Preparing for the Olympics isn’t easy — and packing to decamp to South Korea for a few weeks isn’t a walk (or a jog — they’re elite athletes after all) in the park either. While Nike, Under Armour, and Ralph Lauren have the practical items covered by providing Team USA with patriotic gear for practice, playing, and taking the podium, participants bring to the 2018 Winter Games beyond the basics. From Maame Biney‘s purple blanket to Kikkan Randall’s bone stimulator, here’s the most unexpected thing 11 Olympians brought with them to PyeongChang.
I’ve become a coffee snob over the last two years, so I’ll be bringing the beans we get from home and a coffee grinder to grind them fresh every morning. That’s a little more high maintenance than usual.
I’ll bring a diffuser that diffuses oil so the room smells good at night. I use diffused lavender. I think it’s part of my routine, a bedtime routine that helps me get into a relax mode. It’s part of what I do to have a good night’s sleep. When you go to new countries or hotel rooms, they have distinct smells, so it’s important to bring home with you so you feel comfortable, so it feels like you’ve been there before and it’s familiar.
I always travel with my pillow on the plane. It’s kind of a pain in the butt when you’re walking through airports, but it helps me sleep on plane and at the destination. That’s a little thing that helps the travel get easier.
Everyone brings all of the funky medical things. They make fun of me but then they ask me for it. Like moleskin. I have a fully stocked medical kit. Air diffuser — we have to share a lot of common space and sometimes tends to not feel very clean or fresh and people can get sick. It helps clean out the air and make it fresh.
I’m really into books, so I have 5-6 books I’ve brought with me on tour and taking with me to South Korea. I’m really into motivational books and just about changing your thinking. So I have a bunch of books like that. And also my computer — I need to stay connected to my friends and family and be able to watch Netflix in my downtime.
I mean, I don’t know if it would be surprising to other people, but I pack Aeropress and my own coffee cause that’s important. I pack gum from the U.S., so I have like a bag, massive bag of gum. Because the gum in Europe is different, and I don’t like it. And a jar of peanut butter. You can’t get the same kind of peanut butter over here. So, it’s usually funny little things like that that I pack. But I also pack, like I have a picture of my family that I travel with, and I put it up in every hotel room just to make it a little more like home, so you’re not just in this room that has nothing of you in it.
Well, this Olympics, I’m packing a bone stimulator for my foot because for the last month and a half I’ve been battling a, trying to keep a stress, it’s not a stress fracture, but it was the start of one, trying to keep that at bay so I don’t affect my Olympics. So I’m traveling around with this funny bone stimulator thing. But that’s not normal. Most years I don’t have an injury I’m dealing with.
So the most surprising thing…I’m a total tech person, so I usually got my computer and iPad, and phone, and every cable you could imagine, and cameras, and stuff cause I love being able to stay connected with kind of the outside world, and share my experience that I get to do at the Olympics. So sometimes that means a little extra baggage carrying all that stuff around. But it is fun to be able to stay super connected.
I always have my purple blanket with me wherever I go. It’s not a good luck thing or anything but I got it for a Christmas present a few years ago, and I always have it in the car with me or take it on a plane wherever I travel. It’s like a thing that I have with myself.
I think my pillow is something that I always pack that a lot of people don’t travel with. I hate when you get to the hotel and you’re uncomfortable sleeping on a really thick pillow or a really thin pillow. At least I know that’s one comfort that I have that reminds me of home.
As a proud owner of three dogs, when my dogs aren’t around, I get really lonely. So I’ll be packing a stuffed animal, Lotso, from Toy Story 3. That’s what I’ll be taking with me at 24 years old.
I carry this little Curious George monkey around with me everywhere in my bag, which is probably the most surprising. It’s kind of a family thing. My mom and dad, when they were on a pro-mogul tour together, my mom bought my dad a Curious George stuffed animal and he traveled with it and I think he made the newspaper one time. So we grew up loving Curious George and he was part of our family kind of. And then for my birthday when I was a kid I got a little one, and then we got my brother one the next year for his birthday. So it’s kind of like a little family thing that we have.
I always bring some type of game like a deck of cards or something like that…we usually have a lot of down time, or sometimes we get weathered in, so it’s nice to have something to keep you occupied.
Additional reporting by Laureen Irat, Kerry Justich, Dana Oliver, Rachel Bender, Alexandra Mondalek, Beth Greenfield, Elise Solé, Mandi Bierly, and Abby Haglage.
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