WHAT TO BRING ON A FLIGHT
If you wear contacts, wear your glasses when you fly. You never know when you’ll get separated from your luggage and contact solution. Spending an unexpected night in the airport is bad enough without sleeping in your contacts.
It's never not freezing in an airport.
3. SPORTS BRA
Who are you looking perky for, the TSA agent yelling at you? The Cinnabon paparazzi? Just settle those boobs in some comfy spandex and call it a day. A sports bra is also a good place to stash your passport or wallet in an emergency landing or while sleeping when you're stuck in the airport.
Sure, people used to dress up for flights and that was classy, but can you imagine Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint trying to get through modern-day security with garter belts and safety razors, dragging their own luggage across O'Hare in heels and wingtips, or enduring 6 hours crammed in an airplane seat wearing girdles, neckties and perfect coiffures? So go ahead, do leggings as pants.
The great debate: should you wear slip-on shoes for the TSA, or your most bulky boots or chunky heels to save precious space? The answer came to me in a flash over the Pacific Ocean as the Sydney flight crew requested we all assume crash landing position (head tucked, hand holding nearest loved one): you should wear athletic shoes that will help, not hinder, a blind panicked scramble toward the exits, including over the slippery metal wings, and that you can wear quite comfortably for the next 24-48 hours while you’re stuck where you never expected to be. Because emergency survival is more important than saving luggage space, and dying is more of a hassle than untying your shoelaces at Security.
6. PASHMINA SCARF
The long wide kind you can use as a shawl; actual wool is best, because it’s much warmer than acrylic (and no place is chillier than an airport in the summertime). Drape it over your head like a ghost costume for an instant blanket, eye mask, air filter and personal humidifier. It's quite handy when you reach your destination as well.
7. IMMUNE SYSTEM BOOSTERS / SUPPLEMENTS
Like anything diet-related, recommendations for supplements and foods to stave off sickness are highly individual and impassioned, but most agree you'll benefit from Vitamin C (Emergen-C, citrus, peppers, cantaloupe, various berries), fresh leafy "powerhouse" herbs like oregano and parsley (or concentrated oil derived from them, available at health food stores), garlic (the more raw, the better), ginger, and green tea.
8. MEALS AND SNACKS
Your immune system is extra vulnerable when traveling, so it won't do you any favors to eat at airport kiosks where under-paid workers are pressured to come into work sick. You can brown bag it, so long as there are no liquid or spreadable ingredients.
9. INFLATABLE NECK PILLOW
Sure, you might feel stupid tonguing its nubbin like a tuba while judgmental strangers look on, but those haters will be jealous when you’re comfortable.
10. ESSENTIAL TOILETRIES
We all know by now that our liquids must be in 3.4 oz or smaller bottles inside a clear 1-qt plastic bag. Tuck a smaller clear pouch containing in-flight essentials (hand sanitizer, deodorant, lip balm, toothpaste, face wash, moisturizer) inside the larger bag for easy access after going through security. To avoid bringing the entire bottle of toner or facial oil on overnight flights, dip a cotton cosmetic pad, wrap it in a sandwich bag, and take that instead. Contact lens cases are also good for small portions.
11. HAND SANITIZER
Use it. Before eating, before touching your face, after getting through the airport, after rifling through the seat pouch. Wipe down the touchscreen, buttons and armrests. Use it after arriving, getting through that airport, and taking ground transportation. If you get the chance to wash with real soap, take it. Don't be lazy about this!
12. HIDING PLACE FOR MONEY
Spread your cash around: in your pocket, your checked baggage, your carry-on, and a little in your bra for a true emergency. They say to hide some in an empty chapstick tube, but who doesn't immediately lose those (and it's... not such a secret anymore)? So instead I suggest: temporary tattoos. Go buy a small flat package of temporary tattoos shaped like clowns or maybe ghosts saying "BOO!" and tuck your money and cards into the package behind the tattoo sheets. Then enjoy the absolute certainty that no one on Earth would want to steal that. You can also try: cash rolled up inside a tampon cartridge or folded inside a maxi pad and carried in your purse; folded in a pack of gum; tucked inside a pack of Kleenexes. The back of a pack of cheap oil blotting sheets or an old empty makeup compact from a brand like Wet & Wild or Jesse's Girl (low risk of theft) works for cards and cash.
13. SMALL BOOK OR NOTEBOOK
You never know when you'll get stuck somewhere and can't charge your electronics. Even a few pieces of blank paper will do to keep you entertained.
Smartphones or tablets pre-loaded with songs, podcasts, movies, games or books. If you're nervous about flying, music over headphones will help a lot. Laid back jazz is my favorite for turbulence; I think the loose rhythm disguises the unexpected bumps.
15. AVOID ALCOHOL, DIFFICULT SHOES, AND PERFUME
Avoid strong perfume as a courtesy to your seat mates, and avoid uncomfortable shoes as a courtesy to yourself. Avoiding alcohol may be less obvious, but it's a huge favor to your immune system. Bombarded with new places and germs, deprived of sleep, out of your usual routine, crowded next to strangers, your immune system is exceptionally vulnerable when traveling. And if your body is already trying to fight something off, drinking all but guarantees you'll get sick. It's thankfully easy to refuse a $9 Miller Lite during the beverage service, but also be conscientious of refraining the day before and after flying, from goodbye parties and airport terminal bars, to catching up with friends over drinks when you arrive, exploring the nightlife, and dining out.
Pictured: Aurelia tortoise glasses by Warby Parker, Orange Label zip hoodie in Hot Mint Marl, Adidas by Stella McCartney mesh-paneled stretch-scuba sports bra in Marigold, The Upside Yi striped cotton-terry track pants, Chuck Taylor All Star Fresh Colors in Lemon Chrome, Wool scarf in Karma Stripe, grey / black by See Design, Kingsley Clear Vinyl Rectangular Travel / Cosmetics Bag, Moleskine Classic Colored Notebook in Underwater Blue, Time Out by The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Monk's Mood - Selected Recordings by Tholonious Monk.