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Travel like an author

By September 9, 2019November 11th, 20194 Comments

It’s been eleven years since I started my life in publishing, and in that time, one of the biggest changes has been the amount of travel I do. There was a time in my life when I traveled for vacations – and most of those locations were within driving distance. Fast forward a decade, and now I’m often on the road every week, particularly during heavy conference times in the spring and fall. Between now and the end of November, I’ll visit about a dozen cities.

It’s joyous because of the interesting people I meet and the communities I get to learn about.  In 2020, for example, I’ll go to Shanghai and Hawaii for author visits, places I could only have dreamed about earlier.

But despite those plusses, business travel can also be a grind. Crowded airports, canceled flights, strange hotel rooms and time away from your family and routines are tough on the mind and body when you have to do it long-term.

How to survive? I’ve invested in TSA Precheck to minimize the hassle of screening lines, and I can safely say that the cushy Delta Skylounge has been worth the investment for the free food and comfort that it provides when I’ve had it up-to-here on a frustrating travel day.

But there are also smaller purchases I’ve made along the way that have made life easier. For all you bookish travelers out there, here’s my survival kit.


Travel Pro Luggage

Travel Pro Luggage*

Invest in one good piece of luggage. I didn’t used to care, but Travel Pro luggage changed all that for me. My trips are usually 4 days or less, so I need a small suitcase, preferably one that I don’t have to check. (Sorry airlines, I don’t trust you.) I did my research on this one and settled on one that’s recommended number one by flight attendants.

The winner has been my Travel Pro 16 inch MaxLite in an easy-to-spot blue. It’s surprisingly roomy, fits under the seat on small planes, and is guaranteed for life. Check it out.

The runner up is a backpack, especially for overnight trips. My husband bought a Hynes Eagle backpack* that I’m currently testing out for him since he wants to take it on a trip this fall. The ad claims that you can pack two week’s worth of clothes here – and still store it under your seat. Here’s what’s good:  you can carry it like a backpack, a briefcase or a suitcase. It fits under the seat and is water repellent. It also fits up to a 17-inch lap top as well as an extra pair of shoes. Downside:  no wheels. What if it gets heavy? I’ll report back.

For the plane

My number one travel complaint is always my sore feet. I’ve stopped wearing uncomfortable shoes, especially with so many great looking flats and sneaker options, but even so, I like to pack slippers for the plane and hotel.

Of course, it’s rude to engage in “foot nudity” on planes. (See the full list of annoying plane behaviors here.) So here’s a good option*. They’re lightweight sort of yoga shoes. You don’t look like you’re in your bedroom, but still very comfortable.

If you don’t mind looking like your nana, I’d also recommend these. Sue me, they’re comfortable.

Comfy slippers

Comfy slippers*


I pack a granola bar, a Kind bar* or a piece of fruit as a standard in case I don’t have time to stop for food. I’ve also nursed my smaller pleasures. Airlines will make you a cup of tea, but it’s a pretty sad version. So, I pack a few of my favorite tea bags and bring along individual honey packets* for the flights.

Travel Shawl

Is it hot? Is it cold? Plane temperature is a pain, so I wear a pashmina* or that I can use as a light blanket or gather like a scarf when I deplane. I bought mine at Pashmina Fashion, a shop in Jackson Heights, Queens (near Broadway), but they’re widely available and at all price points.

Self-care at the Hotel

Being in conversation with large groups of people for many days can be daunting, even for the most enthusiastic extrovert. I’ve learned to embrace basic self-care. If there’s a gym, I will use it. If there’s a walking path, I’m on it. If I’m in New York, I try to stay at the Even Hotel, which is reasonably priced and has fitness equipment and videos in all the rooms. Their food options are also health conscious.

But why stop there? National Book Award-winner Robin Benway turned me onto the joy of an indulgent face mask in a hotel. There are a million options. My favorite is the Neutrogena Hydro Boost. It’s a nice pick-me-up when you’ve traveled all day and have meetings and dinners that evening.

Make-up Wipes

Make-up Wipes*

Another favorite indulgence are makeup wipes. Unlike at home where I’m often barefaced, when I travel to speaking gigs, I wear makeup. Individually wrapped wipes work well and I just pack enough for the trip instead having to bring an entire pack.

For Sleep Help

You want me coherent when I speak to your group? I need to sleep. Here’s one thing that helps me sleep: linen spray* in 2 ounce travel size.

I also picked up a tip from my friend (and Hamline roommate) Brandy Colbert who suggested using a white noise app. Try this one for iPhones.

Other Must-haves

    • The book I’m reading.
    • Bandaids, my daily medicines, hand sanitizer, and over the counter remedies for stomach trou
      Gadget case

      Gadget case*

      bles and allergies. You just never know.

    • A good carrying case* for my favorite pens and swag.
    • A case for my adaptors, flashdrives and other gadgets.

Where’s Meg off to this fall?

Be sure to check out my events calendar but a few bright spots include a week at the Highlights Foundation including a special session with Carolyn Dee Flores and Ellice Lee and a presentation with the Inprint Cool Brains! series in September. In October, I will visit the Sacred Heart Center in Richmond, which does so much good work, the Ohio Educational Library Media Association, and the Texas Book Festival.

If you happen to be in any of these spaces, be sure to come say hello!

*Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you use them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I post them for your convenience and hope you will make your purchases where you are most comfortable. 

Meg Medina

Author Meg Medina

I'm Meg Medina, author of libros for kids of all ages. I'm the 2019 Newbery medalist for Merci Suárez Changes Gears. I write strong girls, tough circumstances, and the connecting power of culture. Thanks for visiting my blog!

More posts by Meg Medina

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Ann Dallman says:

    Best column ever! Thank you, Meg. I appreciate how specific you were with each suggestion–I will check out many of the products you references. Thank you! P.S. Your travel adventures sound amazing!

  • Hi Meg. It’s always great to read your blog. Your travel tips cover a wide range of issues which I find very instructive.
    One thing I would add to the PreChek suggestion is for international travel. GlobalEntry is similar to PreChek and is issued by the same gov’t agency but allows for streamlining the customs process upon returning to the US.
    I’ve used it and can attest to its time saving attributes.
    Happy trails.
    Richard B

    • Meg Medina says:

      Richard! Thank you for adding this suggestion! I will be traveling abroad in the spring, and I will definitely look into it.

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