Guest post by: Giulia Traverso

Okay, so… by now, if you’ve been reading my posts, you know I’m obsessed with stuff like eating well, lowering my plastic consumption, exercising and staying fit. And you might have also guessed that I’m a tad obsessed with TO-DO lists, routines and consistent habits in general. That said, I often have to travel – for work and play. And we all know how tough travel makes it to stick to routines. 

So, how does a person dealing with OCD pack her luggage in the attempt to make her habits as sustainable as possible while traveling? Here’s my list of “non-negotiable” items when I’m on the road.

1) Homemade food. One of the main things that vegan and waste-free bloggers recommend is to not eat food on the plane and to pack your own. This is supposedly to decrease plastic consumption and consume less chemicals and preservatives. I also prefer to prepare and make my own food as backup because I find that airplane food isn’t super yummy.  Normally, the day before a flight, I cook two portions of quinoa and zucchini, eat one and pack the other portion in a jar. By the time I arrive at the security checkpoint at the airport, some steam has been released and the inside of the jar looks a little watery. I always take it out of my bag and put it together with the electronic devices.  This isn’t enough and the weird jar with liquid inside always catches the attention of the people at the metal detector, who stop my bag and call the police. The two policemen can’t recognise the nature of that meal and ask me what this is. “It’s quinoa with zucchini and that’s the steam that was formed overnight”. I see they’re not convinced. They look at each other and I just know they’re not gonna let the jar pass. I panic. “Oh my God, what am I going to eat now?” Then inspiration comes through me and out of nowhere, with a very coy tone and facial expression that somehow comes naturally, I say: “I’m vegan!” The two policeman roll their eyes upward, then look at me with compassion and understanding as if I told them I’m Forrest Gump. That’s when they give me back my quinoa and zucchini jar and let me go.

2) Soap bar. This is a new entry on the OCD list of the items I need to pack. That’s because I just recently took on the resolution to reduce my plastic consumption. Transitioning to a soap bar and giving up my favourite lavender shower gel was really hard. Now showering doesn’t feel like magic anymore, it just makes me clean. I pack the soap bar… in a little plastic box. I know. I know I said I want to decrease my plastic intake, but I really couldn’t find a proper aluminum box that fits the size of the soap bar I use. Anyway, the box I did find looks strange when it passes through the metal detector and they always double check. When they open the box and smell lavender (of course I still buy the lavender-scented soap bar), the people at security feel relieved (and a little relaxed) and let me go.

3) Ankle weights. I have a gym membership and I usually don’t work out at home. Of course, travelling doesn’t mean I’m entitled to skip exercise. Traveling just means I resume my old at-home-no-thrills workout I used to do before joining the gym. And this includes some leg and butt exercises with ankle weights (of one kilo each). There are two types of controllers at the airport security checkpoint  – those who have been to a gym before and know what ankle weights are… and those who haven’t. The first type lets me go. The second (oblivious) type wants me to open my luggage (I always forget to put the ankle weights on a separate tray together with the electronic devices). This is the moment where I lead by example and inform them that these things are useful if you want to firm your butt and get your workout done. You can see the breakthrough on their faces. The realisation that being consistent with sports is feasible even while travelling empowers them and, motivated by new hope, they let me go.

4) Supplements. I take a magnesium pill every day, which is very good for your muscles and helps with quick recovery after an intense workout. The only problem is that these are white pills sold in a big plastic jar. (Nobody seems to give a damn that I bought the big jar to save plastic.) Somehow airport security is only concerned with the fact that this looks a bit illegal, but still less threatening than the zucchini and quinoa jar, because they don’t call the police for this. They just look at the label and when they read “supreme magnesio” they feel reassured and let me go.

5) Immersion blender and kitchen knives in ceramic. When I went to New Zealand a couple of years ago, I brought an immersion blender and ceramic kitchen knives on the trip. How was I supposed to eat a smoothie every single day for breakfast and make my special homemade hummus with veggies without an immersion blender and the proper knives? No way was I going to give up cooking and settle for pre-packed food for three whole weeks! For such a long trip, I packed both the big suitcase and the hand luggage. The immersion blender and the knives went into the big suitcase, together with the ankle weights. Once we landed in Auckland, all luggage had to go through a detector to check whether we had food or not, including the large suitcases we checked. I was the calmest person on earth because I had eaten my quinoa and zucchini meal during the connection time in Hong Kong and had no more food with me. And my suitcase with the immersion blender and knives in it went through the security check without a hitch!

So there you have it. Here’s how to pack if you want to firm your butt, keep up with your eating disorders, and not live a zero-waste life (because the toothbrush, makeup and body lotion samples you packed are still wrapped in plastic). If you want to make this whole thing a little bit more sustainable, just make sure to arrive at the airport ahead of time so you can go through security “con calma”. 🙂

Now I’d love to hear how you pack your luggage! Are your habits and routines sustainable while you’re traveling? What are the non-negotiable items you always bring with you when travelling and why? Do your non-negotiables ever cause you trouble with airport security? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you’d like more blog posts about my OCD habits, please visit Breaking Thirty Dot Com!

Photo credit @emanuelapicone