What kind of travel-size product consumer are you?

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Travel sizes, trial sizes, samples, small regular sizes — so many sizes! What size do you pack for your trip? Do you simply toss into your suitcase your regular-sized, daily use products at the last minute? Do you make special shopping trips to the Target travel size aisle and stock up your supply for your vacation? Do you save up complimentary hotel products for future trips? Do you wait until you reach your destination and hope for the best? It seems there’s a different travel-size behavior for every traveler.

First of all, let’s talk about trial sizes and samples. The only time I pack trial sizes would be for a one or two-night road trip, because trial sizes and samples probably won’t provide enough for any longer stays. However, sample colognes, hair treatments and lotions may be a really nice way to pamper yourself while on vacation or at the end of a long day after that out-of-town business seminar.

Some travelers just have to use their own personal products. Of course, if you need specialized hair and skin products because of dermatologist’s recommendation, then you either pack your regular size products or buy refillable plastic travel size bottles to accommodate your specialized shampoos, lotions or soaps. I love my Cerave skin cream, but I’m not tempted to bring a five-gallon tub of it when I travel. My skin will survive a few days with a travel size Eucerin or Lubriderm or even a hotel product.

Some folks are like free spirits when it come to travel sizes. They pack their toothbrush and comb and then depend on the hotel or resort for shampoo, conditioner, soap and lotion… and they’re good to go… and stay. If they’re staying at a fairly decent hotel or resort, there’s no problem. Nicer hotels often will provide better lotions and mouthwash. Some may even make available an entire dental kit, with brush, paste, floss, mouthwash and denta-picks. Some luxury resorts may also provide more kits: shoe shine kit, sewing kit, shaving kit, nail care kit and eyeglass kit. There may even be a kit for kaboodles.

Travelers may find some nice locally-made products such as lotions and candles in the hotel gift shop. These make wonderful mementos. Also, there’s a lot to be said for discovering great new lotions and potions when traveling. It’s part of that “ooh-ahh” resort-spa travel experience. At the Wild Horse Pass Resort’s Aji Spa shop, I discovered an excellent, aromatic exfoliating foot soak. I couldn’t leave without buying some “to-go.”

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Some travelers like the luxury experience when they choose travel sizes. They will pack their expensive mini bottles of shampoos, conditioners, masks, rinses, mists and lotions in carefully packaged bottles from home. Some will shop onsite for the top local products. They may go to extra lengths to pack them — taping the bottles shut, wrapping in plastic wrap, putting them in waterproof bags then packing them in upscale, luggage-coordinated hanging toiletry bags and shaving kits.

Other travelers are more practical. These folks like to plan their travel size packing, comparing products’ weight, mass, volume, “leak-ability” and make purchases according to trip length. That’s the category I’m putting myself. (Okay, I may be a bit OCD when it comes to travel sizes.) Occasionally, I’m really happy with a certain shampoo I’m currently using, so I’ll buy a refillable container for that, and maybe one for a conditioner. Soaps and shower gels: I’m not so picky. I usually just use whatever the hotel housekeeping staff sets out on the bathroom counter.

For deodorants and anti-perspirants, it’s another scenario. I used to buy a “travel size” but then I realized: the regular size of my favorite deodorant is usually not much larger than the travel size. It doesn’t make much sense to buy a special travel size when the regular size is sold for much less per ounce. And the regular size weighs only two ounces more than the travel size. Next time I see my brand at CVS on sale two-for-one, I’ll grab one for my bathroom cabinet and the other for my travel bag. The same point can be made for hand sanitizer. The small, regular hand sanitizer isn’t much larger than the itsy-bitsy travel size hand sanitizer. Why would you need this miniscule orb rolling around in your luggage or carry-on? Items that small go into some sort of trans-dimensional portal in my bag and are never seen again.

With toothpaste, it’s a toss up. If you’re bringing only a carry-on, you’re required to carry the one-ounce toothpaste, rather than the small regular six ounce size tube. But if you’re checking your bags, a few extra ounces of paste may not make a difference. I could go either way. I don’t know if you’re like me, but I can make a travel size tube of paste last a long, long time.

