Tag Archives: travel

Pajama Game

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I just got back from Bella Italia and I think, in the not too distant future, the airlines will have to pull up right into passengers’ driveways, the way the Super Shuttle does when it picks you up to go to the airport for your flight.  Have you seen how people come dressed to the airport?  Clearly they’ve just rolled directly out of bed and into the “Departures” area.  Is it too much to expect that they change out of their pajamas and put on some shoes?

I realize, as well as anyone, that travel has become a hassle; the delays, the screening, the endless lines.  There’s no question that it pays to be comfortable.  But comfort doesn’t mean treating everyone to a glimpse of your usual Sunday morning pancakes-and-reading-the-paper look.  I’ve seen people waiting to board who must not own a comb or a toothbrush and don’t feel it necessary to put on underwear.  I’M NOT KIDDING!  Have we lost all sense of pride and discretion?  Has the effort to be comfortable completely superseded basic human dignity?  Am I on a rant here?

My flight home was eight hours.  Not short, but definitely not an extended sentence, and one guy, I’d say around sixty-five years old, was attired in a pair of short shorts (mid-thigh) and a baby blue tee shirt stretched over a huge belly that said, “best papa evah.”  Just like that.  All lower case as if some Bostonian child had written it.  With this ensemble he chose Teva sandals which he removed before even the safety doors had been latched.  No socks, of course.  Now, okay.  We’re on a closed aircraft, he’s in his seat.  Who’s going to care?  But is this how the grandchild, who is now in college, because the shirt was at LEAST ten years old, wants his Papa to be seen out in public?  Evah?

So what constitutes appropriate travel wear?  I know it may not seem egalitarian but travelers who are dressed a little nicer are more likely to be upgraded, to be taken care of faster, to receive help at the ticket counter, to get a better seat.  It’s true.  Provided, of course, it isn’t coupled with a hostile attitude. I know this directly from a ticket agent to whom I was once related.  And if you’ve been reading my blog thus far you know that I don’t equate “nicer” with dropping a wad of Euros.  And honestly, isn’t it worthwhile to consider safety?

Just take footwear, for example.  Flip flops are probably the worst shoes (if you can call them that) for travel.  They provide no support for all that standing around on hard airport floors, it can be cold on the plane, particularly near the floor, and here’s what really gets me, when someone crosses their legs in the seat next to you, do you really want to be staring directly at his or her feet?  You get my point.  Not to mention that if, heaven forbid, one has to make a speedy exit, how fast can you run in those things?  JMO.

I like a pair of slip-ons—ballet flats or clogs or something of that ilk, that I can get off and into my plastic screening bin easily.  Then, when I get on the plane, if it’s a long flight, I stow them in the overhead bin and put on a little pair of slippers or socks that I’ve brought in my carryon.  Very cozy.

As far as the rest of my outfit, I find knits work the best.  Leggings and a tunic (covering the butt, of course because you KNOW that leggings are not pants!) or knit pants and a cardigan.  When I shift around in the two by two area of my seat the knits move with me, and they’re easy to layer since I find the cabin temperature alternates between blow furnace and arctic.  And, quite frankly, knit pants are easier to get up and down in that coffin they call a lavatory.  Personally, I’ve never found jeans to be a good option for air travel.  Somehow, about an hour into the flight, the creases at the top of the legs start to dig into my thighs like a machete.  And if I spill some of my meal on them (which I ALWAYS do) I can’t just rinse it out the way I can with a stretchy pant.

Not fond of knit pants?  How about a long dress?  It hides a multitude of sins, covers the legs and looks chic.  A nice soft pashmina shawl over it that can double as a blanket and it’s a look.  A pair of sunglasses and you’re very Anna Magnani!

I’m saving my p.j.’s for Mad Men reruns.

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September 25, 2013 · 5:09 pm

It’s in the Bag

My first trip abroad was at age 18 months.  In those days there were no jumbo jets.  No wide bodied behemoths equipped with movies, phones and internet.  Those were the days of plain ol’ planes with the propeller going round.  My brother, ever sensitive to loud noises, asked the flight attendant (then known as a stewardess) if the noise would continue “all the way across” meaning, to the other side of the Atlantic.

