when travel is a dream: road essentials


In Christopher Nolan’s 2010 sci-fi film “Inception,” the characters travel in and out of dream worlds. These worlds are so seemingly realistic that all the dream travelers carry totem objects to remind them that they are dreaming. The objects act as anchors to the “real world” for the travelers, and help them maintain their sanity.

I do the same thing: I pack specific items that ground me and keep me focused when I’m on the road.

From the end of December 2017 to the beginning of April 2018, I did a fair amount of traveling.  Some of it was around the United States, and some of it was between various spots in NYC and the Hudson Valley. Most of the travel was a dream, but even when it wasn’t, I’d packed what I need to make myself feel at home anywhere.

travel essentials


Maybe it’s from growing up in Alaska, where you take your shoes off at the door to avoid tracking snow or dirt in from outside, but I never wear shoes inside my house. I’m rarely bare-footed either. My apartment floor is pretty clean, but the thought of walking around without slippers makes me wince. (Also, brr–cold feet).

Usually, I take my house slippers with me on trips, but on my last trip to Los Angeles, I forgot, and had to pick up this tropical pair. They’re now my designated “travel” pair of slippers.  

travel essentials 4


Tea drinking is part of my morning routine, and traveling with my favorite blend (Mate Carnival from Summit Spice Company in Anchorage, yes please!) eases me into days of exploring. Once upon a time, I used the disposable tea bags, but I prefer this metal one–I can usually roll it up in a shirt, and it’s reusable, so there’s less waste.

travel essentials 3


Traveling is wonderful. Traveling can also be overwhelming and stressful. Essential oils and rollers help me manage anxiety, and also provide a perfume when my usual favorite is too big for FDA requirements. I like the Young Living brand, and usually have the following:

-Tranquil: perfect for nighttime, or especially stressful situations. I roll it on my wrists, collarbones and the back of my neck.

-Of Mountains Made mix: I make my own roller of Cedarwood, Sacred Mountain, Sacred Frankincense, and Jasmine. It’s complex, soothing, and invigorating, all at once. I carry the first three oils with me in bottle form as well.

-Frankincense with a roller-ball attached to the bottle: unfortunately, when I took this picture I’d run out of regular Frankincense, but I usually use it for facial skincare. I put a rollerball top right on the bottle, and rub it under my eyes (perfect for flights–I’ve scared one too many flight attendants using a face-mask en route), and around my face. I find it soothes my skin and also leaves me feeling refreshed.


If I can, I like to take one of my favorite perfumes. This one is from my boyfriend, and if I’m not traveling with him, it’s nice to be reminded of him. When I’m not going to check a bag, however, I usually just rely on my oil rollers.

travel essentials 2


No matter what, I always pack a scarf. It can be used as a fashion accessory, or as a layer. It’s especially handy on airplanes, where the temperature can get chilly. In New Orleans, I used one as a tattoo cover-up. In Russia, my mother and I used them to cover our heads when we entered churches.

Epson Bath Salts

This is a recent addition. When I travel, and especially when I travel with my family, I do a lot of walking. Plus, long flights can be hard on the body. If there’s the option to soak my legs with salts, it feels like the ultimate luxury, and because I travel with oils, I can customize my soaks.


My co-worker was kind enough to write me a list of recommendations for my LA trip, and it was a great way to discover some amazing places. Recommendations don’t just have to come from friends (though they often know what you might like best). I also like to watch movies and read books set in the place I’m traveling to. Not only do I start to get a sense of the area, but often writers will weave in neighborhoods and landmarks to the story–then it’s fun to go find those places!

Sarita’s Pupuseria in Los Angeles; featured in “La La Land.”

Bose Speaker

I adore this portable speaker. It’s easy to carry, charges quickly and holds the charge for a long time, and is an excellent sound system. As someone who plays music constantly in the morning and night, it helps solidify wherever I’m staying as my temporary “home.” (Fun fact: this post was not sponsored by Bose, sadly). 



Since she was eleven, one of my best friend’s greatest fears is to be stuck somewhere without a book.

I have to admit: I share that fear.

Books are a great source of entertainment (and/or education, depending on what you read), and reading in a public space or park is an ideal way to get to know a place. In New Orleans, my sister and I read in Louis Armstrong Park amidst brass band performances; in Croatia, my best friend and I read between bouts of rock-jumping into the ocean. I read very quickly, so I like to have at least three books on hand. Sometimes for comfort, I’ll take an old favorite, like Rebecca.


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