Prior to 2011, I had never been on a plane, and that was fine by me. My irrational fear of heights coupled with documentaries about airline disasters had cemented my distaste for the idea. But after my first flight, for a wedding, I realized two things: it wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought (just a little scary), and it was way faster than trying to drive everywhere for the rest of my life.
I love to travel, to meet new people and see new things. And while I’ve made my peace with airplanes, there is still that sad thought in the back of my mind. When did air travel get so... boring?
(For the record, stylish flight attendants still exist. I saw a crew from a Chinese airline disembark once and there was one lady in a cape. A red cape. It was incredible.)
I know, I know: security back then was basically nonexistent, you had a greater chance of death or injury, and it wasn’t affordable. So there have been a lot of improvements.
In any case, now the burden falls on the passengers to make air travel a little more upscale, glamorous, and fun. Even if you’re in coach next to a crying baby, you can still look presentable and stylish. Here are a few tips.
1) Layer, layer, layer.
Those blankets onboard the plane? You don’t want to know where they’ve been. Your best bet is to layer beforehand. This is my flying uniform for the moment:
Wrinkle-resistant travel pants with lots of pockets, detailed blouse, a linen jacket, and ballet flats.
Skip any unnecessary accessories to make security easier, so you can focus on unpacking your laptop and not trying to undo your belt and untie your sneakers.
Remember, it will get colder at high altitudes, so throw a pair of socks in your purse just in case.
2) Think ahead.
When you’re traveling to a place with a very hot or cold climate as opposed to where you start, it pays to think ahead. My solution is a knee-length jersey dress that I can wear tights with, plus a sweater and a waterproof trench.
When we get to the airport and it has jumped from 40 degrees to 80, I can just go in the ladies room and take off the tights. (Or vice versa, depending on your destination.) If you’re going to a cold climate, a small cloche hat or scarf can be rolled up in your bag easily, too.
Which leads me to...
3) Your bag is your new best friend.
I try not to carry around a huge purse anymore. It’s bad for my back, and it’s just a pain to lug around. But when I fly, I make sure that I bring a satchel style bag to fit all of my odds and ends.
I have a cute little umbrella that I got at Target for $3, in their dollar section. It folds down to be about 9 inches long so it fits fine in the bottom of my purse, and it’s saved me on numerous occasions. (I also always pack a few tea bags, because a cup of tea on a budget airline = $4, while a cup of hot water = free. #LiveCheapOrDie.)
If you’re hitting a red eye, throw a travel toothbrush and paste in there, too; your seat-mate will appreciate it.
4) Go easy on the makeup.
There’s really nothing worse than being stuck somewhere without being able to touch up your foundation or powder, all the while feeling it turn into an oil slick. Keep the makeup simple. Nice brows, mascara, red lips, concealer. So I look less like a zombie on layovers, I’ve been using a bit of red lipstick as blush, applied very lightly, which is another way to make the tools at your disposal go further.
5) Distract yourself.
Flying got easier, but I still get freaked out if there’s bad weather or turbulence. I pack my iPod (2007, does that count as vintage yet?) and load up my phone with puzzle games, movies, and podcasts. (I also throw in a good pair of Bluetooth headphones, since earbuds do nothing to drown out the sound of the engines.)
Before the flight, I especially like the Headspace app. It’s guided meditation for different circumstances, and their series for a fear of flying really helps me to calm down before boarding.
So hose are a few things that help me relax as I am strapped into in a tin can that’s hurtling above the ground at 500 miles an hour. (Did I mention a cocktail? Those help, too.)