“I hope so,” was her response.

Back then no one carried actual luggage on board and the overhead bins were merely mesh netting like a hammock, suitable for coats and handbags, and apparently babies, as, according to family lore, that is where my mother stowed me.  I slept aloft the entire trip and no one chided her for child abuse.  My early bonding with the overhead bin must account for my need to travel light and as I pack for two weeks in Italy, I’m determined to take one twenty inch bag.

My scheme is this: I stick to one color story, usually black and white, with a dash (notice I did not say “pop” because, really, aren’t you just sick to death of that phrase?) of color.  This is a great way to pack for anywhere in Europe if you want to be chic, feel great and not look like you just got off the Greyhound.  And since I’m going to Italy, “bella figura”* is most important.  See note below.

In Italy, as in a lot of Europe, women are more commonly seen in skirts in the summertime and early fall.  Only the American tourists are sporting shorts and as the saying goes, when in Rome…  All you really need to look chic is black, black or black so I’m taking two black skirts; one a swingy, cotton knit and the other a simple, woven A-line.  Both machine washable.  One pair of black slacks (also washable) and a pair of black Capri leggings.  Several white and black tees of varying styles; sleeveless for warmer days, regular short sleeve crewnecks, and a couple of longer tunic-types to wear with the leggings for lounging around.  For a little color I take a coral tee and a black and tan stripe.  Two cardigans, one black and one coral and a lightweight anorak for warmth and/or rain (mine happens to be purple), my swimsuit (also black) and a cover-up that can double as a tunic with the leggings.  For a night out I can dress up the black skirts and tees with a gold chain belt or a statement necklace.

Now I suppose if you are doing some heavy duty hiking or biking you need some more durable casual wear.  But I have found that for general sightseeing, eating and drinking in the local culture, I fit in like a sponge.  I’ll travel in the leggings, one of the cotton tunics and the anorak, and I pack a bright red pashmina in the outer pocket of my bag because I’m always freezing on the plane and, call me neurotic (you wouldn’t be the first), but if I’m not breaking the seal on a fresh airplane blankie I prefer to leave it in the bin from whence it came.  Know what I mean?

Footwear consists of a pair of Tod’s flats that are really comfortable for walking and look good with pants or skirts and a VERY comfortable pair of black patent ballet flats.  Born makes some that look really great and are SO easy on the feet they can double as slippers.  A second pair in gold for evenings out, if I’ll be walking, and a pair of very low heeled black pumps if I’ll be dancing.  For serious schlepping around, I take a pair of sneaks, and flip flops for the pool.

I love a small cross body bag I picked up at the Coach outlet.  The strap comes off so I can wear it as a clutch for evening and, stuffed with underwear and packed in my suitcase, I can board with just one big carry-on as my handbag.  Voila!

Scuzzi.  “Ecco la! La bella figura!”

*La bella figura, literally “the beautiful figure”, is an essential philosophy that rules the lives of gli Italiani.  Bella figura can mean many things, but at its core is presentation…how one looks, how one comports oneself, how one makes the best possible impression in all things. Beauty is revered in Italy, whether expressed grandly through art and architecture, or more simply by the perfect cut of a suit.  Bella figura goes well beyond image, visual beauty and presentation…it also is defined by behavior: knowing how to properly and graciously interact with others in any social or public situation. Exhibiting good manners, tact and gentility is an essential component of “cutting a beautiful figure”.  –EyeItalia

Shoes:  http://www.dsw.com/shoe/tod%27s+metallic+leather+ballet+flat?prodId=279976&category=dsw12cat2010006&activeCats=dsw10cat130006,dsw12cat810002,dsw12cat2010006

http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/tods-bow-ballet-flat/3543110?origin=keywordsearch-personalizedsort&contextualcategoryid=0&fashionColor=&resultback=90&cm_sp=personalizedsort-_-searchresults-_-1_2_B

http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/born-riley-flat/3297875?origin=PredictiveSearch-personalizedsort&contextualcategoryid=2375500&fashionColor=Black+Patent&resultback=545&cm_sp=personalizedsort-_-searchresults-_-1_2_Bj

