Traveling has become quite an art for me, especially when it comes to 12 hour flights. From every airport experience I have learned at least one thing. But a rule I live and swear by is to never forget your essentials. After walking around endless terminals with the wrong carry-on (I wanted to show-off my Old School suitcase so I decided against my other one with wheels and ended up almost losing my arm blood flow), chosing the least practical handbag, walking around in heels with my feet almost bleeding and then having to go barefoot for security controls because I decided to travel sans socks, I now have a checklist. Yes, an actual checklist, there you can find the items that need to ALWAYS accompany me on a plane ride. You can’t pull a Mary Poppins on your bag, but you sure can make most of the space you have inside it. And since the regulations say one cannot travel with bottles that have more than 100ml, that’s a bit of a helper.
Choosing your bag is the first important thing to do. Stay away from totes or anything without a zipper. The more difficult the access, the least someone will want to get near your stuff while you are sleeping (trust me, I’ve heard stories about people getting robbed up in the air). It’s also essential to pick one with lots of compartments and inside pockets, that way you can have everything organized and find whatever you are looking for in a jiffy (I sometimes am the kind of person who kneels down, places the bag on the floor and starts the quest for the lost object). A shoulder bag, a cross-body, a hobo, anything that can hang from your shoulder, that way you can handle better your carry-on, the 8 magazines and candy you bought, your Starbucks latte and your jacket, oh and your duty free purchases (I’m such a female traveler cliché). But now let’s get to the point, what has to be inside that practical bag of yours?
CLEAN & CLEAR
As a woman, I wish we girls could travel with our entire bathroom cabinet, to hell with it, I wish I had a private jet with a bath tub in it! But since that’s not a possibility, we have to make the most out of those little 100ml bottles in order to survive our flights. Always carry a pocket sized body splash, after those long hours of sleeping in the same tupperware we like to call plane, you and your clothes are definitley in need of fresh fragrance. H&M sells this little cute 4 bottle packs, perfect for our purses. MOISTURIZE, that’s the key to a long flight. Always keep with you a small tube of hand cream and your sunblock, I recommend always Anthelios AE from La Roche Posay. Antibacterial gel is a must inside your bag, airports and planes are always infested with germs. Mineral water spray (Avene or Evian) is a great traveling companion, helps you refresh your face and keeps it hydrated. And last but definitely not least, a pocket toothbrush kit. Seriously people, chewing gum is not an alternative to teeth brushing, even if it says so in the gum package.
THE BEAUTY BAR
Every girl needs to always look polished. It doesn’t matter if we have just endured a 15 hour flight and have one gigantic butt cheek instead of two smaller ones, a girl is always a girl. I’m not telling you to put on dark eyeliner, bronzer and rouge lipstick (actually I’m advising you against the whole tranny hooker-morning after look), but to pack on those 6 or 7 products that will make your face look natural and fresh even after 6 beers and air pressure. In a very cute cosmetic bag you should always have the following:
- Concealer: no raccoon eyes, no bags, no swollen eyes. You can have all that with this simple miracle worker. I like to use Benefit’s Erase Paste
- Powder and pocket brush: To give your face a little color, a little life after the flight, always carry your compact. If it has a mirror, even better. If not, get a pocket mirror. I like MAC’s Skinfinish Natural Powder
- Benetint: This is a must in every girl’s makeup bag. You can color your cheeks naturally, you can tint your lips in a gorgeous shade of cherry and manage to look fresh and never over the top
- White metallic eyeliner: For the inside corner of your eyes, it will make you appear more awake and aware than you are without a caffeine high.
- Brow gel: Keep your wild ones tame with a brush gel for your eye brows. Natural, without coloring, Benefit’s Speed Brow is a must-have.
- Pocket eyelash curler and mascara: We females cannot live without mascara, our lashes are like souls to our faces. Japonesque makes great curlers and in very cute colors (pastels are my favorite) and for mascara, Maybelline’s Falsies is a great buy. Never waterproof for traveling, it’s worse for you eyes.
- Lipgloss: Go with one that has moisturizer, a cute shade of rasperry to get your lips more lively looking. I like Philosophy’s Raspberry Sorbet.
THE COMFORT ZONE
Some airlines are kind enough to give you a travel kit, others give you just a cheap pillow and a blanket. That’s why one has to be prepared for the worst. Ever end up making a pillow out of your jacket? Or have you ever ended up sleeping on the shoulder of the strange guy sitting nex to you? That’s why you should always carry with you a travel pillow. Great for your neck, great for support and it actually allows you to sleep decently while you are on your very stiff and uncomfortable seat. Go for the inflatable ones, you can stick them into your purse and still have a lot of room for your other stuff. Wether it’s the annoying man who won’t shut his window or the lady that likes to read with the light on your face, an eye mask helps against this kind of hostility. Nowadays you can find them with aloe vera or aromatherapy to relax your body. And then there is the socks, a pair of thick, comfy and warm pair of socks. Avoid cold feet, and also avoid that dreadful moment where the police officer makes you take of your shoes and walk barefoot at the security checkpoint.
GADGETS & EXTRAS
Time will always fly by quicker when you have some entertainment. I confess I spend a lot in cheap magazines that only last me for the first hour of my flight. And if you are not that lucky and are traveling with an airline that doesn’t have a personal screen with a movie menu and has only 4 televisions for the whole coach area (hello Delta Airlines!), you better be armed with some gadgets to ease your suffering. A notebook or sketchbook, great ideas always come to mind in situations like this, also the pen will be useful when filling out forms. My beloved Nook, you can carry tons of books wihout the load. And if you are into real tearjerkers, be sure to download Sisterhood Everlasting by Anne Brashares. The odd stares of my fellow passengers after shedding some tears was totally worth it, I nearly finished the book in 8 hours. The Ipod is a must in my life, and on a plane I need it more than I need breathing. Finally some tissues (never know when you are going to cry with a book) and a document envelope, whick I also use as a case for my nook!
Before I go, a quick word of advice:
Dress comfy, but never loose your style. And never, ever wear a velour tracksuit, I don’t care if it’s Juicy Couture or if it was hand made by Yves Saint Laurent himself (he would’ve never made one anyway), it’s just cheap…. and tacky!
So to all of those like me, who are getting ready to fly, pack wisely and Bon Voyage!