Friday, March 30, 2012

Travel Tips: What Would Victoria Beckham Pack?

HALLIE EPHRON: I'm just back from a 10-day trip to the back of beyond (Trinidad). No email. No Internet. No phone, mobile or otherwise. And just a smallish backpack for luggage.

As long as I don't have to bring a coat, snow boots, and a ball gown, I'm great at traveling light. I never EVER check a bag so it can't get lost, and so I can fly standby if I need to or offer to give up my seat for those big bucks (though I have never managed to actually score.)

I bring wash-and-wear that's quick-dry, along with a packet of powdered detergent. Never travel without nuts or trail mix, because you never know when the airline will run out of Snack Packs or when your plane will arrive for a layover at the same time as the airport restaurants shut down.

But invariably after 10 hours in the air and waiting around in airports, my (ahem) digestive system shuts down, and then it's a few days before "things" start moving again.

So I'm looking for tips about how to keep the digestive system in motion when you're on the move. What to eat? What not to eat? What to take? Exercises en route? And any other tips for arriving a) refreshed, b) richer, or c) "regular."

And how do you manage to pack something that looks classy and fancy and still travel light?

RHYS BOWEN: We went around the Australian Outback with one small suitcase for three weeks. Secret -- color coordination, T shirts, pants, one khaki skirt, one pair shorts. Buy underpants and socks that can be washed out in sink overnight.

When I travel on business I stick to black pants, a couple of good jackets, white tops and a couple of scarves.

My secret for staying healthy: drink plenty of water. When people think they have an upset stomach it's often simple dehydration. Water is also necessary to keep you "regular" Hallie. Never eat unpeeled fruit or salad in less advanced countries.

Things I always take with me: inflatable pillow for those long flights, flashlight in case hotel electricity goes out, change of underwear and toothbrush in carry-on in case bag goes to Bombay when I'm going to Barbados, mini clothes-pins, eye mask, ear plugs.

ROSEMARY HARRIS: I don't usually have many health issues when I travel although I do try to be mindful of them. Last month I flew to Dar es Salaam and since I knew I'd have so many hours on planes I bought a supposedly hypo-allergenic seat cover - seat, backrest, tray table. I used it once and felt like an idiot. I bring a baggie of vitamins and a bottle of Airborne chewables. Moisturize, drink water. Sometimes on trips when I know vegetables will be scarce, I bring a travel-sized bottle of olive oil. Changes everything.

As far as looking better than you feel - I like to fly in black yoga pants and a cami with a big sweater. Sunglasses, a big scarf and anything but sneakers. I don't know how fancy it is, but I convince myself it's what Victoria Beckham might be wearing.

Hmmm, a little dumb here, but what the heck do you do with the olive oil??

We never check a bag anymore either, though no one could pack as lightly as Hallie! And I did borrow the yoga pants idea from Ro last year when we went to Hungary on our bike trip. Unfortunately the look was spoiled because I had to wear my clodhopper hiking boots--too bulky to pack but I had to have them.

Oh Ro, wish we had a photo of you in that hypoallergenic seat and tray cover! My neighbor has me convinced to bring those little sani-wipes and wipe everything down before you get settled...

And about that other matter, Hallie, walk as much of the terminal as you can. I don't take the automated walkway unless the plane is late. Oh, and always pack a sandwich at home. The problem is I usually eat it before I get to the airport...

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Oh, I know, Lucy! Once I know the sandwich is there, I HAVE to eat it!

HALLIE: My favorite takealong: homemade fried chicken and an orange. It's no wonder I start each trip with grease spots. Which reminds me: SHOUT stain remover packets with those little towelettes. Indispensable.

Okay, I've just gotten the best advice ever from Rosemary and I'm taking notes. Olive oil? That advice could only come from a travel pro. And if there's anything I have A LOT of in my wardrobe it's black yoga pants. Also hate sneakers for travel, and not just because they look like you've given up, but because they are hard to take off and on during security. So I try to wear shoes that slip on and off.

Agree totally with Rhys on lots of water. And Emergence-C works great when you are insanely dehydrated. As far as traveling light? My husband would laugh his head off if I pretended to give anyone advice on that subject.

HANK: I have reformed so much from my old ways of overpacking!

I have a carry on suitcase.. And whatever I can fit into that, goes. Wear socks under my travel Uggs. Really ugly but warm comfy and can also be slippers. Travel shawl , black , doubles as blanket on plane and evening wrap. Water water water and I always have a bag of almonds. Almonds are always appropriate. I never drink on the plane. And I always eat breakfast-- egg whites are the best.

HALLIE: Now I know what to do with the olive oil. Sprinkle it on the egg whites!

DEBORAH CROMBIE: From Pappadeux Seafood restaurant, DFW Terminal A, en route to Orlando. Roll on size bag checked because I'm carrying my laptop, as always, in roll on backpack.

Travel musts: emergency meds, including immodium, naproxen, benedryl, and prescription anti nausea pills (many unpleasant experiences with overseas bugs an d no available doctor. And once in London my daughter had a bad allergic reaction to something she ate, so benedryl a staple.)

