“Let us weigh your baggage please.” “Would you like your luggage wrapped?” “May I see your flight details?” “EXCUSE ME! EXCUSE ME!”
There’s something both horrible and exciting when stepping foot into an airport. Between the hustle and bustle of people both milling around at a snail’s pace ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the country’s claim-to-fame airport store (Smoked salmon? Kilt wearing potatoes? Eiffel Tower key chains?) and others crashing into each other like waves against fat seals, the energy of an airport- whether it be a large or small- tends to have an effect on me emotionally, physically, and for those of us with extra care for vanity and comfort- my aesthetics.
I’m no Victoria Beckham or Lady Gaga when hopping on a plane, but I don’t see the point in giving up all sense of style, health, or looks for the sake of boarding an aircraft. So no, you won’t find me in Uggs and a North Face sans lipstick. I won’t be wearing heels and a mini dress and anything Vegas-worthy either.
Whether you’re off on your honeymoon jaunt to Bali, a study abroad trip to Italy, a plastic surgery tour in South Africa, or visiting family in the States- the flight is going to do a number on you whether you know it or not. Over the past few weeks- as documented in my blog- I’ve had a magical time in Scotland with a popover to Ireland mid-vacation. There are definitely things that made my (air) journey not only bearable, but added touches of luxury that made the travel aspect enjoyable (aside from the awful Qatar Airlines E-Commerce system- again, more on that later).
The moment I plop my rump into the tiny little seats of whatever aircraft I’m on (let’s be real, I’m not flying business!) I get everything situated so that my flight can be as comfortable from the start as is to the finish. Usually arranging everything during the packing session of the trip is the best bet- but there are some things that should be set aside specifically before my ascent. As I type this 39,000 or so feet in the sky as we depart I’ll share my many creature comforts that ensure a well-maintained trip: specifically one heading to the cold, blustery land of Scotland.
Neck Pillow: Never underestimate the importance of a good neck pillow on a long flight. Sure, if you’re on a forty five minute flight from Phnom Penh to Bangkok it’s not really worth toting- but the different between drooling down your shirt and falling halfway into the aisle and getting a snug nap session all depends on having a good neck pillow on hand. I prefer something half styrofoam/bean and the other half cushioned. Go with black.
Satin Sleeping Mask: When you’re flying through different time zones, with lights keep getting turned on and off, dimming, and the sun rising and setting at various hours- it’s best to ensure some shut-eye with an eye mask to cover your peepers while you doze away in a diazepamed sleep. Plus, Holly Golightly would definitely approve. And if you can’t have Cat aboard, a sleep mask will be the next best thing. Unless you’re into the George Peppard look…
Lucas’ Papaw Ointment: There really is a cure-all for all the cuts, scratches, dry patches, and dehydrated skin and it comes in a bright orange-red tube and hails from Australia made of fermented papaya. The smallest dab of this ointment sinks into the skin quickly, moisturizes and heals, barely leaves a scent, and is perfect for dry and sensitive skin. I’ve only managed to get my hands on this from my favorite ranga from Australia, but I’ll be sure to make it last and order online when this precious tube starts making farting noises when I try to eke the last bit out.
Tiger Balm: I figured out how important the mentholatum balm was as soon as my mom asked me to bring forty something pods of the stuff over when I met her in Glasgow. And then I asked, “why did it take me so long?” It’s one of the three products (hand cream, lip balm, Tiger Balm- or something of the sort) that keep in my handbag, at the office, and at home and costs about 30-50 cents per pot. It instantly takes away the itch of a mosquito or bug bite, clears your sinuses like no other, and can help ease a headache within minutes of rubbing it into your temples. Plus, if you’ve found yourself in an especially ripe and rank place- just give your Tiger Balm a whiff and your olfactory system will thank you for it.
Clarins Cleansing Milk: Rather than stripping my face of any of the little natural oil it had in the UK, I had to add as much moisture as possible (note: you’re going to find a trend here). Going from a humid climate where it seems I’m almost always a little bit damp to one where the term “chapped” works for almost everything, Clarins Cleansing Milk did just the trick and removed all traces of makeup, the little grime I encountered, and dead skin while leaving a softness to my face which I couldn’t achieve with an an alcohol based or foaming, moisture stripping cleanser. Available for both Oily/Normal or Dry skin, its a winner all around and comes in a big old bottle that feels friendly in your hands and rich on your face.
*thanks Wendy for treating me to this one!
Avene Cold Cream: I’ve said it many a time and I’ll say it again: ladies and germs with skin woes, look no further than Avene Cold Cream. Not only does it immediately melt into dry skin but continues to give a dewy radiance throughout the day if you’re going without makeup. It’s also a great base for light cosmetic application and although creams will diminish throughout the day without a proper base and primer, it’s a great way to kickstart your epidermis after a long night. Not only that, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg and it comes in a big pretty white metal tube with peach colored writing that I have learned to just love. Plus, a little goes a long way so it’s not only a steal of a deal but the thick cream carries it’s weight!
