Having recently returned from a trip to Portugal which involved 24 hours of travel and a possible case of bedbugs, let’s just say that reducing travel stress is on my mind. Much as I would have liked to, I couldn’t pack my massage therapist in my suitcase (although my husband would claim it was big enough!). But I was able to pack one essential item: my lacrosse ball.
Why the Lacrosse Ball?
Every PT, pilates instructor, and massage therapist I have seen in the last 5 years has advised me to get one item. And you already know what it is. Purchased as part of a five-pack from Dick’s Sporting Goods, my lacrosse balls are in weekly use for working out neck tweaks, mid-back/shoulder tweaks, and glute/piriformis/hip flexor tweaks. Although you might start to look at it as an instrument of torture, the lacrosse ball has literally dissolved a few neck tweaks (in my case by rolling it up and down my shoulder blades between me and a wall) and definitely has taken the edge off an angry piriformis.
Better yet, the lacrosse ball is small and easily packed. It’s travel-sized without trying!
What Else Should You Take?
Take a neck pillow. No matter how you work it sleeping on a plane is not comfortable, and you’re going to wake up feeling tweaky. A neck pillow will not eliminate neck tweak if you’re prone to it, but it can reduce it. I have an inflatable neck pillow from REI, and it’s one of my all-time favorite travel purchases.
Also consider sleeping pills, but talk to your doctor to figure out if they’re right for you. I generally don’t take them on the plane, but those first few nights adjusting to the time change in a new country can be hard, and sleeping pills can help. There are a few different options, some with more manageable side effects than others, so like I said — check with your doctor to find out what might be best for you.
What About When You Get Back?
Try to save some sleeping pills (if your doctor prescribed them) in case you have troubles on re-entry. But more importantly, and after my own personal bedbug fiasco, as soon as you walk into your home, put all of your clothes that you took on your trip in your washing machine, and put your suitcase in a garbage bag and SEAL IT until you can deal with it. (Do a little google search — heat kills bedbugs, so make sure you put as much as you can in your dryer for at least 15 minutes.) Then take a shower (dumping the clothes you wore on the plane in the washer). I cannot emphasize how much easier it is to do this than it is to realize the next day you have a bed bug bite and that you have to decontaminate your whole house because of a few hitchhikers that you aren’t 100% sure are even going to stick around. Plus the garbage bag option is much cheaper than the steam cleaner/chemical option we just shelled out $500 for. I will say my house has never been cleaner but it’s been a full-time job for two weeks!
Also, schedule a massage for yourself. Travel is hard on a body, and now that you’re home, you need to work out some kinks.