Anorak:  http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/rainforest-packable-roll-sleeve-anorak/3544208?origin=category-personalizedsort&contextualcategoryid=0&fashionColor=Flame&resultback=3545&cm_sp=personalizedsort-_-browseresults-_-1_10_A

http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/ali-ro-short-sleeve-anorak-regular-petite/3274455?origin=category-personalizedsort&contextualcategoryid=0&fashionColor=Grenada&resultback=4000&cm_sp=personalizedsort-_-browseresults-_-1_11_A

Skirt:  http://bananarepublic.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=35288&vid=1&pid=428024002

http://www.bodenusa.com/en-US/Womens-Skirts/A-line-Full-Skirts/WG495/Womens-Ponte-Skater-Skirt.html?NavGroupID=13

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Get Packing

Going on a trip?  I am.  And my packing routine borders on religious ritual.  I start about a week before my journey, laying out my outfits, deciding what to take.  I have a pretty religious observance for all that too but as far as getting it into the suitcase, that’s the easy part.

Many years ago I knew someone who trained to be a flight attendant.  In those days the airlines had plenty of time to teach the crew how to pack a suitcase because they weren’t spending time teaching them what to do when someone has a bomb in their underwear.  Having been carefully tutored in the airline-favored method of packing, I have used it ever since and found it to be, not only efficient, but practically guaranteed to allow my clothes to come out of the bag looking like they did before they went in, which is to say, ready to wear someplace other than to bed.  And by the by, this method works for women AND men.

The first trick is I pack shoes first.  If you put socks and/or hose in the toes, shoes keep their shape and it saves valuable space later.  I always put my shoes in shoe bags, mostly to protect my clothes, but it also helps to keep them compact.  Many better-made shoes now come with their own cloth bag, but if you don’t have any of those, a small plastic will do.  I’ve used about a million from “Ricky’s” in New York after I’ve bought shampoo.  Then I fill in the gaps with other hard or odd shaped things like my cosmetics, my toiletries, a couple large bangle bracelets, my travel hairdryer.  No travel hairdryer?  For me this is a must.  Although most hotels now provide them, I generally take my own since I know it won’t blast my hair into a Don King do in ten seconds.  Brookstone has one that’s great.  The Travel Smart by Conair is also really good and less money.  Both are dual voltage for here or abroad.

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Then in the little spaces that are left I stuff in my underwear so that the result is a completely filled, and now level “shelf.”  Then it’s time for my clothes.  Forget the rolling up nonsense.  I’ve never found that to work unless you want to walk around looking like you’re wearing a sleeping bag.  I make a first layer with things like a lightweight, short bathrobe, a slip, swimsuit, maybe pajamas.  Then, if I have pants I lay them across the bag so they are unfolded and hanging over each side.

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I put my shirts and sweaters in on top and then fold the ends of the pants over them.  The tops make a cushion that the pants (or skirts for that matter) fold around to prevent wrinkles.

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If I have a dress to pack and there’s no removable suit bag or hanging system within the case, I keep it in the plastic bag minus the hanger and gently fold it on itself accordion style.  I left the plastic off in these pictures; the better to illustrate.

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Ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom.

Needless to say, it’s smart to unpack at your destination as soon as you can.  I like to use drawers if they are available so I can see what I brought.

And what exactly am I packing for this trip?  Stay tuned!

Hairdryer:  http://www.brookstone.com/travel-hair-dryers-ionic-1875-watts?bkiid=SearchResults|CategoryProductList|360552p

http://www.amazon.com/Travel-Smart-Conair-1875-Watt-Voltage/dp/B002B8VE4U/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1378662466&sr=8-2&keywords=travel+hairdryer

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