As the days grow long and the grass grows green (here’s looking at you, North East), we find ourselves itching to skip forward to when the weather is more consistent, and with Spring Break on the horizon, we are gearing up to go someplace that isn’t…well…here. We’re pulling our suitcases, warm weather wardrobe, and, most importantly, our bodies out of hibernation and excitedly plotting our next trip. With that excitement, comes the anxieties of packing and the stress of impending travel.
If you, like us, have ever agonized over which shoes to wear on your way to the airport or whether or not that dorky neck pillow is actually worth the schlep…..then this is going to be worth the read. We interviewed two long-standing flight attendants (with a combined 90 years experience!), and we got their take on the dos and don’ts of air travel, the must-haves in your carry-on, how the crew really feels about the barefoot passenger, and more!
As the logical progression of a conversation about the do’s, don'ts, and top tips would have it, we started at the beginning. Travel prep was top of mind when I sat down to chat with Susie, who has been with Delta Airlines for 32 years, and Lissi, a recent retiree with 57 years at TWA and, subsequently, American Airlines under her belt.
Both women have been Flight attendants for their entire working lives, and had some great insight to share. We talked all things bag style, to roll–or not when packing clothes, and I put together a list of what I think are the most helpful hacks!
If it doesn't have four wheel drive, just leave it behind
Most suitcases these days have four wheels, and both women swear up and down that this is the best (and only) option for maneuvering through tight security lines, busy airports, and even–at times–cities.
It’s cool to be square!
Lissi swears by packing cubes, and frankly, so do I! They keep me neat and tidy and help curb my overpacking (if it fits it ships style)...but enough about me! Lissi reasons that it helps everything to compress and lie flat. You can even tuck smaller items around the sides to help keep the cubes shape.
Monochrome or coordinating neutrals FTW
Both women confess to packing multi-use, wrinkle-free, pieces in a coordinating color palette for ease of mix-n-match outfit making. (Susie loves the versatile Tunic Tank Dress, whereas Lissi is more of a Vera V-Neck Tee gal herself (both have built in bras!). Packing this way allows you to spend less time worrying about which top goes with which skirt and more time on the things that truly matter–are you getting a mai tai on the beach or a piña colada???
When packing, flat, alternating fold stacks are better
Susie and Lissi both fold their clothes and prefer to iron or steam at their destination. Susie explained that if you roll your clothes, you will have to deal with the inevitable (and dreaded) premature unroll while rummaging around for pajamas you buried at the bottom of the bag!
Carry-On Must Haves
Buried PJs brings me to my favorite tip from Susie who always keeps a freezer-sized zip pouch in her carry-on with an emergency LBD, a la Holly Golightly, comfortable enough to sleep in and chic enough for dinner out (try our Vera V neck Dress or The Savannah Strappy Dress). In the same pouch she will usually have a swimsuit (just in case), an extra pair of underwear, a few hair ties, and, for a simple and fresh face–wherever and no matter what–a few sample sizes of her favorite makeup. “That way, if your bag gets lost (sobbing emoji), you’ll always have everything you need!”
Other carry-on must haves from both women include:
Entertainment: book, magazine, and/or any device you like and their chargers (bonus points if you preload your favorite tv shows and movies for the flight!)
Noise cancelling headphones
A refillable water bottle (just don’t be me and fill it at home, before leaving (for enroute hydration to the airport) and then forget and be forced to choose between forfeiting a $45–still full water vessel to the TSA, or dump it and get back in line to do it all over again…needless to say I was very thirsty that trip)
SNACKS–yes, capital letter SNACKS! You’re never going to be upset you packed too many snacks. Who doesn’t love leftover GORP?! (good old raisins & peanuts, for those of you not married to an Eagle Scout)
Day Of Travel Necessities
Susie and Lissi, both preached the importance of the two key pieces on travel days: Layers, and comfortable, easy-on-easy off shoes. Are we surprised? This may seem like common sense to worldly women like you and I, but S & L had some horror stories, Lissi shares, “On a flight to Germany we had to off-board a passenger in a wheelchair when her feet swelled so much during flight that when we landed, she was unable to get her leather boots back on.”
Lissi suggests wearing long sleeves (our Henley Long Sleeve Top is perfect) or a sweater and closed-toe shoes because planes are always cold and–if going somewhere warm–bring an outfit better suited to the weather in your carry-on and change upon arrival.
Where Comfort and Function Unite!
Both recommend that being comfortable in the air is important…but don’t get TOO comfortable, you’re not at your home-away-from-home yet. Susie says, “I’ve seen people wearing all kinds of things including full blown pajamas and one time even a bathrobe!
Both women reminisce on the past when people gussied up for air travel, and, not to make this about me again, but I wrote about wearing “real,” yet still comfortable, clothes on the plane (spoiler alert: it's all SheBird) not too long ago–you can read that here.
Be sweet to your feet...
The biggest and only “no-no” comes more in the form of a desperate plea than a suggestion, and that is…For the love of god, under no circumstances, go to the loo without your shoes!!! And you know what, I agree! We dragged Brittney across the internet for it– and I won’t stand for the hypocrisy, your friendly cabin flight attendant won’t either.
In fact, both S&L state, one should wear shoes any time you’re are up and about the cabin…that carpet has seen things…things no innocent sock or sole should ever bear witness to.
If you want to be a Fancy B, like those ladies and gents sipping champagne up front, bring a pair of slippers to pop on! Then, just sit back and enjoy your flight, BUT TUNE IN ON SUNDAY to find out how Susie and Lissi fend off Jet Lag!
BY: Katerina Rioseco