5 Random Things I Love About Traveling

Early last week, I flew to Los Angeles to tape an upcoming TV appearance (so mysterious, I know) and spent the rest of the week working from our West Coast office. It was busy and kind of stressful because I was attempting to function on dual time zones (my body/mind was perpetually confused about what time it actually was). However, it was also really nice to bask in the ever present California sunshine, witness a few epic sunsets (bottom right), see some friends (bottom left, showing off John DeVore’s first driver’s license), and eat real Mexican food. It also gave me an opportunity to appreciate the random things I happen to enjoy about traveling. Check them out after the jump!

1. Travel-sized products. For starters, I’m a sucker for anything miniature. So adorable! But what I really love about travel-sized beauty/styling products is that they allow me to sample products that have caught my eye but I don’t feel confident enough in to buy full-size just yet. Gone are the days when the only products you can buy in travel-sizes are shampoo/conditioner 2-in-1s; nowadays, brands are making mini versions of many of their popular products, including styling foams/gels/goops/serums. I picked up a travel-sized bottle of John Frieda’s 3-Day Straightening Spray (top right) before my trip to LA and was delighted to discover that it did a great job of keeping the kink out of my wavy hair for that day between washings. Once themini bottle is empty, I’ll splurge on the big one.

2. How much can change in that week away. For the last, oh, year and a half, there’s been a fancy-pants mini grocery store under construction in the building down the street from my apartment. It was supposed to open in fall 2011. And then spring 2012. And then summer 2012. Minor progress had been made over that 18 months, but not enough to awaken any enthusiasm laying dead in my heart at the thought of only having to walk half a block for groceries. And then I went to LA for a week and came back to find that the grocery store is, like, so much closer to being finished! There’s an almost finished facade! Glass floor-to-ceiling windows in place! Signs of life on the inside! The damn place may actually open before the end of the year! This is not the first time that I’ve gone out of town for a short trip and returned to massive changes in the infrastructure of my neighborhood, but it never ceases to amaze me.

3. Not making my bed. A lot of people never make their bed. As I’ve mentioned before, my OCD makes it impossible for me to leave the house without making my bed just so, nine pillows cascading from large to small in perfect order. A hotel is the only place on earth where I feel free from the tyranny of my bed-making urges. Sure, it probably has something to do with the fact that housekeeping will be stopping by every day to make it — and collect the wet towels I left on the bathroom floor — but still, it is a thrill to feel like a normal person who isn’t paralyzed by the thought of an uneven bedspread for a week.

Related: 5 Kinda Weird Ways My OCD Manifests Itself

4. Listening to the radio. Most of the places I travel to within the United States require me to rent a car. I haven’t had a car of my own since I moved to New York 11 years ago, and my experiences as a car owner were not too pleasant, so I’m glad to be free of the burden in my every day life. But I love driving when I’m out of town for one reason and one reason only — flipping through the channels on the radio. I have no interest in plugging in my iPod or putting in a CD — I love the suspense of not knowing what song is going to come on next when I station search. The best is when songs I haven’t heard in awhile and would never think to play on Spotify pop up while I’m cruising. This past week, I was especially psyched to hear:

  • Wyclef Jean’s “Guantanamera,” which reminds me so much of the summer after my freshman year of college, when I sold plants at the local county fair and got human shit on my hands (long story).
  • Metallica’s “Unforgiven,” a junior high throwback that makes me think of my 8th grade crush, a boy named Jon who once duped me into buying him a cocaine spoon from a head shop. I was 13!
  • Heart’s “Crazy On You,” a forever favorite that I always think I can sing along to, but can’t.

Yeah, I had to station surf for, like, hours in total to hear, like, 15 songs I lovvvvve over the course of the week, but still, the joy was in the surprise of hearing those familiar initial refrains pumping through my rental car’s stereo. Bliss.

5. Spending money counts less. Hear me out on this one. Technically, this is bullshit. Spending $138 on a blazer at Madewell in Los Angeles is the same as spending $138 on a blazer at Madewell in New York. However! Let’s say you’re traveling for fun. You’ve probably saved up a chunk of money for that trip, right? You put aside funds — separate from the funds you use to pay for necessities like rent and bills and stuff in your normal life — to pay for your awesome vacation and you’re buying that Madewell blazer from those funds, in theory, so it’s not like you’re spending necessities money. That money is supposed to be spent on fun and games and white tuxedo blazers. To not spend it would be wasting. You budgeted that money specifically for fun shit, so, like, don’t feel guilty. This theory is even more airtight when I’m traveling for work, when all of my basic living expenses — food, transportation, etc. — that I would be paying for at home are covered by the company. So, like, that week I’m out of town, I’m spending less than I would at home. So when I put what I’m saving towards a new Madewell blazer, it’s like getting it 75 percent off.

Allen Greenspan would obvs support this logic, y’all.