My Airplane Routine in 8 Steps

My Airplane Routine

I love traveling by airplane. It’s one of the few opportunities I have to be in my own world. If I’m traveling for fun, I can use the time to catch-up on reading or watch a movie I meant to see in theaters. And when I’m traveling for work, it’s an opportunity to decline meetings and actually tackle long-term projects or knock-out overdue tasks. I have a fastidious airplane routine that helps me get settled in and comfortable before take-off.

  1. Clean the tray table. Airplane turnover is notoriously under-staffed and done at a bare minimum. While I’m not a germaphobe, I do wipe down my tray table of any leftover stickiness. I especially like to travel with these Herban Essentials wipes for cleaning tray tables and my hands.
  2. Put essentials in the seat-back pocket. With the exception of my laptop (which has to stay stowed for takeoff), I like to pull out anything I might want during the flight and place it into the seatback pocket. I don’t like having to repeatedly rummage through my bag throughout the flight, especially once my seatmates arrive.
  3. Braid my hair. Seriously! If I put my hair up in a French braid, it’s more comfortable to sleep in than a ponytail and it gives my hair a little texture upon landing.
  4. Moisturize. The interior of an airplane is arid. I’m prone to dry skin, so I make sure to put on facial moisturizer and hand lotion before takeoff and again before landing.
  5. Layer. I’m always cold so being on an airplane is no exception. Depending on where you’re traveling to or from, your clothes might not match the plane’s interior temp. Before taking off, I layer. My go-to plane outfit is a jacket over a sweater over a tee + pants or a maxi skirt + a wrap scarf.
  6. Keep my shoes on. For red eyes, I do like to switch out my shoes for slippers, but I wait until after take-off. Why keep my shoes on? In case of emergency. Should you need to de-plane, you don’t want to be barefoot and running across the tarmac. Similarly, if you in heels, consider switching into flats during boarding – you cannot wear heels on the emergency slide.
  7. Drink water. Most of my flights are long haul so I try to stay hydrated by drinking a liter of water throughout the flight. It also forces me to get up and walk around. I like to bring my own (empty) bottle to fill-up post-security screening.
  8. Introduce myself. Finally, I like to say hello to my fellow seatmates. And since I have to have an aisle seat, I let the other people in my row know that I’m happy to get up whenever they need to move about, too. #karma

Interested in other in-flight tips? Check out How to Avoid Jet Lag and Surviving a Red Eye from the archives.

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8 Must Haves for Hawaii

Our trip to San Diego this past weekend whetted my appetite for more beach-centered vacations. Fortunately, we’re off again in less than two weeks to Maui! Always the planner, I already have a working draft of my Hawaii packing list. I think I could get by for five days with just these 8 must haves.

8 Must Haves for Hawaii

one. I appreciate how easy a romper is since, like a dress, it’s a complete outfit. I love the contrasting colors and tassle detail of this one.

two. I recently purchased this retro-inspired bikini (top and bottoms) from J.Crew for a song. The high-waisted bottoms are incredibly flattering and will do a great job concealing indulgent meals.

three. What do you do when your husband is significantly darker than you and thus, never mastered the art of applying sunblock? Buy a rashguard / sunshirt so every evening doesn’t devolve into an argument over whose fault your sunburn is. I bought this one from Lands End and love it.

four. Madewell is killing it. I think every item was specifically designed for California and this dress is no exception. I have several light, easy Madewell dresses set aside for Maui.

five. I prefer spray sunblock because it’s easier to apply and because it often means getting closer to the recommended amount for adequate coverage. Supergoop! feels lovely on your skin and doesn’t have that usual sunblock scent.

six. I never travel anywhere without a pair of Birkenstocks these days. I have both the Gizeh and Arizona styles and I prefer the Gizehs just a bit more. These are perfect from sun-up to sun-down.

seven. Even on tropical vacations, light outerwear is required, if only to remain comfortable on your flight. I’ve had my J.Crew denim jacket for five years now and I love how it gets a little more worn in every year.

eight. I love a floppy straw hat to stay cool and keep my face out of the sun. This one has an extra-wide brim and is under $25.


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3 Days in San Diego

Three Days in San Diego
Seaside in La Jolla

San Diego is just what the doctor ordered for this San Francisco resident who is tired of the summer cold and fog. After just an hour in the air, R. and I landed in sunny southern California to spend 3 days in San Diego two weekends ago.

