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).

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 9.21.38 AM

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).

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 9.35.15 AM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 9.25.35 AM.png

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).

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 9.33.04 AM.png

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).

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 9.28.51 AM.png

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).

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 9.50.22 AM.png

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).

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 9.38.19 AM.png

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).

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 9.42.49 AM.png

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).

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 9.47.55 AM.png

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).

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 9.53.56 AM.png

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).

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 9.55.19 AM.png

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).

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 9.59.18 AM.png

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!

Washingtonians, Time to Try IcelandAir

A few months ago, I organized an incredible trip with seven friends to Iceland (much, much more on that later), and we flew IcelandAir from Washington – Dulles International Airport (IAD) to Keflavik International Airport (KEF) outside of Reykjavik, Iceland. The price of our ticket? A whopping $580 (which is actually quite pricey for that flight in the winter). Our trip from D.C. to Reykjavik took less than five hours and we landed just as the sun appeared from behind the moss-covered cliffs of the Icelandic countryside.

If you can get past its staggeringly antiquated website, flying with IcelandAir is a great experience. There was WiFi available for the entire flight, and the seats were pretty comfortable. You have your choice of English language in-flight entertainment, both British and American, as well as Icelandic programming. IcelandAir also shows videos on Icelandic tourism on-board, which are both hilarious and informative. Even their safety video has garnered international attention for being, well, utterly Icelandic. Also, be sure to try the Icelandic Water they offer upon boarding the plane — it’s delicious.

I emphatically recommend visiting Iceland because it truly exceeded every expectation I had. After its economic collapse in 2008, the country sought to attract more Americans (and it worked — we saw Americans everywhere). The jaw-dropping flight deals are even sweeter when coupled with super low hotel rates. Now, it’s quite expensive once you actually arrive in Reykjavik, but getting there and staying there can be done quite cheaply.

But, you don’t have to be heading to the land of elves to fly IcelandAir. In fact, IcelandAir is known for its cheap flights from the U.S. to Europe. Since all of their flights to the rest of Europe stop in Reykjavik for a layover anyway, IcelandAir has a pretty savvy idea to attract tourists: you can enjoy a stay in Iceland en route to your final destination for no additional airfare. So, if you’re heading from New York City to, say, Copenhagen, you’d simply book your fare to Copenhagen using their special search engine and add a stay in Iceland (I’d recommend three days/two nights to see Golden Circle, Reykjavik and Blue Lagoon).

And if you live in D.C., there’s never been a better time to try out IcelandAir. The airline is celebrating year-round service from the capital city with a contest – #icelanDChase – that includes free plane tickets.

Continue reading

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.”

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading