Toolie Travel Blog

A million-mile flyer talks about the life of a business traveler.

ToolieTravelBlog: A Survival Pack for Bad Weather Travel

While the Puget Sound region of Washington State has been spared most of the bad weather this year, the rest of the United States has been hit hard by snowstorm after snowstorm. I heard from a client today that his Eastern Pennsylvania home has 6-foot icicles hanging from the roofline, and that they've received 75 inches of snow.

Seattle had two bad years of snow in a row, and though I grew up in the Midwest and learned to drive in snow, because of our hilly neighborhood, we were housebound more than once. Cabin fever is bad enough at home, but it is really, really awful if you're stuck in an airport.

As business travelers, bad weather is often nipping at our travel plans. Having good "travel intel" on your destination is a must, and having some kind of backup plan is equally important.

But if, God forbid, you must travel in less than optimal weather, here are some suggestions for a light-weight travel pack containing items that might help you endure confinement in a snowed-in airport.

* Medications and Toiletries

Those who depend on medications on an ongoing basis are usually prepared with an extra dose stashed in pocket or purse. One way you can do that is will a "metal pill fob" that goes on your keychain. I have to say that this sometimes invites curiosity on the part of TSA, but if you open it and show them the pills, they're satisfied. I found one here on

It's bigger than average for those of you having to take big pills as well as lots of them.

One thing I've discovered over years of international travel is that bags go on their own adventures sometimes. The one thing I've never found in an airline-supplied toiletries kit is antiperspirant or deoderant. So I tuck a travel-size stick deoderant in my carry-on bag just in case. The rest I can get in an airline kit, or do without.

* Food and Water

I never seem to get stuck where there's plenty of food; it's always late at night or early in the morning. I keep 1 or 2 food bars in my carry-on bag to tide me over. I've also discovered that I like a particular brand of trail mix when traveling, so I pick up a bag whenever I can find it. Here are my favorite food bars:

Amazon Fresh delivers groceries in the Seattle area, but you can get Clif bars in most grocery stores across the USA.

Years ago I came across the Platypus water bottles. They're made here in the Northwest. Now that you can't carry beverages through security, it really make sense to get a Platypus water bottle because it will roll up for easy storage. It's also tough enough to either boil or freeze, so that's handy!

* Alarm Clock and Cable Lock

This one has been the bain of my existence. I'm not a good at napping without someone or something to wake me up in time. I have often wished I could nap in an airport waiting room, but I never seem to have an alarm clock with me! I looked at the Magellan's site and they say that this little analog clock has one of their loudest alarms. I'd check it out!

My other fear about falling asleep is that my bags might leave without me. So here's a page of locks from the Magellan's site. You could use the luggage strap to tie your bags to your arm so that you'd wake if someone tried to mess with them.

* Extra Cell Phone or PDA batteries or Rechargers AND a Splitter

It goes without saying that having a recharger you can use to keep your electronics going is a necessity anytime. But if you're stuck in an airport with other business travelers, those outlets are going to be VERY busy. I suggest carrying also a 3-outlet adapter so that you can SHARE your power with others!

* Lightweight Wrap or Mini-Blanket and Pillow

So far everything I've mentioned is pretty small and could be added to your arsenal without much effort. This last category is where things get interesting. If you're traveling with a heavy coat, then you don't really need to carry a blanket, but having a lightweight blanket might be nice if you want to lay on the terminal floor to nap. I know, eeewww, however, if that's your only chance to sleep, it might make sense to carry a travel blanket and pillow during bad weather travel.

This one seems to be pretty handy. I already carry a Bucky Mini- Pillow, so I'd be looking at a blanket to round out the survival pack.
Wrap all of this up in the container of your choice from, and you've got a kit that will serve you well if you're stuck in an airport overnight.

Here's hoping you never have to...!
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