By Jordi Shelton (Epsilon Tau, Virginia Tech), Traveling Consultant
If someone asked me three months ago what I’d identify as the keys to successful for full-time travel, I probably wouldn’t have come up with a list as comprehensive and hard-hitting as the one I’m about to share. After just two and a half short months on the road and in the air, in addition to some priceless consultation from my coworkers, I’ve complied what I believe to be the ultimate list of unsung heroes for your neighborhood chapter consultant.
I was a textbook overpacker before my days as a consultant. Four pairs of shoes for a weekend trip? Naturally! Twelve sweaters for a sleepover? I need options! A bathing suit for a trip to Massachusetts in February? You never know!
I like to think I’ve outgrown my hyper-prepared tendencies, but for those stretches of travel in which I have no choice but to bring most of my wardrobe, I rely heavily on packing cubes. They’re a great way to somewhat overpack AND save space!
I like to think I’ve got packing down to a science, but I always weigh my bags before heading to the airport. There is nothing more frustrating than rearranging your suitcases on the floor of a busy airport. My luggage scale lives perpetually in my carry-on and has saved me from overpacking one suitcase countless times.
The only downside of packing cubes is that they don’t exactly keep clothes wrinkle-free. Thank Hera for my travel steamer—small enough to fit in a carry-on and efficient enough to make even the most wrinkly of dresses recruitment ready.
Xpress Spa in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Terminal D
I’m going to keep this one short and sweet: that 15-minute massage is a bargain and layover lifesaver.
The night before a flight, you can find me in the nearest Target with a basket full of BarkThins, Goldfish, peanut butter and dried mango. I’ve learned to always travel with snacks handy. Airport snacks might be fancy, but I’d rather avoid sinking $20 into a subpar PB&J when I could stock my backpack with my favorites ahead of time!
That One Cardigan
There is an equal chance of it being wrapped around my waist, on my shoulders or tucked into my carry-on. It’s warm, but not hot. Stylish, but not over the top. It’s slightly oversized with roomy pockets and was on sale at a Target in Michigan. Perfect for drafty airports and cool morning walks to the local Starbucks to grind out a report!
A friend from home told me to find a podcast with a new episode each day and incorporate it into my daily routine. I currently have three or four on rotation—their intro music becoming my newest morning alarm. The sounds of NPR’s “Up First” and my travel steamer warming up are my cue that it’s time to start the day.
Hydro Flask #3
Yes, truly, number 3. I have managed to lose two Hydro Flasks since starting my job as a chapter consultant, but it is probably one of the only things I’ll ever immediately replace. Not a lot of water bottles can keep your ice water icy for a cross-country flight and then some! Really, though, any insulated water bottle will do. Hydration is key!
Consistency in a job that keeps me constantly on the go is a must. One of the strongholds of consistency is Starbucks—the same smell, menu and snack selection from coast to coast. It’s like reconnecting with an old friend every time I walk in the door!
I’ll take a grande Pike Place with soy milk and two pumps of caramel. Oh, and some ice water in Hydro Flask #3. Not sure why, but I’m convinced Starbucks has some of the best water in the country.
Objectively better than a regular phone call. I take my friends and family on regular tours of my current cities and chapter houses!
Postmates & Uber Eats
I don’t play favorites. They’re both excellent and arguably the most utilized apps on my phone besides Outlook. Shout out to the Los Angeles Postmate that delivered poke bowls three times with zero judgement during my stay at UCLA!
My AXOCC Team & Houseparty App
It’s 8 p.m. in Lincoln, Nebraska and I’m in the hotel lobby with a Postmates coffee and my laptop in tow. I’m feeling a little lonely and overwhelmed when a notification pops up on Houseparty. Then another. Before I know it, I’m in a group video call with my consultant team.
We’re all in different time zones on different types of visits, making time to catch up with our sisters. We’re laughing and crying, swapping stories and sharing advice. Suddenly, I don’t feel so lonely anymore. Maybe that report can wait until tomorrow.