On plane, socks, blanket (since they no longer give them to you on domestic flights) and comfy sweater. Bottle of water. Earbuds or headphones.

Emergen-c is great rehydrator, I agree with Jan. I carry fish oil caps, fiber caps, and magnesium, but olive oil great idea too. And LOTS of water.

And now, bon voyage!

HALLIE: Let's hear it for water and olive oil!

So, Red Readers, what are your most cherished travel tips, and who do you want to look like when you're on the road?


  1. Always almonds, but also Dove minis. Have to have chocolate. Silicon ear plugs - never leave home without them. And the shawl. And walking the airport until it's time to board. Think about it - you're going to be sitting for the rest of the day. Hallie - what about bringing the old standby, prunes?

    I think you guys have already covered all bases! And I pretty much never look elegant so I don't worry about that issue. ;^)

    No, no, one more tip (if you dare): When I flew back and forth to Japan a couple of times in the 70s, I brought a couple of hash brownies. You eat one and presto, you're at your destination! Those were the quickest 14-hour flights I ever took. One time, though, I sat next to a virginal-looking older schoolteacher. I could hardly eat a brownie without offering her one, so I had to go consume it in the bathroom.

  2. Edith, that is a hilarious story. What an image - standing in the airplane john, observing yourself in the mirror as you snarf a hash brownie.

    Hallie, dried apricots are good for what was ailing you. As others have said, in addition to keeping some good fiber on board, hydration is the key. Even when we aren't traveling, it's easy to get dehydrated.

    The other thing I tuck into my travel bag is a cluch of decent teabags. Some airports have more than your basic Lipton, but it's nice to have a bag of your favorite brew on hand when there's nothing to do but wait.

  3. Yep, water. I carry an empty reusable water bottle with me through security (I drink the entire bottle on the way to the airport), and refill it in the terminal for the flight. Learned the hard way, after being stuck on the tarmac in Salt Lake City for four hours, in 95-degree heat and blazing sun, with no water, and nothing to eat.

    But the water makes an enormous difference to that icky little travel issue, Hallie.

    Edith, that is really funny. But you never know about those schoolteachers. It's best not to make assumptions about that virginal thing!

    Pashmina shawls are my other must-have. They're way more comfortable than those nasty little blanket things they have on the plane.

  4. Zut ALORS! Edith!! We're going to have to bail you out, what with the airports crawling with drug-sniffing dogs!

    Absolutely mints! How could I forget. And enough to share with your seat mate.

    Apricots! Much tastier than prunes. Writing it down...

  5. One of these days I'm going to type, "I am a robot, so there!" in the captcha....

    Seriously now, almonds, yes. I have some in my purse and in my suitcase.

    And Brenda, I try always to carry decent tea bags, but forgot this time... I can deal with basic Lipton just fine, or Royal Cup, which is what the hotel had this morning, but can't stand Bigelow teas. The other thing that drives me crazy is trying to make tea in hotel coffee makers. Impossible. Even if you pull out the filter part, your tea still tastes like mud...

  6. Edith, I meant to say how funny. Love your brownie story.

  7. Edith - you daredevil, weren't you just the tiniest bit worried that you'd get arrested at customs? Of course that was the seventies, but I still would have been listening to every sound on the plane and re-imaging the plot of every plane crash movie I'd ever seen.

    A nice Chai or Earl Grey for me, Brenda!

  8. What do you do with the olive oil? Ask an Italian girl! You take a swig if nature doesn't call, you use it on your face if you've forgotten moisturizer, on your hair if you've forgotten the Kiehl's, it's pretty good at taking off eye makeup and you can even use it on food.

  9. Actually, as I recall I wasn't worried, because I had eaten the hash by the time I arrived! And in those days leaving an airport was no sweat.

    I think I am going to start packing olive oil now, though.

  10. A roll of toilet paper--with the middle cardboard pulled out--and hand sanitizer made me a very popular woman when we were in southern China. The next most popular person had a roll of duct tape.

  11. Duct tape and toilet paper. Can't you just see those as pivotal clues in a murder investigation?

  12. Definitely duct tape for those exotic trips. I once used it to get splinters out of my knee.

  13. Hallie, that Shout stuff work? How?

    Edith, you're lucky you didn't become--what was that movie? Something Express.. . :-)

    Apricots! Great idea.

    And then RO, did people start sprinkling oregano on you?

  14. Shout reminds me: I always also carry a Tide to Go pen. It gets out anything (including olive oil stains, FYI).

    Duct tape was recommended to my middle daughter when she was on a 30-day NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) hike in Alaska. Only about a foot of it, wound around the handle of something or other. It came in handy when she had blisters from the new boots she was supposed to have broken in and didn't.

    Speaking of blisters, I also now carry the Band Aid Friction Block stick. Two years ago I went to Peru and Ecuador for two weeks, hiking two to three miles a day in new boots. Using the Friction Block stick I had zero blisters, despite having brand-new boots. It's tiny, but it's mighty, and very useful for trips.