Garnier Anti-Dark Circle Eye Roller: Another surprising find was the Garnier Anti-Dark Circle Eye Roller. I loved waking up with a chilly face feeling cozy after a night under a downy duvet, then splashing with steamy water, and finishing off (in a circular, light motion) rolling the eye serum onto the underside of my puffy, jet-lagged eyes with the cooling roller ball. Drying within seconds, the caffeinated serum gave me the boost that the last glass of wine sucked out of me the night before.
BB Cream (Maybelline!): Yep, Maybelline seems to have perfected the BB cream. So have tons of other cosmetic lines (Bobbi Brown, I’m looking at you), but where else can you pick up a tube for less than $5? I know BB cream has been on beauty buff’s radars for what seems like eons in editorial time and that there’s CC, GG, and probably ZZ creams on the market now- but I finally hopped on the bandwagon after finding that powder wasn’t doing the trick for my skin that was weeping “whyyyyyyyyyy?!!!” from the dryness. Ideal for types of weather lacking any sort of natural moisture, has lots of wind, and if you want light SPF coverage- BB cream will give you an added bit of moisture after you apply your regular day cream and create a nice base for the rest of your face. Foundation is a huge no-no for me on a daily basis: my skin feels suffocated, if the formula is too harsh I’ll break out, and I simply just don’t really need it- but BB cream definitely came in handy as a third round of moisturizer (first Cold Cream, then Avene SPF 50) in the morning when I woke up with parched skin.
Josie Maran Argan Infinity Cream Intensive Creamy Oil: When you’re working with a cream based base for your face (there’s a song in there, I can feel it!) it’s best to continue working with cream based products for ease of blending and avoiding cakiness. Josie Maran’s Argan Infinity Cream Intensive Creamy Oil incorporates two of my favorite oils, Argan and coconut, mixed with pigmented color that comes in a range from subtle rose to bright coral that not only hydrates but gives a light flush of color that can be layered for intensity. Plus, it smells delish and the tiniest of daubs gives the perfect flush.
NARS The Matte Multiple: In the vein of creamier things for your facial region, NARS The Multiple comes into play and its a serious contender for one of the best cosmetics ever. However, I was never a massive fan of The Multiple for years after high school because of the shimmer factor. I do not like shimmer in my face makeup; I am not pubescent. When I found out The Multiple came out in Matte, I was over the non-shimmery moon! Ranging in color from vivid orchid to a caramel brown perfectly suitable for contouring, the choice is yours on how to use it and where to do so. Simply blend with your fingers and let it soak in or for more precise application, opt for a smooth flat brush or sponge. The name basically sums it up, The Multiple is ideal for a girl on the go, popped into a clutch, and used for lips, cheeks, eyes…whatever suits your fancy!
MAC Lipstick: When you’re on the road, in the sky, or floating the sea- there are two lipsticks to have on hand. Always. MAC Freckletone and MAC Hang Up. They seem to work for all types of coloring whether translucent porcelain or tanned to a crisp. Freckletone is the ideal nude, not too orange and not too pink and Hang Up is the wine stained lip we all dream of…a night out in Italy, roaming the streets with a half drunk bottle of Bordeaux in one arm and a handsome man’s hand clutching the other. Oh, excuse me, I got distracted. Hang Up and Freckletone. Can’t go wrong.
Kiehl’s Lip Balm: Not a heavy lipstick/makeup type of gal? Do your thang. But also do take care of your kisser, because it’s important, the thin, sensitive skin can be burned and can get cancer and no one wants cancer. Aside from that- your lips should feel nice and feel healthy. My favorite way to keep them that way? With Kiehl’s lip balm. Tube form. Mint flavored. Simple enough and lasts for months.
Hand cream & H20: One of the first things you’ll notice on the plane (if its the type of thing you notice, maybe it’s the wings or plane model or something of that sort) is that your hands begin to resemble current Madonna’s, or the Crypt Keeper’s- and that’s not a great thing. First point of business, start to guzzle water- because the root of all hydration comes from- DUH- water. Try and never get to the point of thirst because if you’re there- then you’re already dehydrated. Not only will water help your body cope with the altitude change, the myriad of germs doing little dances up your nose, and help keep you energized- it’ll give you an “inner glow” that can’t be achieved with any bronzer on this earth. Not only is a douse of water important for your innards, it’s great to refresh with a misting of Avene’s Thermal Spring Water. It hydrates, balances the pH levels of your skin, and gives an overall pick-me-up for a tired visage. Aside from staying watered up in and out, keep your paws nice and soft with a good hand cream. If I don’t have Mixta (French, sometimes hard to find, but extremely cheap…I think there’s something magical in it) at my digits, I’ll go for Soap & Glory’s Hand Food. A bit sweeter smelling, but it’ll do the trick!
