Thursday, August 7, 2014

My Long Haul Flight Essentials by Gail Carriger

Right now I'm in England, Fashionable Reader. This blog post will be up here for the duration, if you're new to Retro Rack please be aware that normally I update 2-3 times a week.

screen cap Austenland (2013)

I travel a great deal as an author, Fashionable Reader, but not so many long hauls as when I was an archaeologist. Then it was often long flights to far away places for long periods of time, which meant: checked luggage. These days it's shorter hauls for just a weekend or so, which means carry on. However, I do end up going over night to foriegn shores at least once a year or so. And next year it's that big flight down to New Zealand. Also, I tend to have to check luggage for big steampunk events, too much clothing. For these flights I have a whole different approach than regular flights.

First of all, I never travel with a backpack. I understand the freedom of movement, the health of the spine, and all the arguments connected with carrying weight on one's back. But: I hate them. I am constantly being hit in the head by people who are not aware of their backpack, particularly in the isle on planes, particularly large males. I find them aesthetically unsightly, and they mess with the fall of clothing.

Instead, for an overnight flight I carry a tote and a very small rollie.

Anything I need during the flight goes in this tote under the seat in front of me.

Anything I may need on the ground immediately after landing, plus all my main safeties in case checked luggage gets lost, goes in this rolly and in the overhead.

I modified one of the outer pockets of the tote to be a handle sleeve, so I can pop it on the rollie. Both items fit under the seat or in the overhead, but I design my travel around the tote being the reachable one.

Onboard Beauty

First of all, I hoard samples. Whenever offered a beauty sample I always think in terms of what I want on a plane, especially if I am stuck sleeping in my seat. Some online vendors like Sephora often give samples with orders.


The tiny envelope packets of goo are so small and so little that, so far, TSA has never even noticed I have the kit with me, which means I don't have to pull it out during security. Plus this allows me to pack my kit so small in can fit in the seat back or some other easily assessable zone.

It's a little bit smaller than my open hand

So what do I actually pack?

For when my checked luggage goes missing:
Body scrub, makeup removed, shampoo & conditioner

Most hotels provide toiletries... in the USA. Not so overseas. Also, I am never certain if I will like the smell of the hotel product (I've started to keep a list of the chain hotels beauty lines and whether I like them. Hyatt, for example = yech.) 

So, on the assumption that my checked luggage will find me in less than two days, or I will find a drugstore, I pack some product to fill in the break in case I need it on landing.

Perfume, and perfume oil, eye cream, sin screen

Vital necessities:

I buy these two wipes in bulk. I use the Basis as a makeup remover and/or cleanser and the other is a mild toner

These are things I know I will use on the plane. So that I can take care of my skin in the extreme environment of recycled air.

Moisturizer: hand, face, body

Baby toothbrush, floss, toothpaste, nail file, bobby pin

Comb mirror combo

Just because: 

Single use wet ones for when I spill my food inevitably

I have a small collection of items that I just find I always need on planes. These are often also in my purse.

Chapstick, pen, zit sapper, eye drops, earplugs & pain killers

What's missing?

Tiny deodorant. I haven't found one that's really small that I like, so I tend to pack my regular travel roll-on separately instead.

Sleeping Sitting Up

I know, it's awful. I have a sleep kit that I take with me to hotels, it also comes on the plane with me. It includes more earplugs and painkillers (I'm paranoid), sleep mask, little warm fluffy travel socks, and prescription sleep aid. Before you jump on me, I have a non-addictive personality and I fill my prescription for my 10 pills once every three years, at most. So I think I'm doing OK. I only use them when flying overnight, and occasionally on the ground in alternative time zones to cope with jet lag when I have business right away.

I also travel with a silk camping sleep-sack. It's remarkably warm and I can climb into it comfortably and buckle the seat belt over top. It's not restrictive, and serves double duty as a big scarf, and folds up as small as a tiny travel umbrella with less weight. Since reading an article about how rarely airlines wash blankets, I have become even more attached to this baby.

Memory foam neck pillow. This is a hard choice because it takes up a lot of space but is so vastly superior to the blow up kind that I make the sacrifice. Mine comes with a removable sleeve to wash easily.

Other Things I Do Not Check

  • Prescription medication
  • Any clothing items necessary after landing depending on weather predictions i.e. hat, gloves, scarf, raincoat, umbrella
  • Food & snacks
  • Various kits: emergency repair, convention, and tea
  • Itinerary and travel documentation
  • Packing check list (I keep a running file on Evernote as well)
  • Reading material
  • Phone and associated charging necessities
  • Breath mints & toothpicks
  • One event outfit: including a vintage style bra and high heels
  • Extra socks and undies
  • Makeup
  • Jewelry
  • Anything I would be heartbroken if lost (like corsets)
  • Self filtering water bottle (filled after TSA)
  • My purse, wallet, etc.
  • All funds (never check money)
  • Sun glasses & spare regular glasses
  • A few zip-loc bags: they just always seem to come in handy
  • Tissues
  • Collapsible mini tote

Dressing for Travel

It may fascinate you to learn that I do not, in fact, travel in retro dresses with full makeup. Sorry to shatter any illusions. Instead I am perennially looking for the perfect pair of breathable slacks. I want them to look business, but be comfortable enough to sleep in, not too hot or too cold, wrinkle free, with full pockets both front and back, hemmed for flats (not heels), boots also, easy to button/zip. Needless to say, it is an endless hunt. Right now, I have a black pair of light weight ruched cotton that fits my profile but is a little too trendy and a grey pair that's almost there but kinda boring. What can I say, I like the hunt.

This Chart Tells You Exactly How Much Underwear You Should Pack.

For tops I choose something I can wear with a comfortable bra, that's darker in color, cotton, and short sleeved. I pair that with a cardigan, these days my long cashmere grey one. I also have whatever jacket is my main for that trip in the overhead just in case, and a scarf in the tote under my seat.

I'm usually wearing boots of some kind, unless it's mid summer and a beach location, because they are my bulkiest shoe, zipper easy to get on and off, and (most importantly) require socks. These days as they make you take your shoes off at TSA I can't imagine not wearing socks! Gross.

Final Precaution

I try to remember to photograph my checked luggage. This comes off as paranoid but my checked luggage has gone missing almost 50% of my travel. It's one of my bad luck things. I find if I snap a picture, that works best to show the peeps at the other end when it doesn't show up.

You don't have to go with my choices: Wish wish has a different selection for travel. 

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. Love the idea of the silk sleep sack - somehow I'd never heard of them! Sounds fantastic. :)

    Also support taking a costume in carry on - I've heard a horror story of a women's barbershop chorus who had people sewing through the night after a good proportion of their sequiny costumes went astray on the way to a convention.


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