Time to Create Your Red Eye Kit

Hi, fellow travelers! It’s been a long time since I’ve written. Between launching my own company for my full-time job (I wish it were travel writing, of course) and planning a wedding, things have been pretty hectic.

Back to the wedding bit, my fiancé is Austrian, so I’m back and forth from central Europe quite a bit. I’ve become a master of red eye travel, even if I can’t sleep very well on a plane. This often leaves me groggy and out of sorts when I finally arrive at my European destination.

I decided to tackle this problem once and for all, so I created my own “red eye kit” to store in my carry-on for my transatlantic flights. They have truly helped to refresh me after a long journey, sending me on my way to a productive day – whether that’s a business meeting or sightseeing.

Here’s what’s inside my red eye kit.

The Bag: Sephora’s “Beauty on the Fly” Bag ($4.95 or free with qualifying travel size purchases).

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This TSA-friendly reusable bag is a must-have. It’s transparent, so it’ll zip through security checks with ease. It holds a lot, but it’s also compact enough to slip into a purse, as well.

Makeup Remover: Neutrogena Travel Size Towelettes ($2.95).

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Before nodding off into sky-high dreamland, make sure to remove your makeup! These travel size towelettes are easy to use and fit nicely in your red eye kit.

The Sleeping Mask: Prices vary.

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Some airlines will give you an inexpensive cloth sleeping mask, or you could purchase it elsewhere. The smaller, lightweight options are easily folded for storage in your red eye kit.

The Moisturizer: Le Mer Moisturizing Cream (Free).

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The skin really dries out from a lot of flying. To prevent it dulling, grab a sample size moisturizer from your favorite department store. The samples are typically small enough to be TSA compliant, and they’ll probably last more than one trip.

The Eye Mask: Sephora Green Tea Eye Mask ($5).

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Before slipping your sleep mask on, place the two patches contained in this eye mask underneath your peepers. The skin under your eyes is very thin, and this mask will deeply moisturize it while you snooze. It makes a huge difference, I promise.

The Sleep Aid: NatureMade Melatonin ($6.99).

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This 3mg all natural sleep aid will send you snoozing in no time. It’s totally safe to use, but just make sure you’ll get at least 6 hours of sleep on the flight or you’ll end up groggy upon arriving at your destination.

The Pain Reliever: Aleve ($6.63).

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There’s probably no worse place to get sick than an airplane. Pack this small bottle of pain reliever in your red eye kit so you’re always prepared for sinus headaches, hangovers and general “airplane flu.”

The Dry Shampoo: Bumble and Bumble “Prêt-à-Powder” ($12).

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When you wake up from your airplane slumber, this mini bottle of wonder powder will surely be a lifesaver! Tackle bedhead (or, in this case, really-small-and-uncomfortable-seat-head) by sprinkling a tiny amount of this dry shampoo into your hand and massaging your scalp with it. It will give you good-as-new hair before deplaning!

The Teeth Cleaners: Toothbrush (prices vary), Miniature Toothpaste (prices vary), Miniature Mouthwash (prices vary) and Flossing Tooth Picks (prices vary).

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Airplane breath is pretty terrible. Get your day started off right, just as you would at home, with a full dental cleaning. Pack a small toothbrush (I’m so serious about this that I even pack my electric toothbrush), mini tube of toothpaste, a travel size mouthwash bottle and even a couple of those floss picks (I find it easier than the typical “spool” style).

The Complexion Pick-Me-Up: Tinted Moisturizer (prices vary).

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Since you probably don’t want to carry a bunch of makeup in your carry-on (and TSA probably won’t let you, anyway), pack a travel size tinted moisturizer. It will give you a little glow, leaving you refreshed after your long flight.

The Spritzer: Caudalie Beauty Elixir ($18).

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After applying your tinted moisturizer (or not, if you’re a guy and not into that sort of thing), spray on a little of this miracle product to freshen up your skin. It will give you that dewey glow – the kind that warrants the use of the word “dewey,” I think – that fools folks into thinking you didn’t just get off a flight. The scent is wonderfully calming.

The Breath Freshener – C.O. Bigelow Mentha Shimmer Tint ($7.50).

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This lip moisturizer doubles as a breath freshener. I love it! You can choose one with a tint and shimmer, or just a plain ole moisturizer. Either way, those around you will be glad you put some on.

Finally, a few more things to consider packing in that bag: a pen (to fill out your landing card), socks (since no one really likes wearing shoes on a plane, right?) and sample perfume vials from a department store (just wait until you’re off the plane so as not to suffocate your fellow passengers!).

Hope you enjoyed these tips and consider making your own kit. If you have any other “must have” items, let me know. And I promise I’ll start trying to write again!

