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Janelle Monáe’s intangible travel must-have promotes happiness and busts stress


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Photo: Instagram/@janellemonae

Your vacation packing list is probably (hopefully, at least!) full of essentials like your passport, a versatile black swimsuit, a selection of soothing essential oils, and a tennis ball for rolling out your sore muscles. But, the endlessly talented Janelle Monáe just dropped some wisdom that could overhaul your packing routine as you know it: She just shared her most-coveted travel item, and it’s totally intangible.

“Your peace, your kindness, your love, your confidence, your intelligence, all those things are things that you can’t quantify and also things you can’t touch. You can pack them up—not in a suitcase—you can pack them in your body, and that’s what I do.” —Janelle Monáe

In recent New York Times profile, the actress and singer-songwriter shared that though, yes, she makes sure to pack hygge-appropriate fuzzy socks, her most important travel essentials are of the mindful rather than physical variety. This means she always asks herself a series a questions, just to check in, before she goes anywhere. “Before I go out of the house, I’m like, ‘Am I centered? Am I grounded?’ You know, ‘How am I feeling? Let me check in with my feelings’,” she says. “Those are the most valuable things: Your peace, your kindness, your love, your confidence, your intelligence, all those things are things that you can’t quantify and also things you can’t touch. You can pack them up—not in a suitcase—you can pack them in your body, and that’s what I do.”

Though the goal of vacations is often to relax and unwind, actually getting to your destination can often feel like a stressful and anxiety-inducing odyssey, which makes me wonder why peace of mind isn’t already the No. 1 travel essential on everyone’s list (including my own). So, let Monáe’s sage advice serve as a gentle reminder to double-check that you feel calm and balanced before you leave your home, no matter where you’re going or for how long.

Need help figuring out how to pack your carry-on? These are the genius packing tips flight attendants swear by and the items Lea Michele always brings along.

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