Portable Home

unicornLater this month I’ll take off for a few weeks in Scotland. My plans are to hang out for a bit in Edinburgh, catch a Dougie MacLean concert (bucket list!), take a Gaelic short course, take a photography short course, see lots of countryside, and connect with some friends.

All lovely, lovely stuff! I hope to recharge the story idea well, rest, make new friends, sing, dance, learn, and get some perspective on my life–what should I be writing, what has worked writing-wise, where is the lawyer stuff in my plans?

I’m looking forward to this trip, it’s keeping me Ghiradelliefocused on finishing a happily ever after for Lady Susannah Haddonfield and the Hon. Mr. Willow Dorning. The upcoming travel is forcing me to get organized in terms of finances, and to tidy up some loose business ends.

And yet, travel is stressful. In Scotland, if you don’t look the “wrong” way before crossing the street, you can end up stepping off the curb into oncoming traffic. The money is different, and it takes me a while to get on my “Scottish” ears. Hotels are not home, and for much of the trip, I’ll be in the constant company of people (Introverts, represent!), and people I don’t know.

So I’ll pack a few portable pieces of home. First, I’ll take some solitude, because I thrive in solitude, and I need it to function. Fortunately, Scotland has a lot of this particularly commodity to offer. Second, I’ll take some Ghiradelli dark chocolate squares. jasmine green teaThese little 40-calories bliss bombs have seen me through many difficult, even dieting, days and until I get my tablet stash provisioned, they’ll be my emergency energy treats.

I’ll take my jasmine green tea, because this is probably my equivalent to a nerve tonic. One cup every few days soothes and cheers me, especially as a way to start the day. I’ll take my lavender sachets, because the scent alone settles my feathers and reminds me of home.

I’ll take my computer, and probably a pen and pad of paper, because tapping memos into the phone just doesn’t capture moments for me the way cursive
writing does, and because my computer is my writing office and my primary connection to loved ones and readers. I’ll wear my comfy socks, and probably bring a pillow case from home too.

tartan_450-130x215I’m bringing some good books–Julia Quinn’s “The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy” (signed to ME!!!!), Kirsten Callihan’s “Soulbound,” and Deanna Raybourn’s “Silent in the Grave.”

What am I forgetting? Or what do you keep around you–whether you’re at home, traveling, at the office–that comforts and grounds you? How do you keep a little bit of home with you all the time? What would you like me to bring back?

This week’s giveaway is a signed copy of Once Upon a Tartan, one of my favorite Scottish historical romances.

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41 comments on “Portable Home

  1. I keep a copy of “The Soldier” around all the time. My I-pad and in the last week ((I have had the flu all week)The remote so I can watch “North & South” Pride & Prejudice and a cup of tea while I re-cooperate. I think you should bring back a handsome scots man in a kilt with a beautiful Scottish accent.

  2. I’m a *real book girl* but my trusty Kindle is what I take with me when traveling. I can read whatever I want….or whatever I need to read when the homesickness hits me……and it fits nicely in my carry-on.

    I need to have my own *lotions and potions* as well as other my favorite toiletries to feel right. And sometimes, even when traveling in the states, I can’t get my favs.

    I bring tea as well, Constant Comment (both reg and decaf), because it reminds me of my grandmother and mother and it makes me feel good!

  3. I always bring my own pillow case when travelling, especially if I can’t bring my pillow. Glad I am not the only one who does this. The joys of driving versus flying is that I can have my pillow with me. Of course you can’t drive to Scotland.
    I also like to pack my blanket that I use everyday at home. It’s not my actual baby blanket, as my mom only made it for me a few years ago, but it invokes those same feelings of comfort.
    I also rarely leave the house without my Nook HD. It has all my favorite books on it, a few games, and internet access so I don’t have to lug my laptop around.

    I know you will enjoy your trip, so I will only wish you safe travels and lovely weather.

    • Half the reason I drive to see my folks in California rather than fly is my pillow. Pillows are personal, and I love mine.

      As for the Scottish weather, you blink and it changes. You drive ten miles and it changes. You look to the other horizon and it changes. Probably no other country on earth has palm trees and reindeer herds within half a day’s drive of each other.

  4. The first thing I put in my bag is my IPhone and earplugs so I can listen to music, take photos and read. A paperback copy of a new book & my alarm clock & mini flashlight would also be tucked away. I have a small ziplock bag filled with cough drops & mini snickers & milky ways & lifesavers. I have a collection of Constant Comment and Sleepy time Celestial seasonings tea bags that remind me of home and help me sleep in a new place. My favorite photo of Jenny & Bear & Irish reminds me of home and makes me smile!