Happy trails!







How to Sleep on a Plane

I just got back from London and Paris for the Thanksgiving holiday (more on that later). I flew Virgin Atlantic, and I highly recommend it. Despite all the plush amenities this airline offers, I, yet again, was unable to sleep on the plane – either on the red eye to London or on the midday return flight to the States.

Must be nice! (Healthy Living Blog)

Must be nice! (Photo Credit: Healthy Living Blog)

Whether it’s excitement about arriving at my destination or a skewed body clock, I can never settle in and get some shut eye. So I turned to the Internet – where else? – to pull together the best tips for using your meaningless hours on an airplane meaningfully – getting some rest.

Here are 8 ways to fall (and stay) asleep on an airplane:

  1. Pick the right itinerary. Multiple travel resources say the surest way to nod off is to select an itinerary that will have you flying when you normally would be asleep. If you depart at 7 p.m., you’ll have a few hours to read or watch a movie before easing into your slumber. Then, you can awake at a somewhat reasonable time (this is most true with transatlantic flights), allowing your rested body to adjust to your new time zone and environs.
  2. Make sure you’re sitting in a sensible spot. Most people (I am one of them) prefer to sit at the front of the plane. It makes for easier disembarkation when you’re ready to get off the vessel. But the front of the plane is typically the nosiest – it’s close to bathrooms, the cockpit and staff moving about. Sitting toward the middle of the aircraft means you’re less likely to be distracted by others on the plane. Real Simple suggests opting for the window seat of an exit row, but those spots are often hard to come by. The magazine says that in order to maximize your seat (and sleep) opportunities, fly on a Tuesday or Wednesday.
  3. Properly accessorize. If it’s bright outside, noisy on the plane or you just can’t manage to “turn your brain off,” a sleep mask and earplugs are a great option. They will simulate (as best as possible) a more normal sleeping environment. Frequent travelers may want to invest in Bose headphones.

    Keep your seat reclined at a 135 degree angle for maximum comfort.

  4. Adjust your seat. The indelible Daily Telegraph has discovered the proper way to align your seat for maximum rest. According to the British Chiropractors Association, the magic number is 135 (degrees, that is).
  5. Drink lots of water – before you get on the plane. Hydration is a critical component to restful sleep. Because you don’t want to scoot through the aisles every hour or two to pop into the loo, try to hydrate 12-24 hours prior to your flight. You’ll feel a lot better when you arrive at your destination, too.
  6. Avoid sugar. Food gives your body energy and thus, makes you antsy on board. Skip the snack or meal and snooze through your flight.
  7. Dress well. Then change. Well-dressed single passengers are the most likely to get bumped up to first class, upper class or business class. I try to dress professionally on planes. But once we take off, I’ll change into yoga pants, a sweatshirt and flip-flops. It’s harder to sleep in a suit for me, so packing a quick change is a good way to relax.
  8. Secure your seatbelt. Make sure you are wearing your seatbelt above your blanket or anything else you might be using while you sleep. This means you’re less likely to be disturbed by flight attendants who periodically check the cabin for safety purposes.

These tips should help you get to snoozing in no time. Now, if only I’d follow them!

When Should I Book?

More often than not, getting somewhere and staying there is the most expensive part of traveling. With so many conflicting instructions for booking hotels and flights, I weighed the evidence and my own experiences to determine how to save the most money on transportation and accommodations.


There’s an old legend among travelers that you’ll get the best fare seven weeks out from your trip. After monitoring more than 4 million flights, CheapAir.com has confirmed that there’s some truth to that advice. The company determined that passengers get the best deals on air travel between 29 and 104 days prior to their trips. Customers found the ticket prices, on average, 54 days before their departure (or seven and a half weeks).

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Riding Solo

Riding Solo” is not just a song by Jason DeRulo (though it is an audio masterpiece, to be sure). As a frequent traveler, I’ve accepted that not all of my friends have the interest or ability to travel as often as I do.

This means that I often take a leg or two of a trip alone. For example, I went to Iceland in March (I will eventually opine on this) and when my friends returned to the U.S., I flew to London to spend a few days with friends there. I wasn’t technically alone, but I did spend a lot of time by myself. The same can be said about my upcoming trip to London and Paris in November. I’ll stay with friends in London, and then I’ll head to Paris for four days alone.

For many people, this seems a bit intimidating. For me, not so much. I enjoy the quiet time (although too much of it can definitely be unnerving), so traveling alone for at least part of a trip is a good way to move on your own schedule, do what you want to do and enjoy what’s around you.