J. Crew Cashmere Sweater: Like Avene Cold Cream, my J. Crew Cashmere Tee (long sleeved, don’t let the name fool you) has followed me around the world. Although its a bit worn in at the sleeves, holes and such, which just makes me love it more, it’s a classic piece and does the trick for keeping cozy on an over-air conditioned plane and light enough to stash away in my carry-on once I arrive in a place under the sweltering sun. Choose a light gray (or camel or black) to start before meandering into the pastels and brights. Neutral is the key for me!
Nike Lunar Flyknits: By far the best travel shoe I’ve encountered (sorry Repetto, sorry black moto boots of a hundred designer, sorry Converse). These lightweight yet style-worthy kicks can be slipped on and off quickly enough for security checks, look good dressed up with a draped rayon mini and oversized Vince tee and a statement necklace or with jeans and a hoodie. Wins all around!
Ampersand As Apostrophe Tall Tote and Buffalo Hide Parcel: Yes, both. And yes, invest. My buffalo parcel has now touched the dirt of eight countries during the past ten months I’ve owned it and not once has it let me down. Never has a strap broken (it comes with three!), an occasion seem strange for it to be worn, or an outfit it doesn’t go with. Never has it gotten scuffed beyond repair, not been big enough to carry everything above plus more (its also known as my Mary Poppin’s bag) and it’s beautiful. So there. And I took the liberty of purchasing both the black and gold totes (and a grape for mi madre!) knowing I would get a massive amount of use out of them. And look at that- I have! Mine is currently filled with Monster Munch crisps, Cadbury Double Decker bars for Ryan, an indulgent bag filled with treats from MAC, Boots, and the Duty Free shop not to mention space for my laptop and a fatty book.
Portable phone charger: Maybe it’s Apple, maybe it’s my over usage of Instagram and now Scramble (thanks to my mother for that one)- but my phone dies within about three hours of taking it off the charger. It’s scary when you land and don’t have access to means of communication because well, pay phones are pretty much a thing of history. Invest (or not- I got mine for $30 for a one charge dealy thing) in a portable charger that you can charge at home and plug in on the go. If you find yourself at an ancient castle, nose to nose with Nessie or a sasquatch, or just need to get to some emails and your phone is dead you can just pop your extra charger in and you’re reconnected. Technology.
Moleskine Notepad: Any notebook will do. Actually, the back of a receipt or a napkin or even two ply toilet paper will even do. Great writers through the decades have scribbled chapters of their magnum opuses (opi?) on scrap paper. Or maybe they haven’t and just say they did because it sounds romantic and whimsical and instead were jotting their notes, ideas, thoughts, and experiences into a notebook filled with creamy blank pages encased in a light yet sturdy cover. Like a Moleskin notepad. Or something like it. Whether you write, draw, or jot- it’s good to have a notebook or pad on hand in case something comes up you really want to remember. And let’s face it, scrawling something in a beautiful book seems a lot nicer than tapping it into the “Notes” app on your phone, doesn’t it?
A good book: I can’t really give this one a real title because a good book is something different to everyone. Some people may want to use their holiday time to reread a Gossip Girl installation or something along the Twilight genre and another might take the time to delve into Odysseus or The Grapes of Wrath. It’s not for me to judge (but I probably will a little bit). But there are going to be times when you’re stuck in a dead airport with no McDonalds and shite vending machines, shady Wi-fi, stranded overnight with a dead phone (hence the portable charger) and standby tickets going no where, or a cancelled flight when you really wish you had something more interesting to read than the back of your soda can or the sad, sticky copy of hello! you found on a lonely bench. Or maybe you actually like to read, and in that case, bring two really great books. You can always buy another at your destination- because screw Kindles. (currently I’m reading: He’s Back and The Goldfinch)
Snacks: Do you ever begin to get really, really crabby? As in annoyed to the point where your eyes have seen the back of your head several times in the past minute or two and the Sam Weir look is constantly on your face. Like REALLY raging. Like Hulked, rage-blackout type furious? Well, I do. And that’s not even when I’m on the rag- so now try to unimagine that. It’s when I’m hungry. And that’s a sorry and sad excuse to make everyone around me miserable just because my blood sugar is low. So either you’re bi-polar and that should probably be addressed- or you should just be fed little snacks throughout the day constantly. Nuts, leafy green things, trail mix (all the stuff I don’t actually really crave…) are ideal for kicks of long lasting and healthy energy that may save you a cat fight or worthless bickering during a trip. And if you’re traveling with your boss, maybe your job. Coconut water is also a brilliant little pick me up- but again, go for the real thing if possible. Nothing like a big green coconut to slurp!
Yes, now two hours or so into the flight and my legs are beginning to get crawly and I can’t really feel my butt and my ears are popping and it’s that rowdy temperature that does a little jig right between freezing and hot as hell…but at least I’ve got those little comforts that I’m lucky enough to have. The creams, the cloths, the cozy. Those things- and a glass of sauvignon blanc, thoughts back on the chilly and fantastical vacation I had embarked on two weeks ago, thoughts of my kittens in Cambodia, and what a delicious oyster this world has become.