Snippets of a travel blog.
Your trip is planned, your bags are packed, vacation starts tomorrow. Is there any better feeling in the world? But before you can sip a welcome drink at the hotel, you’ve got a long haul flight to take, and there's just one thing left to plan: what are going to wear on the plane?
I was eighteen and flying to Paris for my first trip to Europe when I encountered this dilemma for the first time. I wanted to be comfy and warm in transit but arrive looking chic and fabulous. One simply can't arrive in Paris wearing sweatpants. I think the French police might arrest you!
This was my first long-haul flight, but I knew airplanes are freezing, and after spending eight hours crammed into a tiny seat I would be wrinkled mess; clothes littered with pretzel crumbs and split orange juice. Or wine, depending if the Air France flight attendants were playing by the rules of the U.S. or their homeland...
I also knew overnight flights arrive early in the morning. So early that the hotel room wouldn't be ready for check-in. That meant no chance of a quick shower and change before I began exploring. That meant my first breakfast in some charming cafe in Paris where I could possibly lock eyes with a handsome French man across the room sipping a cafe and reading Baudelaire, and voila meet the love of my life, would happen in wrinkled, stained, plane clothes? Sacre Bleu!
So I came up with a genius idea that I still use when I travel today.
The Secret: I wear my travel outfit to the airport - warm, sensible, and comfortable. But in my wheeled carry-on is a outfit for arrival. Once we land at the airport (because I am a magician's assistant after all) I pop into the lounge and do a quick change.
This way, if the room won't be ready, or if we're not going right to the hotel, or I just want to go through customs in style - I'm set. This is also smart in case my luggage is lost (which has happened to me twice). I have a spare outfit to get me by.
So you need two outfits - one effortlessly chic, preferably on theme outfit for arrival, and one for the plane.
After years of traveling, I have developed the formula for the perfect long-haul travel outfit. Tested at least a hundred times, this look will get you to your destination looking wrinkle-free, comfortable, and classy.
1 - Comfortable Pants
My go-to is my black, Lululemon Skinny Groove pants. Leggings are stretchy and comfortable, they won’t get baggy or wrinkle after hours of flying, and paired with a sweater they look surprisingly fancy. Leggings also make your butt look way better than sweatpants. If you don't think it's acceptable to wear active wear in public, watch this video. If you're still not sold, any comfortable pants will do - just no pajamas, please.
2 - Cotton Tank
This is your base layer. I wear a cotton tank top in the unlikely event that the airport or plane is too warm. Or if the weather where I’m going to or coming from is hot. Cotton is breathable, soft, and won’t wrinkle. I love the tanks from Spiritual Gangster. Just be prepared to have a lot of people singing The Beatles to you if you pick this one. I know from experience.
3 - Cashmere Sweater
This is your top layer. Instead of a bulky jacket, I bring my favorite, oversized cashmere sweater. Cashmere is incredibly warm, cozy, and always looks sophisticated. I like to wear a pullover so there are no buttons or zippers that can become uncomfortable when I’m trying to sleep. Of course, any cozy sweater will do the trick, but if you have cashmere sweater already, it's the perfect top layer for flying. If you're going anywhere with cool weather, it will also come in handy on your trip.
If you're looking to buy one, I've found great deals at JCrew, and they have excellent, boxy cuts for a boyfriend-style sweater. You can even get it monogrammed. If initials are too preppy for your style, do something fun, like YAY, OMG, or OUI.
My top tip is NEVER bring a coat on the plane. Even if it’s cold on one or both ends of travel, I wear it to the airport, and then pop open my suitcase before checking it, and pack it right on top. I can get it out again upon arrival if I need it. It's not comfortable to wear it in-flight, and you don't want to be that person who takes up the whole overhead bin with your bulky coat. No one likes that person. And no one likes a wrinkled coat.
4 - Sneakers
I wear sneakers because they are comfortable, I don’t have to take them off to get through TSA Pre security, and then I won’t have the pack them so it leaves more room in my luggage. Also, some airports are massive, and if I have a connection I'm in good walking shoes. If you've ever had a connection at London Heathrow you know what I'm talking about! I usually wear my running shoes or my Stan Smiths. But choose whatever you want to bring for where you're going.
I always get on a long-haul flight freshly showered, with just-washed and styled hair. Again, since long-haul flights usually get you to your destination early in the morning before your hotel room is ready, you won't have access to a shower when you arrive. I style my hair and pin it into a loose top knot during the flight. When I arrive, I let it down and it still looks great.
I also always board a plane with a clean, moisturized face with no make up. If that sounds like lunacy to you, then try to minimize your make-up as much as possible. Honestly, no one knows you up in the air and your face will feel and look a lot better on the other side if you give it a chance to breath up in the air.