My friend from college, Holly Phillips, has a blog called The Bitter Lemon. While she mainly focuses on relationship advice (and telling some entertaining stories of the frogs she’s kissed in search of her prince), she just published a post with her tips for traveling alone. Here’s what she says:

  1. Research. Blech, I know, that doesn’t sound like fun. If you’re not a planner, then maybe skip this step. But before I go anywhere, I like to find out where I’m going, what kinds of things I need to pack, and what to expect. Maybe you’re looking for a certain hotel, or if you’re going to a foreign country, get the right exchange rate, etc.
  2. Inform. To be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to inform at least one person of where you’re going, leave them a copy of your schedule (if you want), just in case. Assuming you’ll have a cell phone, let them know that’s where they can reach you, or leave the number to your hotel/where you’re staying.
  3. Do you. This is YOUR trip, so plan to do things that you’ve always wanted to do! Go to that restaurant you’ve dreamed of, get a massage — treat yourself!
  4. Make friends. But only if you want. Check into taking an organized day tour to meet people, while seeing some great sights (I did this while visiting Los Angeles on my own and it was a blast). If you’ve still got time to plan your trip, pick a place to stay that’s got a buzz around it — you can meet people right in the hotel!
  5. Keep an open mind. Plan, but be spontaneous. Be open to discovering new things — including yourself — while traveling on your own. That’s the best part (aside from those single discounts)

I can’t post this without making a note that, of course, traveling on your own, especially if you’re a woman, comes with risks. Use common sense. Don’t go places that look shady, or make you feel uncomfortable. Keep tabs on your finances. Let someone know where you are. Be smart… and have fun!

The Perfect Weekender Bag

Although I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert traveler for both business and pleasure, I’m admittedly guilty of not being the best packer. On a recent European jaunt, I visited two different countries with two entirely different climates. At my mother’s recommendation (she was once a travel agent, so I happily defer to her on such matters), I purchased vacuum-sealed travel bags, so I could cram as much as possible into my checked luggage. It was a great idea, except I didn’t have a vacuum with which I could seal the bags for my return to the States, so rushing to throw everything together the morning of my departure from London was quite stressful.

I had also accumulated a lot of things over the course of my journey, from books to shoes. Upon my arrival at the baggage drop at Gatwick, the IcelandAir representative alerted me to the fact that my bag was way over the weight. By how much, I’ll never know, as it was in kilos and, quite frankly, they might as well have been gazintas. The nice Icelandic lady attempted to explain to me that I could move some things to my carry-on so I wouldn’t have to pay a fee, but my carry-on was a small backpack, so nothing more would fit. I was stuck paying more than $100 in fees on an airline that promises a free checked bag.

So, in order to avoid this headache on a future flight and to prevent cramming everything into a giant suitcase for a Canadian excursion in two weeks, I conducted a bit of crowd-sourcing. I asked my friends on Facebook, “Where can I buy a weekender/duffel bag for women that is NOT Vera Bradley? ” For those curious about the gender caveat, I don’t care for Vera Bradley’s bags and most of the carry-ons I see are designed with men in mind.

I got some great responses, so I’ll share with you the best ideas friends offered (after I filter out the sarcastic replies from my pals who see social media as their stage at improv night):

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When to Arrive at the Airport

The airport waiting game.

The airport waiting game.

As a former presidential campaign staffer, I spent a lot of time flying. Half of those trips began out at the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport- the second busiest airport in the world. While the airport has lots of amenities, arriving at your gate in time for your flight often proves to be a challenge.

That’s why I was fascinated by a theory from Jordan Ellenberg, a mathematics professor and author of How Not To Be Wrong – The Hidden Maths of Everyday Life. Ellenberg (fantastic name, by the way) claims that “if you’ve never missed a flight, you’re not doing it right.” He concludes that “if you consistently arrive at an airport three hours ahead of take-off, then it is true, you may never miss a flight. However, he claims that over the course of a lifetime you will also waste countless hours browsing duty-free shops and snoozing in airport lounges.”

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Anthony Bourdain’s Guide to Traveling Well

Anthony Bourdain in Vietnam (Travel Channel).

Anthony Bourdain in Vietnam (Travel Channel).

On his hit Travel Channel program, “No Reservations,” Anthony Bourdain enjoys some adventurous culinary experiences around the globe – including France, Iceland, New Jersey (!!), Vietnam, Malaysia, Sicily, Las Vegas, Uzbekistan and New Zealand. And that’s just the first season! Along the way, he’s discovered more than just unique cuisine. As he explains in a September 2013 interview with Esquire Magazine, Bourdain has learned how to travel well, from making flying more comfortable to indulging in a bit of luxury upon arrival.

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