There are a few items that I never leave home without, whether I’m travelling as a passenger going on holidays, or as operating crew. Here is my list of fool-proof must haves for anyone who has a bad case of wanderlust!
1. Eucalyptus Inhaler
The aircraft air can be so unbearably dry, particularly if you are travelling on a long haul flight, the lack of moisture can really affect your sinuses. On some long flights, crew have even been known to be subject to the odd nosebleed, due to the air pressure and recycled air in the cabin. The way that I combat this factor is to carry a Eucalyptus Inhaler (or two, one in my cabin bag and one in my large suitcase) and discreetly (away from curious customers) inhale the warming scent, as it clears your airways, and the smell is also much more pleasant than some of the unfortunate odours in the cabin! They are so cheap, and much easier to carry than eucalyptus oil, due to the fact that most oils are larger than the approved 50mL size, and tend to leak out into all of your lovely clothes/books/ food shopping!
2. Posh Silk Eyeshades
I know that most airlines give you a kit bag full of amenities on long flights…but they eye masks can be so scratchy and uncomfortable (in economy class anyway), and it’s not something I like to put on the delicate skin around my eyes, particularly when wearing makeup whilst flying. There is already so much stuff on my face, I don’t need wrinkles added into the mix! My favourite sleep mask is an oldie but a goodie, much like this Silk sleep mask. It is soft, blocks out light and the dark colour encourages you to keep your eyes closed and relax! Another helpful tip is to put a few drops of Eucalyptus Oil on the part that sits above your nose (at home) to ensure your sinuses stay clear whilst you dream away.
3. A BPA Free Water Bottle
My favourite flight- friendly water bottle was a gift, from the Ritz Carlton in LA. It’s a Turquoise “Dive” coloured BKR that is easy to spot and nice to look at! Yours doesn’t have to be quite as extravagant, but a glass water bottle is the best way to keep your water fresh and without the added hormone/ chemical risk from reusing a regular plastic bottle, and the water doesn’t taste metallic. I recommend also having a straw handy, so as not to mess up lipstick whilst you’re at work (and drinking from the bottle is “frowned upon”), and also because it looks nicer.
4. Face Mask
Warning: confession ahead! On super long flights with a long rest period (3-3.5 hours), I tend to wipe most of my make up off with some cleansing facial wipes (especially the shock of bright crimson lipstick!), and then apply a mask to hydrate my skin(and ensure that I wake up looking fresh, and not like I have just come from an after after party on Sheikh Zayed Road!). The same goes for travelling as a passenger. Ask James. I have an acceptable amount of make up on for checking in/ getting to the airport, just enough to make me look human and avoid the dreaded “are you sick?” or “are you sad today?” firing line. No I am not sick, or hungover, or depressed, I simply don’t have 7 layers of cake face make up on, like when I am at work!
So once we have boarded and I am getting comfortable, I will wipe off my face, pop on my hydration mask, cover my eyes in the luxury of a silk eyeshade and try to get some sleep! My favourite mask is the Image Vital C mask, available online or from selected salons. I went through 3 tubes in just over a year of continuous flying! A very cost effective and worthwhile buy…trust me, your skin will love you for it! You can also pop it on in the shower whilst you do other things (like wait for your hair mask to sink in), or wear it to bed! Just remember to rinse off once you wake up to avoid feeling too oily 😉
5. Decent Pair of Headphones & Converter
This is more of a travelling as a passenger item…obviously in uniform, you have to wear discreet headphones, only on the crew bus and not whilst a colleague is trying to talk to you…but when you’re on holidays you can do whatever you wish. I have these awesome headphones that were an early Christmas present before I moved away…they just happen to be white leather and rose gold (my favourite colour/ outfit combo) and they are by the brand Frends and they’re called TAYLOR! They go with every outfit (and are not totally noise cancelling… I like to be situationally aware even as a passenger). They block out most of the annoying aircraft sounds and best of all? They don’t hurt my head or ears if I wear them with my reading glasses. Perfect! Also, to ensure that the sound comes out of BOTH earpieces, I carry a little airline adapter in my headphones case, like this, so my both my eardrums are equally as damaged when I have Taylor Swift or similar blaring out of my IFE (In Flight Entertainment) system 😉 Such a handy gadget, as many airlines have double socket holes and, let’s face it, who can deal with watching a movie with one ear for 14 hours?! Most certainly not me!
6. A Nice, Non- Hotel Issue Pen
The universal question every crew member dreads at Top of Descent: “Can I borrow a pen?”. This is when I had to always bite my tongue. In my head “Of course you may have a pen, now that you are awake, we are literally about to land and you have had more than 13 hours to fill out a landing card!” *cue quickly running to the galley to get an airline pen and shove it in their hands before securing and sitting down* Or worst case scenario, giving away my beloved pink filigree pen from our Auckland hotel (possibly the highlight of that trip, you crew know what I mean ;). So, when I travel normally, I bring my own pen 99.9% of the time, and I make sure that it is pretty and heavy and a little more expensive, so that I don’t forget it and know when I have it in my document folder. My favourite was a pretty polka dot birthday gift I received in Canada. You can never go wrong with a Kate Spade!
7. A Pretty Thought Catcher
Better known as a journal. Whether or not you love to write, it’s a good habit to have something on you where you can just jot down passing thoughts, dreams, addresses, phone numbers, recipes, reference numbers or even stick in a few photos to have a makeshift travel journal. It doesn’t have to be huge, but it makes as an original and portable keepsake to keep souvenirs of your adventures in! I am currently using a leather bound beauty that I picked up on my travels. In saying this, Kate Spade strikes again and I’m lusting over the endless colour and texture combinations (not to mention sizes) of her notebooks and journals!
8. A Good Book
The use of the word “good” here is a pretty loose interpretation. I seem to have a set type of book that I read (namely Chick Lit) and that is about it, apart from popular new releases such as Gone Girl, American Sniper (which I am yet to begin),The Fault in Our Stars. My favourite flying books (to read in the CRC, on layovers, during the flight as a passenger) are:
Leaving Time- Jodi Piccoult (a good read with a surprising twist at the end)
Anything by Jojo Moyes- Partcularly, The One Plus One, The Girl You Left Behind, Me Before You, The Last Letter From Your Lover…her writing is addictive to me and I could devour her novels in a single sector from DXB-PER (Dubai to Perth!)
Also anything by Danielle Steele, such as Betrayal…call it my guilty pleasure, but I just love the no-nonsense way she writes. Her work is escapism at its very best!
Of course there are all the classics if you want something with a bit more substance 😉
This is my first “advice” post in this style. I’ve often had questions from friends, other crew, passengers…basically lots of different people asking what I take with me and why. As well as writing about being crew, I’d like this blog to evolve into a travel feature,(which obviously goes had in hand with flying as crew) so that it is accessible to many different audiences rather than just wannabe Cabin Crew!
Feel free to share your travel tips with me too, you can never be too prepared to explore the world 😉 x