You might have guessed by now that I’m obsessed with stuff like eating well, lowering my plastic consumption, exercising and staying fit. And you might have also guessed by now that I’m obsessed with to-do lists, strict routines and consistent habits in general. However, I often happen to travel, both for my work and for personal reasons. I can’t afford to entirely give up my routine and habits, because that would mean too much time that I’m not aligned with my values. So, how does a person dealing with OCD pack her luggage so that she stays on track even while traveling? Here’s the few non-negotiable items I pack when I’m on the road.
Lunch. One of the main things that vegan and waste-free bloggers recommend is not to eat food on the plane but to pack your own. This is supposedly to decrease the plastic consumption and the chemicals and preservatives intake in our bodies. I do that also because I find the food on planes quite disgusting so I use mine as a backup. Normally, I would cook the day before the flight two portions of quinoa and zucchini, eat one and pack the other one into a jar. By the time I arrive at the security checks at the airport, some steam has been released and the inside of the jar looks a little watery. I always take it out of my bag and put it together with the electronic devices. This isn’t enough and the weird jar with liquid inside always catches the attention of the people at the metal detector, who stop my bag and call the police. The two policemen can’t recognise the nature of that meal and ask me what this is. “It’s quinoa with zucchini and that’s the steam that was formed overnight”. I see they’re not convinced. They look at each other and cant’ hide they won’t let the jar pass. I panic. Oh my God, what am I going to eat now? Then inspiration comes through me and out of nothing, with a very coy tone and face expression I say: “I’m vegan!” The two policeman roll they eyes up, then look at me with compassion and understanding as if I told them I’m Forrest Gump, give me back my quinoa and zucchini jar and let me go. Lesson learnt: if you’re in trouble at the security check, tell them you’re vegan.
Soap bar. This is a new entry on the list of the items related to OCD that I pack. That’s because I just recently took on the resolution to reduce my plastic consumption. Transitioning to a soap bar and giving up my favourite lavender shower gel was really hard. Now showering doesn’t feel like magic anymore, it just makes me clean. I pack the soap bar… in a little plastic box. I know. I know I said I want to decrease the plastic intake but I really couldn’t find a proper aluminium box fitting the size of the soap bar at the time I bought it. As strange as it may sound, this little box looks dangerous when it passes through the metal detector and they always double check. When they open the box and smell lavender (of course I still buy the lavender-scented soap bar), the people at the security controls feel relieved (and a little relaxed) and let me go.
Ankle weights. I have a gym membership and I usually don’t workout at home. Of course, traveling doesn’t mean I’m excused and entitled to skip sports. Traveling just means I resume my old at-home-no-jumps workout I used to do before joining the gym. And this includes some legs and butt exercises with ankle weights (of one kilo each). There are two types of controllers at the security check at airport. Those who have been to a gym before and know what ankle weights are for and those who haven’t. The controllers of the first type let me go. The controllers of the second type want me to open my luggage (I always forget to put the ankle weights on a separate tray together with the electronic devices). This is the moment where I lead by example and inform them that these things are useful if you want to firm your butt and get your workout done. You can see the breakthrough in their face. The realisation that being consistent with sports is feasible even while traveling empowers them and, motivated by new hope, they let me go.
Supplements. I take a magnesium pill every day, which is very good for your muscles and to quickly recover from an intense workout. The only problem is that these are white pills sold in a big plastic jar. Nobody gives a damn that I bought the big jar to save plastic. Somehow people are only concerned with the fact that this looks a bit illegal, but still less threatening than the zucchini and quinoa jar because they don’t call the police for this. They just look at the label and when they read “supreme magnesium” they feel reassured and let me go.
Immersion blender and kitchen knives in ceramic. I brought the immersion blender and the kitchen knives in ceramic with me when I went to New Zealand more than two years ago. How was I supposed to eat a smoothie every single day for breakfast and to make my home made hummus with veggies without an immersion blender and proper knives? No way I was giving up cooking and settling for pre-packed food during a three-weeks long road trip! For such a long trip I packed both the big suitcase and the hand luggage. The immersion blender and the knives went into the big luggage together with the ankle weights, which is not checked with the metal detector. As if this was something I was thinking about at that time. It never crossed my mind that this might actually have caused some troubles. I realised that months after that trip. My only concern back then was to avoid at any cost the troubles of inorganic food. In the same way, the only concern of the people at the security check in New Zealand was to protect their fragile ecosystem and prevent the entrance of any sort of food in the country. Once we landed in Auckland, all our luggage had to go through a detector to check whether we had food or not, including the large suitcases we usually check in. I was the calmest person on earth because I had eaten my quinoa and zucchini meal during the connection time in Hong Kong and had no more food with me. And my suitcase with the hand mixer and the knives in it went through the security check with no problems!
So there you have it. Here’s how you should pack your luggage if you want to firm your butt, keep up with your eating disorders and don’t live a zero-waste life because the toothbrush, makeup and body lotion you packed are still wrapped in plastic. Just make sure to arrive at the airport ahead of time to pass through the security check with no rush.
Now I’d love to hear how you pack your luggage! What are the non-negotiable items you always bring with you while traveling and why? Did they ever caused you trouble at the security check at the airport? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you’d like more blog posts about my OCD, then you should definitely subscribe to The Breaking Thirty Newsletter with the form below.