Now you can’t say the same for mouthwash. It’s a no brainer. Few travelers I know will carry a big jug of mouthwash with them in any kind of luggage. You almost have to get the travel size of Scope, Listerine or other brand. Refillable bottles don’t work well for mouthwash. You may need two or three of these travel size mouthwash bottles — since an ounce and a half of Scope mouthwash is probably only enough for a two mornings. Listerine has a 3.2 ounce size but, if you have a carry-on, what do you do with the 0.2 ounce? Gulp it while waiting in the security line just so your breath is minty fresh for the TSA agent?

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Common sense will dictate your travel size product usage. Just ask yourself: Do I need to take my specialized products? How long is my trip? Can I buy items upon arrival? Can I use hotel products? Do I need to be concerned about additional weight and mass in my luggage?

Finally, some hotels have discontinued various complimentary bath and shower products over the years. Some of these I really miss. Holiday Inn used to provide a light but long-lasting hand and body lotion in some of its properties that smelled like a Creamsicle. Los Abrigados Resort’s Sedona Spa line of products at one time included a wonderful coconut-scented shampoo — and it was so rich and creamy. Fortunately most big name resorts often offer their products in online shops. That way, you can purchase that “ooh-ahh” spa experience for your own home.

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Airline flight packing tips to ease strain on wallet and back

Thank you to free, Microsoft Office Images.

Packing for your next vacation? What will you take? If you’re flying, there’s much to consider. Should you only use a carry-on or check your bags? You can find an abundance of tips online to help eliminate possibility of excess airline fees — and back strain.

When I was packing for my recent 10-day vacation to the United Kingdom, I decided to use the simplest methods possible — packing only what I thought was absolutely necessary — at least so I thought. I had not packed enough of some items, and had over-packed with other non-essentials. Packing for an international vacation is like any other trip. You want the least amount of weight in the smallest suitcase, but you want to take it all! Packing simply requires a lot of common sense and a little ingenuity. I know many of my readers who are experienced travelers have tons of tips. Feel free to add these to comments below and help me improve — for my next trip!

Make a list. Check it twice. (Sorry.) Categorize your list first by items such as clothes, outerwear, shoes, toiletries, medicines, hats, documents, electronics, etc. Then rearrange your list for each bag or container: carry-on, checked bag (if necessary), personal item, pockets.

Layout your items on a flat surface. See how much you’re really going to pack in your suitcase before actually start loading it up. This will avoid unpacking and repacking. If your suitcase has been in the closet, storage unit or garage, check it for stowaway critters such as scorpions. I was stung while packing for a Mexico trip a couple of years ago, and I’ve read accounts that passengers have been stung after boarding a flight.

Consider each item before tossing it mindlessly in your luggage. Ask yourself: Do I really need this? What happens if I don’t take it? Can I buy it at my destination? For example, I probably don’t need a full-size shower gel or a large bottle of Tylenol. I can survive with a smaller amount for a week long trip.  Lotions, shampoos, conditioners, sprays, goos, pastes, gels — all of these pile on the luggage weight. Consider packing basics such as comb, toothbrush and paste, floss, deodorant, shavers, moisturizer and a little bit of makeup. You can probably purchase the remaining sundries at your destination.

Make good use of your shoes. Use Oxfords, sneakers and boots as containers for socks, belts, phone chargers and other small or even breakable items. I usually wear my heaviest footwear — such as sneakers — to the airport, just because I never know when I’ll be spending most of the day on my feet, or running through the airport. Then I’ll pack a pair of dressy shoes, boots or sandals, depending on my destination. My other only footwear is a pair of flip-flops which I pack in the outer, zip compartment of my soft-sided, zippered suitcase. Along with one magazine, these add some stability to my aging, worn suitcase.

If you can, try to eliminate the checked bag and only use a carry-on bag and personal item. I prefer a soft-sided rolling duffel, but currently for most week or 10 day trips, I use a  rectangle case measuring about 20 x 14 by 6 inches. It’s small and light enough for me to lift on to the security check conveyor and the plane’s overhead compartment. Most airlines restrict the carry-on size to 22 x 14 by 9. Many passengers really try to push the envelope with those “expandable” carry-on bags. You know who you are.