    Have a fabulous trip!
    Enjoy your classes and the sights!

  5. When you are packing do your cats sit on the bed as you are filling the suitcase and give you THAT LOOK – the one that says what the heck are you doing? Mine always did back in the “olden days” when I was still able to travel.

    You just have a good time and re-charge yourself. And keep us posted here and there – I’ll travel vicariously through you.

    • Mary T, it’s my dogs that are already on the “Where do you think you’re going?” wavelength. They take turns sitting right under the table when I write, and making sure I don’t get much farther away than the mail box. I wonder how they know, when I’m days away from packing…

  6. How to take solitude with you? Noise canceling headphones and favorite music (KBAQ for me) as well as favorite books on tape – if you just want to relax and not try to multi-task. An eye mask is good.

    How to handle the mouth comfort? I take my home made trail mix, various tea bags (you got THAT right!) and maybe chocolate for the transport part (otherwise I would rather go local).

    Then there are pictures of my darling daughters and my pets. my iPad with a keyboard and yes I do indeed have “real books” with me. The iPad is back up in that particular case.

    The pillowcase is not a bad idea y’all, I may give it a try.

    Bring back a tartan shawl to keep you warm inside and out.

    Safe Journey 🙂

    • I like the shawl idea. When a wool shop does it all, from sheer, to card, to spin, to weave, it’s called a “sheep to shawl” operation. I’ll keep an eye peeled… I usually bring back lambswool scarves, but I have enough of those for now.

  7. I haven’t traveled in a while and other than taking some good reading material, I don’t think I’ve ever brought anything in particular with me. But then I’ve never been away for more than a week.

    • This is the longest I will have traveled in Scotland, and it’s part of a progression to maybe getting master’s degree there in creative writing. Have to sell a lot of books to do that, I mean a LOT…

  8. The main thing I have to take with me is my tablet with my Kindle app so I have plenty of books and my phone for texting and email when there is no WiFi (we have practically unlimited data plans thanks to years with teenagers and now young adults). Chocolate is a must have although I’m flexible on the types of chocolate – so I can buy some most places.

    BTW Grace, in your updates section you mentioned maybe visiting to many distilleries. 1) There is no such thing as to many visits to distilleries. 2) Should you decide to bring any bottles home we’ve discovered bubble wrap and those nifty water tight camping bags make for safer transport while traveling. 🙂

  9. When I travel, I usually bring something to snack on – the 90 calorie Fiber One Brownies. They’re my little treat when I’m not eating at home and my diet is getting all confusing, I at least have that little bit of normalcy if I want it. I always have books, usually a mix of a few print books and my Kindle, so I can read whenever I want to. I need a few minutes of calm, even when I’m having a great time visiting, and reading does that for me. What I’d love you to bring back is something plaid, that screams Scotland to me. 😀

  10. I travel a lot and while I may not be a classic introvert, I’m pretty close and I can empathize with the challenges of being away from home.
    I always have a bag packed so I can be out the door for short trips quickly. My must-have items are a flannel pillow case (even though they are supposed to cause hair breakage, my wool throw (plaid of course),Dove chocolates, my mug to brew loose leaf tea on-the-go and a supply of tea, a charger for my “phablet” and an old fashioned book in print -just in case. And some melatonin which makes it so much easier to sleep in strange places and different time zones.

    But…I barely miss home at all when we travel for something equine related and I can have my own bed/bedding in the trailer, my dogs and my horses. For me, that truly makes a home away from home.

    I hope you have a great trip and that you bring back some great memories – and maybe even a bit of a burr on command at least. Good luck with getting your Scottish “ears” quickly. I felt like I needed to buy a vowel at times, like on Wheel of Fortune! It sometimes seems like the vowel sounds are over before they really get started.

    • Some of the best sleep I ever, ever got was napping in a horse trailer. And yes, the ears… the inflection doesn’t go up at the end of a question the same way ours does, and that fuddles me until I get used to it. I’ll be “out west” this trip, where the accents are thicker, too. I’m looking forward to that!

  11. Essentials of travel:

    *Earplugs – planes are loud! And you never know who your neighbours will be in a hotel. 🙂

    *Water flavour – sometimes other places Easter is amazing. Sometimes, not so much.

    *Lemon hand cream – not only is the smell relaxing AND invigorating to me, but it calms me to go through the ritual of washing my hands and putting lotion on.

    *Pup – a stuffed puppy that my sister gave me for Christmas when I was in university she was very young to match her favourite stuffed animal. It represent family and home.

    Have a safe and happy trip!