Three Days in San Diego
The cutest seal pup in La Jolla

Instead of staying in one of the downtown hotels, we opted to rent an Airbnb. After soliciting advice from former and current San Diego residents, we narrowed our location choices down to Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, and La Jolla. We quickly ruled out La Jolla as it tends to be more expensive and while beautiful, is farther away from San Diego-proper, where many of the restaurants and sights are located. After finding few properties in Mission Beach available for a short-term rental, we opted for a house in Pacific Beach, a few blocks from the beach itself.

Three Days in San Diego
Fish and shrimp tacos at Oscar’s Mexican Seafood

Our rental was conveniently located a block off Garnet Avenue, where many restaurants, bars, and shops are located. While in San Diego, we indulged in a lot of freshly caught seafood, hitting up the following restaurants:

  • Oscar’s Mexican Seafood (703 Turquoise Street): No frills restaurant serving a variety of seafood tacos.
  • Costa Brava (1653 Garnet Avenue): Tapas restaurants that made me think I was back in Spain.
  • Cucina Urbana (505 Laurel Street): Go for the expertly crafted cocktails, stay for pizza, pasta, and the sorbet sampler.
  • Better Buzz Coffee (multiple locations): Local coffee chain featuring unique blends. The honey latte was a treat.
  • Local Krave (3642 Midway Drive): Coffee shop with the best acai bowls!
  • Great Maple (1451 Washington Street): Popular brunch spot (that even accepts reservations!). Get the maple bacon doughnuts and admire their mid-century modern decor.
Three Days in San Diego
Botanical Gardens | Balboa Park

In between meals, we spent time at the beach and also indulged in a day at the Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa. If you book a spa service, you have complimentary access to the resort for the day, including access to its fitness center, pool, and vitamin C-infused showers. You can also pay a day rate of about $45 for the same amount of access. We also fit in some sightseeing:

  • La Jolla: Enjoy the walking path along the Pacific Ocean and see the local seals, pelicans, and other wildlife.
  • San Diego Zoo: Price-y and not all that different from the (free) National Zoo in D.C. We took advantage of their late evening hours and hung out until 8:30pm.
  • Balboa Park: Large complex of gardens and museums.

    Three Days in San Diego
    San Diego Zoo
Three Days in San Diego
San Diego Zoo
Three Days in San Diego
Spanish architecture in Balboa Park
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Packing Light in Europe

A friend recently asked me what she should pack for an upcoming trip to Europe. Her goal is to pack as few items as possible because she wants to travel with a (large) backpack instead of a traditional suitcase. The challenge is that she’s traveling for two weeks and through countries with differing climates (i.e., Spain and Germany & Austria). I think the following set of items accomplishes her goal of packing light in Europe while also fitting in and looking casual-chic.

Packing Light in Europe
one | two | three | four | five | six | seven | eight | nine | ten | eleven | twelve

I would pack three t-shirts (or maybe two t-shirts and one tank) in neutral colors, which gives you six different outfits with the addition of two bottoms. An over-sized cashmere sweater and a denim jacket give you options for layering depending on the daily temperature. If I was concerned about wet weather, I would swap the denim jacket for a waxed cotton jacket like this one from Barbour.

As a woman in her 30s, I can’t believe I’m highlighting clothes from Abercrombie & Fitch, but I own both of these pairs of denim and they are ahh-mazing. Super stretchy and high-waisted = on-trend, flattering, and comfortable. You could also swap out the dark rinse jeans in favor of a pair of denim cutoffs.

Packing Light in Europe

I like packing dresses because they work for day-to-night and represent a full day’s outfit. Dresses are also great for warmer weather climates like Spain and this red dress is perfect for any restaurants that require polished attire. (I may need to pick it up myself for Maui and Madrid!)

As for footwear, for a trip to Europe in the summer, and with only a backpack, I’d limit myself to just two pairs of shoes: comfortable sneakers like these New Balances and a pair of Birkenstocks. If you really wanted to, you could also pack a pair of ballet flats – these Tieks fold into themselves for easy packing. I’d also recommend traveling with a foldable tote bag, like a Longchamp Le Pliage for extra space and easy transport of toiletries, a cross-body bag, and any souvenirs.

Packing Light in Europe

The ultimate trick to packing light, besides careful planning, is to wear your heaviest items on the plane. This keeps you comfortable temperature-wise and it frees up space in your luggage. With these items, I would layer the denim jacket over the cashmere sweater and a t-shirt. Since sneakers are bulky, I’d keep those out of my luggage and wear them on the flight, too. These jeans are ridiculously comfortable thanks to a heavy dose of Spandex so they’ll be comfortable even during an overnight flight.

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