My personal item is either a larger “hobo” bag or a smaller backpack which will fit under the airline seat. Personal bag contents: Wallet with one credit card, passport, cell phone, Chromebook, camera, sunglasses, headphones, tissues, prescriptions, mints, water and snacks. If I will need to check a piece of luggage, and I have room in my personal item, I will consider packing a change of clothing.

photo (8)Consider getting rid of the “purse” and packing a small cross-body bag for use at your destination. I pack away small purse in my carry-or my personal item. I bought a small camera backpack in which I would put all my valuables and personal items. It’s a CaseLogic DSLR pack I found on Amazon that not only carries all my gear in neat and compact accessory compartments and zippered pockets, but also fits nicely under the the airline seat. This backpack also fits my Chromebook very neatly. Okay, it may weigh a few pounds, especially when I add a bottle of water, extra lenses and snacks, but I’d much rather tuck a bit of weight underneath my seat and carry it on my back, than attempt to hoist a larger, heavier pack above my head to the overhead bin and strain my back and shoulder pulling it in tow. (Sigh, I guess I’m either too proud or stingy to use a SmarteCarte.)

Carry-on (or checked bag if absolutely necessary) contents: shirts, pants, dresses, skirts, sweaters, jackets — and roll them up tightly — even those unmentionables. I’m not sure if this is something to brag about, but I can fit 10 pairs of rolled undies into a quart size Ziplock bag. Rolls of clothes can wrap around every curve and cubbyhole of your luggage.  If you’re unsure about your destination’s weather, plan to dress in layers.

Pack apparel that can do double duty. For instance, maybe a nice performance workout tank can double as a tankini swimsuit top. Or maybe gym shorts can substitute as swim trunks.

My goal is to save money, and save my back — eliminate the excess: Less to pack, less to tote, less to lose, less to worry about on your vacation.

Thank you to free, Microsoft Office Images.

Who has packing tips and suggestions? I would love to hear some of yours!

Planning a vacation? Don’t forget the music!

Don't forget to pack the travel tunes on your next trip

Travel and music: Two of my passions. One almost always makes me think about the other. When I pack for a trip, before I think about clothes,  I think about what music I will bring. There’s too much about the entire subject of travel tunes, road trip music, vacation songs, to cover in one blog. It’s a bit overwhelming to think about.

We have music for: leaving home, coming home, moving or staying. We have music for trucking, biking, hiking, riding, driving, boating and flying. There are long lonesome highway songs for solo trips or happy sing-along songs for family vacations.

There are songs about cross-country explorations, exotic destinations and global nations. Many songs have been recorded about boats, RVs, trains, planes and automobiles. We use music for our highways and byways, toll roads and freeways, back roads and interstates.

Out of state visitors bring travel tunes about Arizona. What’s the first song that comes to mind when you think of Arizona road trips? Is it Take It Easy from the Eagles? By the Time I Get to Phoenix from Glen Campbell? Several songs are entitled, “Arizona” – most popular are those from Mark Lindsay, Kings of Leon and The Scorpions. Hundreds of popular songs give a simple reference Arizona — a lot about Tucson: “…take me down to Tucson…” or “…all roads lead back to Tucson…”

Great vacation memories can be created with music. It’s another form of souvenir. Those slack key guitar tunes bring back images of Hawaii. Reggae, ska and calypso remind me of Caribbean islands. Many of us have a loaded up a separate playlist for each aspect of traveling – for soaking rays on the beach, sitting around the campfire or driving along desolate highways. Travel songs have the ability to prompt a personal memory. For instance, whenever I hear Allman Brothers: Jessica, I’m always reminded of driving through northwestern Ohio at sunrise, on my way from home back to college. Another Allman Brothers song: Little Martha, makes me think of a sunset drive along a stretch of State Route 288 between Young and Globe.

Road-trip music also has a practical side. It can keep us awake if we’re getting sleepy. In the days before Red Bull, 5-Hour Energy and Starbucks Double Shot Espresso, we’d have to turn up the volume on the radio, 8-track, cassette tape or CD player. Or sing — yikes! We’d have to pop in a song to energize us while that truck stop coffee was still taking effect. Songs like Golden Earring’s Radar Love have kept many night drivers alert. What worked for me: Poco’s Grand Junction, Tom Cochrane’s Life is a Highway or Little Feat’s Let It Roll. They create a high energy highway driving mood.