  12. First, here’s a blog post I came on right after reading yours! http://www.foreveramber.co.uk/2015/03/myths-about-scotland.html

    I used to pack books first and foremost, but now I take my Kindle and have room for other stuff! I always make double-sure that I have all my chargers (phone, Kindle, computer) and adaptors. Making sure I have various supplements and sleep aids is crucial, too. Take vests and other layers to keep warm but to be able to adapt if the weather is good. Comfortable shoes are key, especially if you’re sight-seeing, and waterproof clothing.

    I think the sense of smell is important for making you feel at home, so the lavender sachets are a good idea. If your home has a particular smell see if there’s something you can take to replicate it: you could decant some of your favourite perfume and sprinkle it in your hotel rooms so that they feel less strange.

    • You raise a good point. I bring a little tube of Opus 1870, which is the fragrance I prefer when it’s a perfume moment. I buy it in Edinburgh (though you can get it on Amazon). And yes… the layers and waterproof gear. For one week, I’ll be bouncing all over Skye taking pictures, and the weather is notoriously fickle.

  13. Plus, if you are going to take photographs on a digital phone, make sure you take the download cord! And check the best way of storing and backing up your photos (ideally in the cloud).

  14. After reading this post and other people’s comments, I’ve decided I must not mind being away from home. Or, I’m not gone long enough to feel like I should take certain things with me. I’m going to go with the latter. 🙁

  15. I don’t need to bring much with me on trips, other than the necessities – clothes and personal items. When I travel, I am out to experience all that is new, the place, the people, the food, the culture. I want to try new things and find what I like best.

    I do bring a journal and something to read, I guess those are my travel necessities. The Kindle has made that easier. Having a crate of books in the car takes up a bit too much room, at least my husband thinks so. I read books set in the area I am visiting. It brings the stories more to life.

    What should you bring back? Bring back a rested soul and your imagination brimming with new characters and stories.

    • I have my fingers crossed about the imagination, Pat. I haven’t really had a writing break in maybe eight years. I will always love to write, but I’m hoping I get some crazy ideas, and story twists on the usual tropes. Might have to visit some of those distilleries to achieve that goal.

  16. You’ve got a great book for your plane ride TO Scotland but you’ll need another one for your trip home. Ever read “A Knight in Shining Armor” by Jude Deveraux? My favorite time travel book (no offense to you since your haven’t wrote a time travel yet????)It made me laugh, it made me cry. I read it every 5 years or so. I’m a little envious of your upcoming trip, but maybe I’ll get my chance, in say, 2016? Have Fun and a Safe Trip.

  17. I used to travel regularly for business. It didn’t take long for me to find ways to improve the experience with a few packable luxuries.

    I feel grimy when I travel, so I bring sanitizer wipes to wipe down airplane trays, rental car steering wheels, hotel light switches, etc. I travel with a battery-powered candle to serve as a nightlight; a red glass votive holder softens and warms the artificial light. I bring a warm shawl/wrap, because airplanes can get cold (particularly in the window seats), and a wrap just feels cozy. Books, both electronic and paper, are essential.

    To mitigate stress, it helps to establish routines, such as setting out your things in a certain way each time you arrive at a new hotel room, or enjoying a hot cup of tea and a book before bed every night.

    To satisfy an introverted soul, find pockets of time to wander off alone to recharge. Find a spot to sit and listen to the sea. Take a sunset walk. Wander into an old village church and wallow in the peace and history of the place. Those are the moments that inspire and ground me.

    Finally, bring back the memory of at least one serendipitous moment—a conversation with a friendly local, or a surprising discovery. Those are among my very favorite travel experiences. (Bonus points for getting a photo that commemorates the moment.)

    • I have essential oil wipes that are amazing. They smell lovely (lemon, lavender & mint) and the properties of the oil disinfect, soothe and refresh respectively. I always keep some in my carryon when I travel. Even if only to and from work!

  18. I’m a complete introvert when it comes to “live and in person”, but am a total social butterfly online. Between work friends, family, non-work friends and my writing community, I’m always chatting or exchanging ideas with someone.

    My Go-To office/home is my cell phone. Email, text, social media, research, camera, books and writing programs all in one place. I hate to say it, but my phone has more space & power than my computer does! I live it because I can keep in touch when I want, but if I need some alone time (we introverts thrive on alone time!) I can just shut it off and ignore the world. But if I’m homesick, I can just ring up Fave Nephie on FaceTime and all is well in the world!

    The only thing I can’t do on my phone is cook. :/
    Enjoy your stay in Scotland, Grace non sure you’ll have a WONDERFUL time!