I’m traveling home to Boston for the Thanksgiving holiday and post-holiday festivities (read: sleeping on my face while complaining that I ate too many slices of pie, claiming it is too cold outside to leave the house, etc.)
Then I’m flying to L.A., then back to Boston, then out to the Caribbean for a vacation with my family, then back to Florida, then to Panama.
I am basically a flight attendant, but without the cute kick-pleat skirt and the massive amounts of irradiation.
(Let’s get this out of the way before it becomes a problem: I am aware of my super blessed, lucky-as-shit existence and the fact that I get to travel awesome places and eat many foreign meats. I’m incredibly thankful and it’s not permanent so I take it while it’s here. I’m present in my moment. Don’t worry, this is not the blog of a haughty rich person. I WISH.)
SO: My current life has arranged itself as such that get to fly places a lot. And I often arrive at my destination much faster than I would have if I’d taken, say, an oxen or tricycle. So yes, flying is technically great. It’s a triumph of mankind and it means I get to arrive at very dope places for adventures and revelry or whatever.
But flying a lot is, in and of itself, mostly bad. I AM NOT COMPLAINING JUST BEAR WITH ME FOR A SECOND. PUT DOWN YOUR ROTTEN FRUIT.
First of all, flying is fucking hell on your skin. And of course — big surprise coming, get ready for it — I struggle to condense my toiletries into one tiny ziplock bag. I’m one taser zap away from a strip search when TSA starts getting on my case as to whether my weird body butter is a cream or a liquid and I’m all DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT MAKING ME THROW THIS OUT IT IS FRENCH AND EXPENSIVE AND IT SMELLS LIKE MERMAIDS, I WILL EAT IT BEFORE YOU MAKE ME LEAVE IT BEHIND.
I am always dressed inappropriately for the too-hot or too-cold plane cabin because I flat out REFUSE to be one of those chicks who wears sweatpants and carries a pillow for a three hour domestic flight. (To those chicks: Calm down, okay? You’re just going to be sitting down for three hours. Keep your bra on. This isn’t hypersleep.)
And I usually get seated next to the person who grows garlic and raises wildebeest for a living. Or the raving, closetalker missionary who is deeply concerned about my immortal soul. Or in that horrible zone of the plane that always, always, for the entire flight, smells like a cross between egg rolls and farts.
Some kid kicks my seat the whole way. I get thrown up on. My feet get stepped on. I sit on gum. Something punctured a waterbottle in the overhead compartment and it’s leaking directly onto my head. I’m seated in the middle seat next to the bathroom and everyone onboard ate Indian food for lunch.
But you know what? I expect these things. They are part of the privilege of zooming around in the air like a fucking miracle, arriving in places where the timezone dictates you’ve actually travelled back in time to get there like something out of a Philip K Dick novel….I mean, come on. Flying is crazy. We live in the future. We are an episode of the Jetsons.
But the one given about flying that I WILL NOT accept as part of the miraculous package is that when I arrive somewhere I have to look like I travelled there on the bottom of someone else’s shoe, with my face simultaneously greasy and dry and my hair looking flat and pathetic. I do not accept this. I want to arrive places looking beautiful and so unreasonably vibrant and fresh that people assume I am famous in Korea.
I have amassed some tools to help with this.
Below, find Maxine’s 5 Must-haves for Any Long Flight (or short flight where someone who matters will pick you up at the airport)
1. Prepare your hair like you’re going to sleep the night before the school play. By which I mean, braid that shit (loosely or tightly, depending on your hair texture) and gently mist it with some water (scented with essential oils if you want to be fancy and treat your seatmate to some nice inflight aromatherapy) before you leave. Right before you land, unbraid it, tousle like you’re being filmed in slow motion and maybe sprinkle some travel-sized hair powder on your roots if you had to wake up HELLA early and didn’t have time to shower. (Lulu Organics makes some nicely scented natural ones. I also like Ojon’s little one.) If you have straightish hair, this also works with any sort of beach hair spray, like this one. If you have curly/frizzy hair, I like to work some of this through while my hair is still damp and pre-braided. Get creative.
2. Turn your tiny square of airspace into a mini-spa. Spa is a frame of mind, okay? Go ahead. Cross-stitch that shit and frame it. Hang it on your cubicle wall. SPA IS A FRAME OF MIND. That means do what you need to do to take yourself out of the air (not literally, you would die) and into a thatched room on the beach in Bali or a birch wood sweat lodge in Sweden…whatever, your spa place is your spa place. But treat yourself nicely. Use this time to catch up on all the pampering you haven’t had time to do. I have literally applied face masks on overnight flights. I like to glob some LacHydrin onto my feet, throw some socks on over those puppies and spend the rest of the flight letting my heels take on the texture of whipped cream.