When traveling to my favorite weekend getaway spots, I like to compile songs about the journeys and the destinations: Songs from Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers for Puerto Penasco. Mark Mulligan’s music for San Carlos. Then I mix in some Mariachi and traditional Mexican music to enjoy while I’m there. For beach escapes, I combine indigenous island musical styles and artists with popular ex-pat, ‘trop rock’ or ‘island country’ anthems.

Hundreds of music databases containing thousands of songs with dozens of key words are there for the exploring. You can come up with your favorite travel tunes playlists. Check websites and blogs for lists of music. Look at others’ compilations on iTunes or Spotify. One website has 885 road trip songs to review.

Great music makes miles pass quickly

 

Here are some of my favorite travel tunes — they’re recordings that make me think of traveling, destinations, or its music I just like to listen to while driving down the road.

Americano – Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers

Back to the Island – Leon Russell

Blood Pressure – Mute Math

Blue Boat Home – Peter Mayer

Boats – Kenny Chesney

Calamity Song – The Decemberists

The Coast – Court Yard Hounds

Counterclockwise – Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers

Dig a Little Deeper – Peter Bjorn

Eastern Standard Time – Skatalites

El Rayo-X – David Lindley

Evangelina – Hoyt Axton

Grand Junction – Poco

Hana – Ozzie Kotani

Heaven or the Highway out of Town – Refreshments

Hitchin a Ride – Green Day

Ho Hey – Lumineers

Island in the Sun – Weezer

Last Ride In – Green Day

Little Martha – Allman Brothers

Love is the Seventh Wave – Sting

Manana – Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers

Mercury Blues – David Lindley

Olinda Road – Hapa

Place in the Sun – Darden Smith

Roam – B52s

Soak up the Sun – Sheryl Crow

Texas Tango — David Lindley

These Roads Don’t Move – Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard

Toes – Zac Brown Band

Up Up Up – Givers

Welcome to Paradise – Green Day

What I Got – Sublime

You are a Tourist – Death Cab for Cutie

Readers: what’s on your road trip playlist? Or your flight mix? Please use the comment section below. I’m always looking for new music for traveling!

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Road trip vacation tips and resources

stockphoto from MS Office Images

Let’s face it: Summer driving in Arizona deserts can wreak havoc on our vehicles, temperament and wallet. Once again I have compiled some hot weather driving prevention measures, safety precautions and travel tips from which we can all benefit:

Car check. The best time to “summerize” your vehicle was probably back in April, before the temperatures soar above 100 degrees. But if you’re just getting around to it; don’t forget to:

  • inspect your tires for wear and proper pressure. (Don’t forget the spare tire too!)
  • flush radiator and add new coolant
  • check your battery (Arizona heat allows a battery life of about two years — if you’re lucky!)
  • replace windshield wipers (It’s easy to forget about doing anything with wipers until the first heavy monsoon rain.)
  • check oil condition, level and filters
  • replace air filter
  • fix windshield dings and cracks, or replace windshield if necessary (you know how these grow and expand during extended freeway driving)

Emergency car kit. You probably should carry these items year-round, but they are especially important if you plan a motor vacation. Include:

  • duct tape
  • black electrical tape
  • flashlight with fresh batteries
  • jumper cables
  • safety vest
  • tow rope
  • water for radiator
  • flares
  • cell phone and auto or solar charger
  • first aid kit with motion sickness pills (for the passengers in back)
  • umbrella, hat and sunblock (in case you breakdown in an unshaded area)
  • drinking water and nonperishable food items (crackers, nuts – items that won’t melt)
  • car towels, rags for handling clean ups
  • “Ove Glove” for handling hot surfaces like the steering wheel
  • windshield shade (so you won’t need to use the aforementioned Ove Glove)

Avoid distractions. Keep kids busy with activity packets and travel games. Stow away cell phones or allow use by passengers only! Absolutely no texting or phone calls while driving! Load those DVDs for the backseat,  “Radar Love” travel tunes and audio books BEFORE you start driving.

