Survival of the Sittest... (or packing hacks part two)
And we're back. The temperatures are scooting out of the teens but I am secretly wishing that I was in Orlando instead of Chicago. I'm heading off to San Diego in a few weeks and all I can think about is sun, sun, sun, although I know it will be a *balmy* 69º and in need of a sweater as dictated by meeting room air conditioning. The lack of natural Vitamin D production is starting to get the best of me— a weekend holiday in Joliet, Illinois is starting to sound good as it is at least 2 degrees warmer than here.
Alas, I will be sticking it out in Chicago for the next few weeks, but a trip out southwest will welcome me and I will welcome my bikini in return! So, in mental preparation for that five hour air jaunt across the good ol' U.S. of A., I thought we'd revisit packing hacks.
While the last post was dedicated to the practical and necessary, this post is dedicated to the silly, strange and sublime— packing hacks that can make four hours in cattle cargo seem like a vacation in itself.
Here's just a few of the things that I have on hand to keep sane in a 747, whether it's 2 hours to Pittsburgh or 22 to Melbourne.
I'm perpetually wedged in the no-man's land of not quite having enough qualifying segments or miles to attain silver status, and I can't justify a trip for the express purpose of making it to the valhalla that is elite flyer status. I feel like you aren't getting that much bang for your buck anyway, so instead, I take it upon myself to make flying coach as comfortable as possible. You can too with a few hacks.
Dressed to Chill
There are usually two camps when it comes to getting dressed for a flight— the sweatpants and sneakers crowd and the three-piece suit crowd. I like a happy medium of a wrinkle resistant tunic, some comfortable leggings, and ankle boots or loafers, but let's get down to brass tacks. No matter what you wear, combat the inevitable ankle swelling by investing in a pair of compression socks. These are a must for any frequent flyer. These can make the difference between stumbling off the plane and well, a DVT (neither are sexy.) The best thing to do is to get up and walk, but if you're a window seat dweller like myself, compression socks, some calf raises and foot flexes keep the blood going.
Men should seriously bring back the ascot and women should never leave home without a large silk(ish) scarf. This multitasking piece will warm you on a plane, serve as fashionable neckwear, make a lightweight impromptu picnic blanket, and so much more. Trust me on this one. You can spend a crazy fortune on a scarf or pick up something fun at your local thrift shop (the general purveyor of my scarves). No luck? Try the Corciova brand scarves. You can have the look of a certain luxury leather goods maker at a sliver of the price ($10 vs. $300, pre-owned!)
Stomach Doing a Pitch and Roll?
The excitement of travel can make one's stomach do a little number before you even get off the ground. If you know you have motion sickness, it's worth seeing your doctor for something that is certain to work, like a scopolamine patch. Dramamine and Bonine are great too; I highly recommend keeping them on hand for impromptu boat cruises. For in-flight queasy-nasties, I recommend having a few ginger candies and a packet of ginger or honey lavender tea on hand. It will calm your nerves and your stomach. I also carry Herban Essential towelettes - the essential oil infused wet wipes can give you a quick whiff of lavender or eucalyptus to calm your nerves and clean your tray table. If all else fails, remember to always carry some travel packs of Imodium. Anthony Bourdain swears by it.
Have a light meal before your flight if possible, or pack your own beautiful bento box with easy-to-digest favorites like eggs, nuts, fruit, and fresh veggies - the extra water from fruit and veg will keep you hydrated, the protein keeps you satiated, and you'll be likely to fall asleep.
If the pending flight is scaring you witless, try yogic breathing to take the edge off; there's even an app for it (iOS). I try to keep my medications to a minimum however, if flying absolutely terrifies you, don't be afraid to ask your physician whether an anxiolytic (read: Xanax) is right for you.
Flying Is So Drying...
You need to hydrate. I occasionally enjoy a glass of wine on a flight but if I don't back it up with a water, I am asking for trouble. Compromise? Ask for a seltzer water with your wine and enjoy a spritzer. Furthermore, don't bother with buying water at the airport - that is a surefire way to fleece you out of $30 quickly. If you must buy water, hold on to the bottle and refill at the nearest fountain. I allot the space in my carry-on for my insulated SevenFifty flask - it keeps my water cold, my coffee hot (your diner waitress will probably top you up to go), and is just right for toting a full, cold bottle of rosé for that hillside picnic that you should be having whilst on vacation! Swell does a similar, much pricier bottle.
Call me crazy, but if I'm on a red eye between London and Chicago, I pop a bottle of facial water in my carry on. It's the pinnacle of silliness—I mean, come on, it's pressurized water in a can! However, I would be lying if I didn't say that it literally hits the spot for freshening your tired face (you don't spray your neighbor). You can get Eau Thermale Avène in a three-pack from Amazon (Evian also makes one), or stock up for €1/can the next time you find yourself at Monoprix in France (it's an affordable foreign treat)! DIYers can make their own by using 3 parts distilled water to one part witch hazel (with a drop or two of essential oil for fun) and pouring into an atomizer.
After a quick spray of water, layer on some soothing skin cream like Nivea or the multitasking Caudalie Divine Oil and top your lips off with some Rosebud salve or Vaseline Lip Therapy— also a savior for tatty cuticles. All are small enough to throw in a carry on and will save your face from feeling like cracked leather.
Make the Best of Your Tech
You're undoubtedly carrying your mobile phone, and probably a tablet or computer, so make those babies work for their space in your carry on! My phone serves as my: boarding pass (iOS: passbook/Android: Google Now), travel manager (TripIt), entertainment (Spotify, Zinio, Zinio for Libraries: iOS/Android), Wallet (Apple Pay, Android Pay), news (Feedly, Public Radio app: iOS/Android, New York Times), packing list and note manager (Evernote), fashion inspiration (Hermès Silk Knots works even with those $9.99 scarves iOS/Android), restaurant finder and reservation maker (OpenTable, MileagePlus Dining for United flyers), coffee manager (hey, this is paramount when you have a 7am flight - Starbucks), to-do list (Todoist), and relaxation agents (Sleep Pillow: iOS/Android, Yoga Studio)... I think you get the point.
Whether you are flying Premiere on United or no class on Spirit, bon voyage and enjoy the flight!