Get to work on yourself! Apply a dense, softly scented moisturizing lotion to your hands, décolletage, elbows and feet. (I love this one, this one and this one.) Spritz your face with a gentle toning or balancing mist (Jurlique makes some excellent options) and use the flight to apply a really dense conditioning treatment for your lips and under-eye area. (I use La Mer because I think I am an actual celebrity. Which brings us to….)
3. Pretend you are Gwyneth Paltrow.* This is the most important one. This means: treat traveling like it’s an exhausting but necessary part of your breathtaking, ultra-fab life. Treat this time like you are a member of an elite, super-special class of über humans who do not normally interact with everyday nobodies. Treat your time in the sky as an extension of your five-star time on land. Wrap yourself in a supersoft pashmina. Refuse to take off your sunglasses. Wear large, noise-cancelling headphones (they don’t even have to be plugged into anything– you’re just signaling the rest of the world that they are not to speak to you.) Drink only water, no drying alcohol or sugary sodas. You’re GWYNETH FREAKING PALTROW, people, you can’t be putting that shit into your body!
Pull the shade down. Ignore every idiot who tries to talk to you about their hedge fund. Read British Vogue. Bring your own raw snacks onboard and pity the fools who have to order the Mrs. Fields cookie. Bring a notebook and spend the flight writing down things that are important to say to your celebrity friends. Say no to autographs. Say yes to oversized cashmere. Be a first class icon who is making the best of it in coach. Be humble and silent and kind of austere. Be a boss bitch. Just take care of YOU, only for those few hours that you’re flying “you” is actually a millionaire lifestyle brand. It is okay to tell the smelly garlic and wildebeest farmer to leave you alone (kindly, if possible.) It is okay to tell the parents of the seat-kicking child that they need to reign in their demon spawn. Take out your lavender-scented eyemask, put in your earplugs, maybe take some Ativan if you’re down with that. YOU’RE GWYNETH FREAKING PALTROW, okay? You need your rest.
4. Make flying a DISCOVERY PARTY. Bring something delightful for all your senses. Something new you’ve never heard or read or applied to your elbows. Something exciting. Something that will take your mind off the fact that you are hurtling through the air at 30,000 feet in what is essentially a shiny silver death trap. I like to bring new music and a weird type of chocolate, the latter of which covers two of my senses (three if it feels weird in my mouth!) and helps me feel like I am having a special treat. If every flight you take is a guaranteed opportunity to experience something new and interesting, you will never find yourself rifling through the SkyMall catalogue thinking Yes, Yes I Do Need A Canine Genealogy Kit. Boredom is your enemy, here. Vanquish it before it has a chance to take root. In an emergency, give yourself a creative task: I will count every bald spot on this plane! I will DRAW every bald spot on this plane! With my eyes closed! On cocktail napkins! With eyeliner! Be specific.
5. If at all possible, do not check luggage. I learned this the hard way, when I was straight up not given a choice and found myself crying atop a giant pile of half-folded sun dresses, contemplating NOT GOING ON VACATION because I couldn’t just pick three goddamn sundresses to pack instead of ten. GROW UP, PUT AWAY SEVEN OF THOSE DRESSES, PAST SELF.
I fought it hard. I am a chronic over-packer; I bring backup rain boots. But I have learned that it is almost always, always, always worth it to just pack carry-on. It makes your whole airline experience a breeze, and it makes you more aware of what you actually need and don’t need. (Also, it gives you an excuse to be like OH SORRY I DIDN’T PACK A DRESS FOR THE OPERA, GUESS YOU’LL HAVE TO BUY ME ONE, I JUST HAPPENED TO HAVE LOOKED UP WHERE THE H&M IS IN VENICE.) Be smart. Pack enough undies, roll your clothes, only bring one pair of dark jeans, only bring one pair of boots, bring a spangly necklace and just make sure everything you DO bring is so fabulous looking that no one will notice you’ve already worn it 2x. Print out your boarding passes ahead of time and then stroll right past those crazy-long lines of sad families traveling to Disney World bringing a whole cartload of bags with them. (What the hell did you pack in there? Are you bringing like 15 more pairs of white sneakers?)
The truth is, no one is thinking about you or looking at you as much as you ever think they are (unless you are Gwyneth Paltrow, fine) so do yourself a favor and pack light, travel easier and consign yourself to re-wearing the same black tank top three times. No one will notice. Do not worry if the people around you are giving you weird looks because you’re applying this face mask while they are eating pretzels and watching Tower Heist. You are in the spa state of mind. Do not think about other people. You’re in a beach hut in Bali! There are no other people. You are a professional. You are discovering new music, enjoying new types of chocolate. You are sitting back with your head wrapped in a soft, woven scarf, listening to Bjork and smelling nice smells. Your hair is braided. Your elbows are creamed. You are relaxed. You are content. You are Gwyneth Freaking Paltrow. Enjoy your flight.
Soaring through the air with the softest of heels,
*may be substituted for: Beyonce, Posh Spice, Martha Stewart, Mariah Carey, J.Lo, or diva of equal worth.