Navigation aids: GPS, maps, itineraries, etc. (Don’t throw away those paper maps yet! They can still be used as backups.) Get the latest road trip travel apps and updates for your iPhone or Android. Find out how to access the current highway construction locations and roadway conditions? Call 5-1-1 in Arizona or visit the Arizona Dept. of Transportation website.

Other important stuff: Never leave home without: driver’s license, car insurance papers, automobile club identification card, credit cards, passports for driving outside the US. Plus, keep photocopies of all these documents in a separate location.

More driving vacation resources and information:

1. Don’t forget about Fido! Here’s my blog post about pet travel.

2. Get to know ADOT’s Highway Hawk.

3. Information about motorist Freeway Services from Arizona Dept. of Public Safety.

4. Road trip tips with many good suggestions from Fodor’s reader forums.

5. Great info on a variety of motoring topics from the forum page at Roadtrip America.

Readers: This is just a partial list of road trip packing lists, driving necessities and services. What’s on your list?

 

Rocky Point beach condo packing list ‘extras’

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Beach condo family vacations can be the most memorable.

So your vacation condo listing advises: “just bring swimsuit and toothbrush” but I’m sure you’ll probably want to bring a few more items. We’re getting ready for another beach vacation to Puerto Penasco, Sonora, Mexico so I thought a post about packing for a beach condo would be apropos. If you’ve made several trips to Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) and have stayed at the condo resorts, you’re already aware of these tips. But even a seasoned condo guest may benefit from our list:

1. Extra coffee filters

Call me a control freak, but I like to bring extra filters from home. The condo may provide one or two, but if you need more, it can be a hassle. Forget to buy them on your back from town, and you’ll find yourself fashioning a makeshift filter out of paper towels or napkins. That’s why I bring a few both standard cone and basket filter types for most 12-cup coffee makers. After all, you’re on vacation — you shouldn’t have to work for your morning coffee.

2. Extra kitchen tie-type garbage bags

The condo or timeshare may provide a few bags, or your resort may provide daily towel and ‘tidy’ service. Nevertheless, trash has a way of doubling in size at check out time. Yes, you always could try to find a housekeeper with spare bags or maybe call up the front desk to send some up. It’s easier to just stick a few extras in your bag – they can always be used for wet swim suits, towels or sandy sneakers.

3. Small bottles of dish and laundry detergent, and liquid hand soap

Chalk this under the “why make an extra trip to the store this when you could be sitting on the beach and it costs three times what it’s worth at the resort mini-mart” column. I know, housekeeping is supposed to restock this stuff, but I think it’s just easier to bring small amounts to have on hand.

4. Plastic cups for the pool

With your own plastic cups or sports bottles, you can bring your own drink down from the room. You don’t have to worry about hiding a can or bottle under a Kan Koozie. (You wouldn’t bring glass to the pool anyway.) At the end of your stay, you can use plastic cups with lids for transporting home the kids’ seashells.

5. Insulated tote back or soft cooler

Resort management heavily frowns upon bringing your 120-quart ice chest down to the pool, setting it up next to the swim-up bar and serving 100 of your friends. So keep it classy and exercise a little decorum. For this reason, we love our small, soft cooler that resembles a backpack or beach tote.

6. Binoculars

At one condo we rented, the owner provided a spotting scope. It was great for viewing the ocean sights! Binoculars come in handy for those long distance views over the Sea of Cortez, keeping an eye out for early morning dolphins while you enjoy your coffee on the balcony. Bring a pair to the beach to watch kids on the banana boat, sailboats on the horizon, or to see if that crazy guy hanging out of the ultralight is someone you know.

7. Favorite foods and beverages

Although it’s not necessarily true of all parts of Mexico: some American products are really hard to find in Rocky Point grocery stores. So we often bring our favorite brands for wine, dark chocolate, club soda, English muffins, craft beer, apples, tea and cheese. Just about everything else is available at the Super Ley.

