The Faire Traveler: stress reducing travel hacks

By Kris Johnston

Traveling at any time and especially in the current climate can seem daunting. Travel rarely goes exactly as planned and that can be a good thing if you are prepared by controlling variables before the travel even begins. I am a professional archer and performer. I travel for work as well as pleasure and now have the opportunity to share with you some of my go to traveling guidelines. 

  1. Safety First

Safety is paramount. Make sure you check your vehicle or mode of travel months before you plan to begin your journey. Problems will arise while traveling undoubtedly, so it is best to minimize avoidable problematic situations before they occur. 

If you are traveling by air, download the apps for the airlines you will be using and any apps for travel arrangements that need to be made upon your arrival. If you are traveling by vehicle, which is my family’s usual mode, a Sprinter Adventure Van, make sure to get your tune up done with plenty of time to spare, wash the vehicle to expose any potentially hazardous flaws and make sure items such as the jack, spare tire and jumper cables, tire patch kit, fix a flat and other essentials are easily accessible. If you are unfamiliar with how to remedy any of the problems the equipment I just listed would be the solution to, go to YouTube and learn, you will thank your past self when the opportunity to use these skills arises. A first aid kit and an emergency roadside tool kit are essential along with water and blankets.

  1. Mapping & Navigation

Always bring an Atlas pertaining to the area you will be traveling. GPS and equipment malfunctions happen often and you want to make sure that you have a failsafe. 

Learn about the area you will be staying. I often join local social media groups ahead of time to get a feel for the local vibe before I enter an area. This is the best way I’ve found to find hidden gems such as restaurants and local attractions that may be off the beaten path. 

Bring your chargers and associated equipment as well. Mine are color coded based on user and location. 

  1. Bring the Party with You

Now that you are safe and have your route mapped, it is time to pack! Bring essentials such as sunscreen, bug spray, hats, protective gear, water, blankets, rain boots, healthy snacks, adequate water in reusable containers, and the like. Our family keeps those items packed except for reorganization and inventory. They live in a tub and can be moved easily. 

Organization is key to easy traveling. Everyone in my family has a color which encapsulates towels, utensils, cups and so on. This helps to keep the belongings and the laundry to a minimum during travel and once the destination is reached. It also helps me keep my laundry separate from my permanent living situation laundry and ensures that I always have what I need on board without having to put unnecessary thought into it. Sounds simple and it is but the results are impactful. Clear tubs or wire baskets are also extremely helpful and negates the need for digging through tub after tub [editor’s note: vacuum sealed storage bags make it easier to pack a lot of stuff in small spaces, we’ve included links at the bottom of the page]. I also paint the color of the person whose tub it is on the outside as well as all archery equipment cases and boxes.

Inevitably, if you travel as much as we do, you will end up stuck somewhere due to a problem that you didn’t even know was a thing prior to it slapping you in the face and derailing every single thing you had planned. Having the essentials within easy reach is paramount for being able to deal with these opportunities quickly, efficiently and in a controlled manner. Don’t forget to hydrate! Yes, your original plans may have to be altered but you will have the tools at hand to be able to deal. 

  1. Save Money While Eating Well

Consider bringing most of your own food. Not only will this save you a ton of money, it will help keep you healthy, it will save you time and my family just likes it much better than fast food. We have a refrigerator in our van which really helps with keeping good food and drinks accessible. If you are in a smaller vehicle check out some of the 12V cooler options that are now available. Traveling by air? Snacks such as fresh fruit, nuts, dried berries and granola are healthy and easily portable. 

From airline apps to fuel station apps and programs to grocery store apps, there are so many modern ways to save money and frustration at the tip of your fingers. Many specials, deals and bits of valuable information can be found through apps concerning the location and nature of your trip. Plus, I enjoy doing this type of preparation as I get to anticipate all of the fun we will have! One of my favorite apps to download is the local grocery store app. This allows you to restock on food when you get to your location and get the best deals possible. Fair/Faire food is amazing but let’s face it, sometimes it is not accessible or you just want a light salad. This is where the local grocery store comes in. Currently, curbside is an option so you can use your time on the road to set up an order that allows you to save both time and money. I also carry a stock of coupons with me from my home base. These coupons are often very effective outside of the areas in which they are intended to be used. One can usually combine a manufacturer’s coupon with a local store coupon in order to optimize the deal which isn’t available where the coupon was issued. 

Photo by Ann H on
  1. Plan to Break Plans

So, you have met your safety parameters, downloaded the appropriate apps and have packed essentials, you are ready for the perfect trip … and then disaster strikes. I cannot even begin to list all of the strange and off-putting situations my family, my friends and I have been in while traveling, from wrecks where people’s every belonging had to be salvaged from the side of the road to a large truck actually running into my FJ Cruiser while my husband was in it as I was walking towards him to being stuck for days due to some geographical anomaly. The lesson is that you just cannot predict or control what may happen. A plan is absolutely necessary, this allows us to prepare for situations that may arise. A travel plan is needed in order to stay on track and preserve time, just be prepared to go with the flow and alter your plans accordingly. Is it terribly stressful when things don’t go the way we initially anticipated? Absolutely. Is that stress exacerbated by not having done the prep work and by not being willing to alter plans to accommodate your new circumstance? Absolutely.  So, make your plans, make your preparations and be ready to throw all of those out the window if need be, deal with the problem and move on. The sooner you accept and embrace your situation, the sooner you can get back on track. A good attitude is paramount and raises the moral of the group thus creating the optimal situation for dealing with the inevitable. As we say in archery, move on to the next target, that arrow is gone.

