visit to the artisan cupcake stall at Victoria station was also a regularity. Then I’d sugar crashed by lunchtime so would have a large mayonnaisey baguette, you see the pattern? That kind of diet is fine for a one off but when you’re doing it often it’s not good for your waistline and was making me sluggish throughout the day. Now I just have a coffee first thing, then some porridge on the train which sees me through to lunchtime where I’m my inclined to have a salad or some soup. I’m not trying to make out to be some health goddess of course, my cupcake stall loyalty card still gets its fair share of stamps!
Take your good pyjamas
This is less about saving time and more about saving your dignity. I normally just sleep in shorts and an a comfy old t-shirt of Dave’s however I have a real fear of the fire alarm going off in my hotel room and having to evacuate before I have time to grab the closest hoodie. I wrote last year about bralets which I always wear while i’m saying away from home – they’re soft and comfy enough to sleep in and save you having to fish your chebs from under your armpits in the morning. I have a shorts and t-shirt set from Primark as my work pyjamas which are reasonably priced and means it feels like a bit of a treat when I wear them.
Try and recreate your routine from home
I never sleep very well when i’m not in my own bed, especially if it’s just for one night but I read a great article on the train recently about trying to recreate a routine within a routine when you’re away from home. So when I’m down in Eastbourne I’ve joined a local gym which has a pay as you go option, or I try and book in a hotel that has it’s own gym, as that’s probably what I’d be doing if I were at home. After the gym i’ll get some tea, either with a colleague who’s also down or just something to have in my room, i’ll try and tidy up the blog, browse the internet, call the hubby and have a cup of decaf coffee and a chomp – just like I would at home.
Do you have any time saving travel tips or travel routines you always stick to?