Right before I leave for the airport I wash my face and put on my night cream as if I were prepping for bed. I always pack my moisturizer in my carry-on so I can keep applying during the flight, and my make-up bag so I can put a bit on when we land once I've changed into my arrival outfit.
By the time you arrive, I promise you'll have glowing skin, shiny hair, and a great outfit when you head to that first breakfast in Paris where you'll probably find your dream man. Or at least find an amazing croissant. And really, who can say which is better?
I had a lengthy list of food to eat in Hong Kong and only 24 hours to do it. But thankfully my husband and his never-ending appetite for Asian food was up to the task. Hong Kong is perhaps most known for food that not only tastes incredible, but is immensely photogenic. Only here can your bao bun look like whoa, your dim sum be genuinely cuter than you are, and desserts from street vendors be complete works of art.
With just a short amount of time, I was off to eat some classic Hong Kong foods that I've never had before, and seeking the most Instagrammable dishes out there.
My first stop of the day was at Little Bao
This tiny bao-bun kitchen is on top of a hill so steep you’ll more than earn your lunch walking to it. Right by PMQ and Hollywood Road, this neighborhood is the place to go for cool shopping and awesome foodie finds. We ducked into Little Bao around 12, right before a big rush and scored a teeny table on the wall.
We started off with the sesame caesar: Indian lettuce, fried dace, black beans, and panko crumbs eaten the Asian way: with chopsticks.
Disclaimer: we did not plan to get this. I am not the girl who, with one day in Hong Kong, orders a salad! But when the person next to me got their order, I eyed our waiter and said, "I'll have what he's having!"
It arrived as a pile of tasty greens with just the right ratio of lettuce to toppings. The combination of flavors and textures is what made this special: flaky, crunchy, fishy (in a good way). Josh and I were fighting over salad leaves for the first time ever.
For our buns, I wanted to satisfy the carnivore and vegan in me. I am a woman of extremes. We planned to go halvsies on one classic pork belly, and one "sloppy chan," This is one of my favorite things to do, unless I really like one dish better than the other and then I try to claim it as my own. Thankfully, that didn't happen here.
Slow-braised pork belly, leek & shiso red onion salad, sesame dressing, hoisin ketchup
Sloppy Chan - Taiwanese braised shiitake tempeh, truffle mayo, sweet pickled daikon, fried shallot. This was like a crazy delicious asian sloppy joe.
These buns were everything a bao bun should be: hot, fluffy bun, meat/temph well seasoned, spicy sauces holding it all together, and various pickled accouterments. It was a long wait for our two little buns to come out of the kitchen, so you know each and every bun is being made with a sincere amount of TLC - as all buns should.
A note on portion control: I could have easily eaten those two buns alone, but since we had a big day of food ahead I made due with my 1/2 of each and the salad.
After a few hours of walking and shopping, we made our way to our dim sum lunch at Yum Cha.
In case you've been living under a rock or in the suburbs - dim sum is a style of Chinese cuisine prepared as small bite-sized portions of food served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. It's the Chinese answer to afternoon tea, and immensely popular.
I did a lot of research on where to go for my first, proper dim sum and eventually decided on Yum Cha because they specialize in "a playful twist on traditional Chinese cuisine." It was the rare time I wasn't looking for a fancy, Ritz Carlton experience but rather wanted something playful I could Instagram like crazy. When I saw they served pineapple puffs shaped like birds inside mini birdcages, my search was over.
Our order revolved around the cutest-looking things on the menu: the aforementioned pineapple bird puffs, green tea custard buns, and piggy pork buns. To round out the meal, we added some scallion pancakes and steamed veggie dumplings.
These little green monsters look so cute and friendly, but take a bite and watch them puke matcha
I should have found this disgusting, but in the 5 year old kid in me couldn't get enough!
Overall, the food at Yum Cha was pretty average tasting, which I foresaw, but I just couldn't pass up dim sum shaped like little green minions. The scallion pancakes, by far the least photo-worthy dish, was by far the most tasty. So if it's the tastiest dim sum you're seeking - this may not be the place for you. But if you're dining with kids or just happen to be a kid at heart like me, Yum Cha would be hard to beat in terms of dim sum fun.
Finally, the most important meal of the day - dessert. I ate several sweets while in Hong Kong, but the most Insta-worthy was my egg waffle cone from Eat With Me, complete with a hand-crafted whip cream flower (swoon).
These egg waffles have just started to become big in New York City, where I live on the rare week I'm not traveling. But I wanted to try one at the source first, so I sought out Eat With Me and watched them make their magic.