6. Your Own Backyard

During our time at Oklahoma State Faire which was a 12 day run in September of 2019, our crew ran a shop, performed multiple shows a day, handled news spots, visited with our fans and completed other activities as contracted. Among our crew we have four women, all archers and all accomplished in their own rights. The lead of our show is also female. One afternoon, I performed the show and went backstage to unstring and store my bow. My husband approached me and told me of a woman who lived in Oklahoma City and had come to see our show. He said that she couldn’t control her emotions so she had to excuse herself but to please pass the following message along to me. This woman, seeming to be in her 90s, had been an Olympic archer in the early years of the sport. She said that it was an extremely difficult world and sport for women to live in at that time and that she fought many uphill battles just for being female in a male dominated sport. She heard that our show was coming to town and that there was a female archery lead so she had to see it for herself. She sat in the front row and I was honored to have the opportunity to perform for her and humbled that she helped carve the path for future female archers. The point is, check out shows and attractions that are happening near your location. We often miss local attractions due to the questing for something grand. Keep tabs on events in your own backyard, you never know what you could find. 

7. Faire Life Hacks

My propane shower, sturdy pop up shelter and costuming organization are key hacks that make my travel life easier.  My propane shower, a Mr. Heater Bass Camp Boss, runs off of a rechargeable battery or can be plugged in to a wall outlet or 12v vehicle outlet. I have used it to bathe, bathe my children, clean and do laundry. It was around the $300 and I’ve had it for about 5 years now, I will happily purchase another when it finally dies. A sturdy pop up shelter is so worth it. We paid a little over $300 for a natural colored, ABC Canopy with walls and replaceable parts. I can put it up on my own. Good anchors are paramount and lowering it to its lowest height in heavy or straight line winds really helps. We have showered in it, camped in it, lived in it; the uses are endless. Clothing is an integral part of faire and having it organized, accessible and well maintained is key. We use color coded tubs. All cloaks are in a light teal locking tub. My husband has a black tub that is packed before the journey with the desired costuming pieces and I have a teal one, my children’s are clear. Within those tubs are clear bags with accessories, shoes and miscellaneous. Each clothing pieces is folded in such a manner that they can be seen utilizing folding techniques courtesy of Marie Condo of Netflix’s “Tidying Up”. If space allows or if we are in a place for a while, we erect and anchor an additional pop up canopy with walls, we have a 5×5 and a clothes rack and table within it. This helps greatly with dressing. Accessible make up with a folding free standing mirror is also a great way to ease frustration on those early mornings. 

8. Check In 

I was in a very bad auto accident in 1999 that took the life of my brother 17 years later. Because of that, I spent time in physical therapy in a rehab hospital. During that time, I came to learn of two young men who had not told anyone where they were headed, got into an accident, rolled their vehicle into a shallow creek and because their people had no idea where to start looking for them, one of them passed. The other had severe brain trauma. This was eye opening for me and with the convenience of today’s technology, it is easy to let someone know where you are planning on going to have stopped for the night in order to avoid potential complications. There is not a night that we are on the road that I do not let someone know where I am. 

9. Record

Have a journal handy and write down a few things while you are traveling. Even a short paragraph every night or at a point in the trip will be a welcome memory timeline later. Pop up a quick album on Facebook, keep it private if you would like. When all is said and done, you will appreciate having those memories.

Traveling is a true delight. Stressful things will happen in life whether you are traveling or not but there are steps you can take to make traveling less stressful when inevitable situations arise. Preparation is key and the important thing to remember is that life is a journey, may yours be a faire one. 

By Kristen Johnston

Kristen is a professional archer and lifetime performer. She began her training in dance at the age of two and pursued a career in classical ballet. After completing her BFA and MPA, her interests turned back towards archery. Training with the mantra “Do whatever it takes and start now.” has led her to two world titles, multiple national titles and numerous state, regional and local titles in longbow, recurve and Asiatic. She has been named an Archery Influencer and has been featured on programs such as The Push Archery and Quickshots. Preforming The Longbow Show and sharing the joy of traditional archery with others is her passion. Kris is honored to captain the professional shooting team “Trad Tour”.  She owns a traditional archery shop with her husband, is the mother to two children and is a Level 2 USA Archery Certified Instructor. 

[editor’s note: the Ziploc brand are my favorite vacuum sealed storage bags, their seal seems to hold its integrity for the longest period of time (not a paid endorsement)]

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The mission of LadyFaire is to encourage people, particularly women and femmes, to recognize the beauty and magic in their world while developing their inner strength and connections with others so that they can live abundant, creative, empowered lives. Words build bridges to relationships, art strengthens the soul, and authentic friendships change the world.

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