  15. ...was that why all the Italian men started following me around with little jars of something??? Karen, does Tide to Go really work on olive oil?

    Midnight Express...harrowing true story...just watched it again. Also Brokedown Palace. We're glad you made it out!

  16. Band-Aid Friction Block stick... gotta get some of that. Because the #1 thing NOT to do on a trip is wear new shoes, which I invariably end up doing.

  17. Rosemary, yes. It works on everything I've ever tried it on so far. And it takes no room.

    The one tip I'd offer about the Tide pen, though, be sure to take a brand-new one on a trip. They do eventually dry out.

  18. This has been a very educational post. Olive oil, duct tape, Tide, Band Aid block stuff, yoga pants, and no running shoes because it means you've give up. Check!

    Edith, I am shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

  19. Edith's comment about hash brownies cracks me up. Love it! I'm all for drugs, but for me it would be in pill form. ZZZZs are good.

    I bring flax seed meal to help with digestion. Sprinkle it over the morning oatmeal...Or, in a pinch, I could stir it into some of the handy olive oil I'm now going to start bringing with me!

  20. Lisa, flaxseed meal only works if you also drink lots of water.

    Yeah, it all comes down to the H2O, doesn't it?

    By the way, I think captcha is just messing with me.

  21. How did I become anonymous. That's from Moi-Reine above.

  22. And now my comment has disappeared. OK... Reine

  23. Reine, et. al. - we had all kinds of blogger problems earlier today. For hours captcha wold NOT be satisfied no matter what we typed in the space. Apparently there are still gremlins about.

  24. I loved the article, so I'll try another comment!

    What a picture you've painted! Tray? Sani-Wipe-Downs? Travel Uggs? Hilarious!

    Things must have changed since the last time I flew. At Logan in Boston, for several years, we weren't allowed to bring any food or water into the waiting area. They did allow you to buy food and drink to carry on, within the designated area. I spent over $10 buying a small bag of nuts and an ordinary sports bottle of water. It's good to hear things have changed.

    Saving this comment just in case... !

  25. Apples and green tea seem to do the trick.
    Must be the fiber in the apples and the enzymes in the tea.

    I want to look like Angelina Jolie when I get off plans, but that's not going to happen. So instead I usually wear Juicy sweats, short boots and a blanket. I probably look asleep.

  26. Tried to get on earlier but I couldn't.

    Almonds/walnuts/Brazil nuts, tea bags, water bottle to fill once through security, Ricolah herbal cough drops, Tide pen (haven't tried the Shout wipes but I will now), alpaca lace or pashmina shawl(s), dried fruit, little moleskine notebook in purse with multiple pens, very comfortable black pants with pockets (most yoga pants don't have pockets), long comfy black T-shirt tunic.

    Glad to learn about olive oil (but how do you get it on the plane, Ro?) and Band Aid Friction Block!

    I hate flying anymore. Used to love it, but they've made it such a hassle! Car or train when I possibly can.

  27. Shizuka: You travel like I do. If I could get away with wearing bedroom slippers I would.

  28. I'm French: All black all the time and a scarf or 6 to spice things up.
    For long haul flights - I change on the plane into PJ's and slipper socks.
    Water, water, water, water, water. (which, BTW, if you are in Beijing, they don't seem to sell bottles of. But they had lots of vodka...)
    Never running shoes. Anne Klein has a fantastic collection of black slip ons that are great for travel (read: running through airports). And for foot swelling.
    Avoid plane food if you can, too much salt.
    Yoga. Beofre the flight, during the flight, and upon arrival asap. Helps with getting rid of jet lag and keeps things flowing - mind, body and spirit... Bon Voyage!

  29. Ilene Mattison-ShupnickMarch 30, 2012 at 2:17 PM

    I try to remember a roll of tie. We have carried all kinds of things home that needed a little reinforcing. Goes well with the duct tape. Also don't forget your favorite small tube pf hand lotion for the plane. You could use the olive oil, but then fellow flyers would be coming to you for a quick caesar salad!

  30. Ilene Mattison-ShupnickMarch 30, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    Sorry about that...a roll of twine.

  31. Roll of **twine** - that's exactly what we needed when we got off the plane at Logan and my husband's suitcase arrived in baggage claim in a big red plastic crate. It had exploded. Broken zipper.

    NEVER CHECK ANYTHING YOU CARE ABOUT. Fortunately he doesn't.

  32. Duct tape, definitely! double prescriptions with hard copy from doctor in case questioned, or need to ask doctor in another country to write a new one for you. this saved my bottom in france one summer when I lost my seizure meds. I signed my life away, and a pharmacist refilled my script from Boston for me.

  33. Just a quick note to let you know that I liked what I read. Cheers!
    machu picchu tours

  34. I can read above all post and every thing are just fantastic. Great tips which you share above and What an image standing in the air plane John, observing yourself in the mirror as you snarf a hash brownie.Awesome...

  35. Mmm.. good to be here in your article or post, whatever, I think I should also work hard for my own website like I see some good and updated working in your site. Desert Safari Deals