In the last year I have spent approximately 180-190 nights in hotels, over HALF a year! Generally I’ve been privy to areas with standard lower tier hotels of big name brand chains like Hilton/Marriott/etc. In one case, I’ve been fortunate enough to have a little house, appropriately named The Tiny House, but for the most part this was a unique circumstance. So, I’ve learned to try to slim down as much as I can to the bare essentials and really evaluate what I NEED vs. what I WANT. I need to be able to pack up everything I have and fit the right Airline standards to travel up to every week and, of course, to stay under the 50lb weight restriction. One thing I’ll say is in the last few months I invested like $10 in a collapsible laundry basket and a rope to hang my clothes on to dry and i’m so so excited!!! Highlights of my non-food purchases for sure.
What I Need (Besides running water and electricity)
My Traveling Dresser (aka Suitcases) – Currently a large Swiss-Army suitcase, soon to be replaced. A lil mini Swiss-Army suitcase (about 2×2 feet) and my ultra-fancy, overly-expensive Nomatic Backpack that is waterproof, has 12312329 pockets and can either slide onto the handles of my suitcase or hide the straps to become a lil briefcase.
Clothes – They don’t matter to me. Until recently I only owned 1 pair of jeans, but my mom forced me to go shopping and get a second one, so now I have 2. I have 4 dress shirts, 5-6 T shirts (all the same exact Banana Republic semi-Vee necks in black or white, 2 dress pants and 6 sets of scrubs. I travel with tennis shoes, flip flops and always and only my Ariat cowboy boots. After careful thought, I invested in a beach towel that’s soft and says MAINE on it! It serves the purpose of both utility and souvenir-ness. Oh, and of course some socks, underwear, 1 sweatshirt and 1 jacket. Believe it or not, even though I have some boxes at my mom’s house in California, I travel with 80% of ALL the clothes I own – CA is just home to my winter wear, my suits and my dear Luccheses.
Travel Kitchen – I’m excited about this one. I even talked to one of my best friends about engineering a more consistent travel friendly kitchen, but that’s a different story. I always travel with:
– A collapsible colander
– A chef’s knife
– A can opener
– A small $1 cutting board
– A corkscrew
– A knife sharpener no larger than a coaster
Work-Related Things – My bible-sized Harriett Lane book for Pediatrics and about 3 or 4 folders that I keep basic notes for Clinic things (ADHD, Asthma, Skin Treatment) and Inpatient thing. And always my Stethoscope, Laptop and chargers, and pocket guides on how to try not killing people, duh.
Toiletries – If you don’t travel very much, it makes sense sometimes if you have particular soap or toothpaste you use; but, almost every town has some sort of Dollar Store (Dollar Tree is OBVIOUSLY the best because it sticks to it’s name vs. the damn Family Dollar that is usually MORE than $1), so I usually just buy what I need for a short stay. Basically a toothbrush, medication and limited First Aid stuff, just in case. Also, I’ve been saving the little cleaning wipes the airlines give you so i can try to sanitize my gross hotel rooms that are generally only mediocrely cleaned 🤮.
Air Conditioning – Not something I bring with me obviously, but probably the only non-traveling luxury besides running water and electricity that is super critical since I tend to work in super hot states.
What I miss or want or wish i had
A non-public washing machine and dryer – I’m basically back in college or the apartment days when I had to use the dorm laundry machine. Now, I know a lot of people in general aren’t fortunate enough to have their own at home, but as a Doctor, I mean, I think it’s not THAT unreasonable to want a private one!
A kitchen – I love to cook! I miss this the most. I can do limited things with my traveling kitchen and often times don’t have a heating surface, but I’m working on figuring that part out, even if it means I have to cook on an electric grill in clinic after hours!
Water pressure – There’s a method i’ve read or heard about years ago on picking hotel rooms (not that I’m super particular outside of wanting a top floor one when i’m at one place for more than 2 nights), but you really miss out with having poor water pressure if you’re one of the rooms far from the main water supply. Luckily most of the small towns i’m in have small hotels so it’s not as vastly variable as it may be at a bigger place.
A dog – Traveling alone is fine, but living alone in small cities over and over with not a whole lot around or many friends or people, and definitely not a partner of the opposite sex, is tiring. It would be nice to have a dog to play with, i’m sure I’d never stop moving around and never care that I’m single (forever) if that was the case.
So what really matters?
Not a lot. I don’t need a TV, a PS 5, a nice car, fancy decorations or furniture. You don’t need that much, and I’d even admit i’m a little ‘extra’ or ‘bougie’ sometimes and can still do this. Letting go of most material things allows for them to not tie me down, it allows for me to have a little more flexibility and acceptance of situations. But more importantly, the Dollar Tree is the best, always go there.