The egg waffle cone was made to order out of a typical waffle-looking batter. I sat there, eyes bulging as the waffle-iron hissed and smoked for what seemed like hours until my browned waffle came out, cooled, and got wrapped up into a fluffy cone. I was in a rare fruit mood so I went with a strawberry ice cream, sprinkles, and whip cream topping. The chewiness of the cone makes this dessert unique, and the hot cone against the cold ice cream makes for an outside-the-box ice cream cone experience.
If you have the time to sit in and enjoy a dessert, there were some elaborate sundaes and creations to be had here! This is a spot for a photo-opp loving foodie to keep coming back to.
I fell in love with traveling nearly ten years ago on my first trip to Paris. It was my first time in a different country. Eight years and thousands of airline miles later, I just got back from my 50th!
Now that I'm married (!) I travel mostly with my husband. But before we said "I Do," I took a lot of trips on my own. I had a long list of places I wanted to see while I was studying and living abroad, so on my weekends I booked train tickets, rode buses, and took Easy Jet all over Europe. I didn’t always have someone to travel with; but I didn't let that stop me. There were sights to see, museums to visit, cones of gelato to eat! I decided I would much rather go alone than not at all. After a few trips, I quickly realized that traveling solo had some serious perks, and I began to love it.
So whether you're dying to go to Machu Piccu but can't find someone to go with you, or you're thinking of taking a gap year, or you just need some you time - stop worrying, book the flight and go! Because I know from experience that solo travel is awesome, and here's why.
Planning a trip with other people can be a real challenge. Just to coordinate dates, budgets, and decide on a location together can be a lot of work and involve some compromise. When you travel alone, you and only you are in complete control of everything: the location, the schedule, the hotel, the budget, the restaurants, even what time to begin and end the day. Traveling with someone else means taking their desires into consideration and making comprises - and that affects your trip. When you’re alone you can do exactly what you want when you want. You’ll never be forced to wake up at 7am if you’d rather sleep in till 11, or disagree over what museum to visit, or whether to walk or take a taxi. Your meals for the day can consist of a nutella crepe and three ice cream cones and no one will judge you. Doing exactly what you want, how you want, when you want is a sure way to love every second of your trip, and never feel like you had to sacrifice something.
How often do you bring a book on holiday and never touch it? Or have all intentions of keeping a travel journal but struggle to find time to make a single entry? Traveling alone gives you the time to read, write, and reflect with no one to distract you. One of my greatest fears when I started traveling alone was that I would get bored with no one to talk to, but I found immersing myself in a book and keeping a journal with me to write as I experienced things during the day was so fulfilling. With so much time to myself, I really focused on the place I was and soaked every minute of it in. Thanks to my solo trips, I have a stack of hand-written travel journals and photos that are everlasting memories.
Traveling alone means doing everything for yourself. You have to do all the talking, negotiating, and planning. Without someone to share responsibilities and depend upon, you have to learn how to navigate the place you are, make decisions, and be bold. And once you do, it's incredibly rewarding and empowering! After one or two solo trips, my confidence had skyrocketed. I would get to a place, grab a map, and think "I got this!" I got over my fear of asking strangers for directions, dining solo, and found I became very friendly with hotel staff and locals. Now when I travel, I’m not afraid of, or intimidated by anything. When you look back on an incredible day spent abroad and realize you did it all yourself, you feel like Travel Spice. Especially if you were walking around all day in platform sneakers.
Being from a family of seven, I know from experience that the larger the group, the slower it moves. If you travel with others, someone will always be slowing you down. You have to wait to start your day until everyone is ready. You have to stop when someone needs a rest, or a drink, or needs to find a bathroom, or wants to go into a shop. While these stops are just 5 minutes here, 2 minutes there - they add up by the end of a trip. When you travel alone you go at your pace, however fast or slow that is. Being on your own is way more efficient; you’ll find you can accomplish so much in one day. You also feel no guilt about holding someone else up. If you want to go into absolutely every jewelry store in the village of Oia accumulating dainty gold bracelets, you won't have a bored husband trying to hurry you along, interfering with your arm candy goals. Think about it.
Just because you get along with someone at home does not mean you will get along on vacation. Traveling with someone, particularly for the first time, you might encounter some real problems. Having a disagreement, clashing ideas, or becoming irritated with your travel companion for one reason or another is all too real. When you're on vacation with someone it is 24/7 time together. It's easy to get frustrated after a few days. I believe you don’t really know someone until you’ve traveled with them. So if you’re worried about picking a companion that you know would travel well with, then choose to take a trip with the person you know better than anyone - yourself.