This is the first of a series of (almost) random thoughts on what I have learned about making oneself more comfortable, as well as saving money, on long shopping routes. To me, a long route is four or more nights on the road.
Today’s chapter is brought to you by the letter L; L is for lunch, laundry and pillows, which qualifies just because it has two Ls! This is all about advice with attitude, after all.
One of the most common mistakes that new route shoppers make is to plan to do lunch on the road as a shop. Veteran route shoppers know that this can only spell disaster. Inevitability, the morning timetable will delay your arrival, or the service will be so slow that your afternoon timetable will be DOA. Here are a few low cost alternatives to a lunch shop. Use the free breakfast at your hotel to make lunch. Grab fresh fruit, a couple of slices of bread, a hard-boiled egg or two, fill your travel mug with juice, coffee or tea, add ice and you almost have lunch. Keep a small supply of condiments from fast food places in your travel kit so that you can make egg salad using mayo, salt, pepper and mustard to taste. My GPS will find roadside amenities where I can even relax at a picnic table if I have the time. Or, find a Wawa or Sheetz station and enjoy reliably fresh, inexpensive prepared sandwiches while using your rewards card for discounts on beverages. Or, pack one of those sealed packets of tuna or salmon that do not need refrigeration, and make that into a sandwich or add it to a FF salad.
I find “packing light” to be an essential. The video gear, food and beverage supplies and other non-clothing essentials cannot be reduced without greatly increasing the cost of a trip. So “light” means taking fewer cloths and doing some laundry along the way. I plan my overnight stops for moderately priced hotels with laundry facilities on site. As a bonus, some are even free. But if you buy the packaged detergent on site you will pay a hefty price. I pack 3-4 of the little blister packs of “one dose” laundry detergent, sealed in double Ziplock bags. They have such a powerful “fresh” smell, and I do not want that transmitted to my travel food! Add a couple of plastic hangers to you kit and you are ready to refresh your wardrobe.
Take your favorite pillow! A good night of sleep on the road is essential to preserving your productivity. Lumpy hotel pillows, flat hotel pillows, not enough hotel pillows; all spell doom for your sleep. In addition, that pillow can be a safety device. If you find yourself about to nod off while driving, pull over. Set your phone’s alarm; recline the seat; place pillow as needed; nap for 20 minutes.