I spend 40% of my life engaged in professional or personal travel. For example, I spent last week in Laos and I will travel to Haiti tomorrow for 10 days followed by a long weekend in Atlanta by months end. I can unequivocally say, travel is my one true love and I’ve dedicated much of my time to perfecting the art of it. Today, I’d like to share with you a few of my tips to traveling flawlessly. Well executed travel can be broken down into perfecting four phases: the planning, the preparation, the journey and the recovery.
Every great journey starts with planning the right booking with the right airline. If you want the royal treatment on a working woman’s budget it’s important to have a preferred airline that you consistently use. Fidelity counts in the airline business and a frequent flier will quickly rack up on miles that will entitle you to upgrades, lounges with free food, Wi-Fi, showers and booze even preferential treatment. In 2011, I made Diamond status with Delta airlines. I was sitting in coach on my way to Rwanda, when a flight attendant came to me and said, Ms. McKay On behalf of Delta airline I thank you for Flying with us, have a wonderful flight. The guy beside stared at me, astonished! I shrugged “I’m kind of a big deal.”
In the old days, the traveling part of travel was fun, even glamourous but times have changed and navigating the airport can be a serious pain in the assumption unless you plan ahead. Do yourself a favor, get a known traveler status which includes TSA pre-check and global entry. For $100 dollars you get to breeze past the long security lines and US customs and keep your shoes on—for five years! It’s fabulous! Once you’ve established “status” with your preferred airline as a known traveler, the next big decision is planning your booking. If you have the miles or can afford the cost outright, nothing beats a first or business class ticket, but if you are low on cash you can still fly in reasonable comfort and class by purchasing an economy comfort seat. These seats are located just behind business class, give you more leg room, a slightly plusher seat than coach and provide outlets for charging laptops and mobile devices. With the right airline status and an economy comfort booking, you’ve already upgraded your travel experience on a very economical budget.
A really great journey continues with the right wardrobe and the perfect carry on. To pack a like a pro:
Roll everything and put it in large zip lock bags or packing cubes. This way of packing saves an incredible amount of space, keeps everything organized and can double as laundry bags.
Minimize the amount of clothes you take by sticking to the same color palette. It ensures that any two things you pull out of your suitcase will match. I recently packed an “all –white” suitcase on a trip to Greece. The most effortless wardrobe ever and my photos looked incredible against all that magical blue water.
One color palette also means you can reduce the pairs of shoes. I prefer to pack neutral and comfortable shoes like this pair of sandals because once my feet hurt I’m ready to go home.
Unlike Beyoncé, I do not wake up like this, so I actually have a travel spa kit guaranteed to keep you skin glowing and flawless: includes face mask kit; tweezers and hair removal strips, , Zit cream—b/c I invariably battle a breakout every trip. As well as Eye cream and concealer. Throw in a shiny lip balm for everyday and a little lipstick for a pop of color in the evenings. Et voila—a perfect travel wardrobe!
Now, a good known traveler always has the perfect carryon in size and content. My inflight must haves include:
- Prescription Grade Compression socks. These are a critical inflight beauty accessory. In June I flew to Mozambique for a workplaning session—a 14 hour direct flight, I forgot my compression socks. I came off the plane with Stay Puff Marshmallow Man legs. I literally looked like I was baking bread in my shoes. And by the way, I recently learned from a doctor friend that to get the best compression, one should be properly fitted for compression socks by a podiatrist.
- Second must have my ear, nose and eyes moisture kit: Dehydration is as sure as kankles on a long flight so make sure you pack your rehydration kit: essential oil nose inhaler, spray evian not only moisturizers the skin but gives you a nice glow right before coming off the plane, lotion, lip balm and eye drops
- Bring your own food so you don’t have to buy over-priced, high calorie airport food; include foods high in Fiber b/c long flights slow your digestive system way down.
- Pashmina/sweater—I don’t know those blankets on the plane and I don’t cover my body with them. Bring your own!
- Comfortable pants—b/c my stomach needs mercy on a long flight. I put these in my carry on and change as soon as I get on and off the plane.
- An extra pair of cotton underwear without elastic waistbands. Just in case your luggage gets lost. And include an extra shirt, deodorant and toothbrush/toothpaste for the same reason
In addition to the perfect carryon, I offer some helpful inflight behavior tips:
-Eat light on the plane you will sleep better and reduce that bloated look and feeling
Avoid alcohol, but if you must limit to 1 beverage per six hours
Drink 1-2 cups of water every hour, walk around every 2 hours and do the inflight stretches periodically while you are seated.
Now you have arrived and you want to reduce recovery time so it’s important to create a welcoming environment in your hotel room. Especially for business travel, you don’t always get to pick your hotel. I’ve stayed in everything from 5-star hotels in Abu Dhabi to converted UN shipping containers in South Sudan. I always bring my own sheets including a pillow case, towels and shower flip flops.
I also use a eucalyptus linen spray on the bed and nice body shop air freshner to make the room feel more familiar.
Unpack your bag; set up your toiletries in the bathroom, hang your clothes. Your room is now a sanctuary for your recovery. Start off by taking a 30-45 minute nap. When you wake up go for a long walk outside if possible it helps the brain to familiarize with the surroundings and your circulation by taking in oxygen.
Come back take a shower and exfoliate with a loofah or a body scrub to help also with blood circulation. Moisturize! Eat a light dinner and hopefully all that fiber you ate on the plane kicks in before you head to bed as close to your normal bed time as a possible.
And there you have it: thanks to proper planning and preparation, you’re now well on the road to quickly recovering from jetlag and enjoying a fabulous trip.
When travel is part of your career, it becomes part of your life—a part of who you are. As such, it’s important to take a vested interest in defining who you are as a traveler. One might ask, what does it mean to define what kind of traveler I am and why does it matter [...]
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