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!







Halló Iceland!

In March 2014, seven friends and I took a trip to the land of fire and ice. Iceland was altogether breathtaking, strange, overwhelming and exhilarating. 45 percent of all visitors to the country are under the age of 30, so it’s a great country to visit for a group of young adults looking for a quick getaway, but travelers of all ages will find plenty to explore in Iceland.

I’ve finally gotten around to writing my thoughts on the trip and some helpful tips for visiting Iceland. Njóta (enjoy)!

Getting There and Staying There

The members of our group paid approximately $580 each for a round-trip, non-stop fare from Washington – Dulles International Airport (IAD) to Keflavík International Airport (KEF) on IcelandAir. We departed on a Thursday evening and the rest of the group (I continued my travels solo) returned on a Tuesday afternoon. IcelandAir is a fabulous airline (I wrote about it in June) and the four-hour trip was virtually painless. Plus, our checked bags were free.

Our gorgeous home in Iceland.

Our gorgeous home in Iceland.

IcelandAir offers discount package deals which include transportation to/from the airport, as well a stay at the Hilton (or other budget hotels in the area). Because our group was so large, we opted to rent a house instead. We chose Rent in Reykjavik, and the company’s owners, Jenny and Kata, were just wonderful. We stayed in the Thomsen – Luxury home, and not only was it a gorgeous house, it was also centrally located in downtown Reykjavik, in walking distance to all the sights, restaurants and bars. There was a slight hiccup with our check-in, but other than that, our stay was perfect. For four nights, we each paid $220.

We also rented two cars (correction: two tiny cars that could barely hold four of us and our luggage) that cost around $280 each for four days. That means we each spent $70 for cars we kept for the entire trip. Gas was a bit expensive, but we appreciated having our own transportation. That meant we could travel at our own pace, stop along the way, listen to strange Icelandic music and enjoy the quiet and privacy we couldn’t get on a bus. It’s worth noting, however, that the rental car depot is off-site from the airport, so it’s important to look for your name placard held by an employee. He or she will drive your group in a van across the street to the airport to pick up the car. From the airport, it’s about a 40 minute scenic drive to downtown.

So, before we left the U.S., each of us spent a whopping $870 for a non-stop flight, MTV Cribs: Reykjavik-caliber house and two cars we could use throughout our trip. Not bad, right?

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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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