8. Folding camp chairs

Here’s why you may want to bring a few extra chairs: 1) Beach sand can get really warm! It’s too hot to sit on a little towel or even one of those grass mats for very long! 2) Chaises under the beach palapas can get very crowded during summer months and 3) poolside chairs also will be in heavy demand.

What’s on your beach vacation packing list?

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Beach condo vacations can be relaxing with a little planning

Health benefits of traveling with tea

tea and travel

Travel with tea for health and wellness

 

You’re apt to find an online packing list for every type of getaway, business trip, family vacation or around-the-world tour. And no doubt, there’s a ton of information and websites about healthy traveling and handy remedies for the traveler. Rather than packing a little of this or that for each and every malady, you may find relief for many common travel ailments in your kitchen canister – tea.

On a recent airline flight, I was bothered by an eye infection and I tried treating it with eye drops without much success. My sister-in-law had suggested using a cooled, used tea bag, placed over the eye. So on my return trip, after enjoying a cup of Earl Grey, I placed the warm bag over my eye for several minutes. “This is really working!” I remembered, thinking how soothing it was. And drinking a cup of the tea seemed to improve my general malaise.

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Teapigs English Breakfast Tea, a favorite my son brought back from Cambridge, UK

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This had me thinking: there must be lots of other ways tea can benefit travelers, so I consulted local tea expert and restaurateur, Glynis Legrand. Glynis, who owns Urban Tea Loft in downtown Chandler, has been a longtime advocate of the health benefits of tea. Glynis agrees: tea is perfect for traveling, and in addition to being a tasty beverage, can be used to energize, relax, relieve congestion, refresh from heat, calm stress, alleviate inflammation and soothe sore muscles.

As a pick-me-up, Glynis recommends Yerba Mate (pronounced mah-tay), derived from leaves of a Brazilian rainforest plant. It has energizing qualities that are different than the caffeine in black tea or coffee.

“With Yerba Mate, there’s no caffeine crash,” Glynis explained, “rather you step down gradually from the energy lift from Yerba Mate.”

The feeling of alertness would be perfect for business travelers trying to work on a long flight, but would still like to relax once they reached their destination, she added. Black tea, with caffeine is also beneficial. It’s the more palatable and popular of the two teas, and blends well with many different flavors.

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mango orange

Mango Orange Tea from Hawaii's Island Plantations

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According to Glynis, a variety of herbal teas will help accomplish relaxation after a long flight or road trip. Chamomile is the most popular. And to counter anxiety of travel, such as delayed flights, fear of flying or other travel stressors; a cup of calming, warm hibiscus tea will work.

Traveling can be hard on digestion too. Rooibos or other red teas will not only aid digestion but also act as an antioxidant. Rooibos has no caffeine and may be mixed with milk for children with stomach upset, said Glynis. Or it could sipped as an after-dinner drink. Mixing Rooibos tea with water in a small spray bottle is an ideal way to refresh the skin and hair.

With their antioxidant properties, warm green teas will fend off respiratory infections such as colds — extremely helpful for air travelers. And green teas will relieve accompanying congestion, too. They also provide relief for painful joints and muscles resulting from heavy suitcase lifting, stand in long lines or sitting for long periods on trains, planes and automobiles. Steeping green tea bags in warm water creates a soothing foot soak, added Glynis.

After your long flight, train or car ride, you’ve finally reached your destination and checked into your room. Again, consider tea’s advantages; nothing works better to relax and calm than a long soak in a lavender tea bath. Just the aroma itself slows the nervous system, promotes relaxation and a good night’s sleep — all very valuable to the frequent traveler.

Some teas pack better than others. For example, Matcha tea, a Japanese tea used in ceremonies travels well because it comes in a powder form, which can be added to water, or even stirred into lemonade.

“Matcha tea is very high in antioxidants,” said Glynis, “it has six times as much as other green teas.” Glynis advised green or black teas should not be packed in clear plastic bags, because sunlight and UV rays will degrade the tea. Instead, travelers can stow tea in a opaque, airtight container. For brewing tea ‘on the go,’ Glynis suggests a portable tea infuser like the Tuffy Steeper, a collapsible, packable strainer.

Readers: I would love to get your input about healthy travel. What items do you pack to keep healthy and stay comfortable while traveling?