Coffee Talk

All about travel.
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All about travel.
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Over the course of one month, we'll all have taken fairly extensive, international trips—Alina and Leslie each recently returned from their separate trips to Paris, and Emily and Geoffrey leave for Japan in just three days. With all that travel, the vast majority of our office discussions have been over over what we're packing, airplane rituals, and travel dos (and don'ts). We thought it'd be fun to share a rapid-fire questionnaire covering some of our favorite topics:

1. What’s your go-to travel outfit?

Emily: I'm all about layering. I've been on multiple airplanes that have had the air conditioning break, which becomes unbearably hot very quickly. So I usually start with a cotton tank, slouchy jeans with a little stretch, socks with booties, and this poncho. It looks sleeker than an oversized blanket, even though that's all it basically is.

GeoffreyComfort and efficiency are the two most important details I consider when dressing for travel. My go-to's are a simple pair of casual pants (like these), t-shirt, a jacket with at least two interior pockets (I've had this one for years), to hold my wallet, phone, passport, etc., and a pair of sneakers (currently wearing these on most flights.) And before anyone says this is a lot to spend on a travel outfit, I probably buy new clothes every 2 to 3 years and invest in quality pieces that I wear to death.

Alina: It absolutely depends on how long the flight is and the destination. Comfort and warmth are *essential* for me. I either wear a very comfortable, stretchy skinny jean or something like a leather legging; with a flat shoe (usually a cute sneaker, sometimes an easy-to-slip-on bootie so that I'm wearing my heaviest shoe), a tank top, cashmere sweater, and some kind of external heavier layer that can be a blanket of sorts. 

Leslie: Skinny jeans, booties or sneakers, a black tank top, and a chunky sweater. It's easy to move in (in case I have to run to my gate or haul around a large bag), works for most destinations and plans, and is comfortable enough for a long flight.

2. What are your rituals before a flight?

Emily: I drink a ton of water the day before a flight since I tend to get really dehydrated when I fly. I lay out the outfit I'll be wearing on the plane and make sure everything's crossed off of my packing to-do list. I usually arrive to the airport two hours early, so I have enough time to get through security, buy a large water bottle, snacks, and magazines, and get settled before my flight. 

Geoffrey: I don't have any specific rituals, but I really like getting to the airport on the earlier side and finding a lounge, or comfortable place at the gate, to settle into and read/relax. My biggest concern is missing a flight, so I try to manage that stress by planning my trip to the airport as far in advance as possible.

Alina: I'm usually up late the night before a flight. It's a combination of being too excited to sleep, and having things I waited until the last minute to do. Not a ritual per se, but I'm usually padding around the house tidying up and making sure my place is clean so I can return to a serene haven, post-travel. 

Leslie: Travel is stressful so I like to have everything completely set and packed 24 hours beforehand, including my carry-on and any snacks I need. I also set out my clothes for the flight the night before and, if I have time, wash my bed sheets the morning-of so I can come back to a completely clean home and fresh sheets. I also download the app for whatever airline I'm flying, so that I can log in and have my ticket easily accessible (as opposed to scrolling through a million emails for my confirmation number at the gate), and get to the airport at least two (okay, three) hours early. Waiting an extra hour at the terminal is a thousand times better than sprinting to my gate. 

3. What are your go-to airplane snacks? What food do you bring on a plane?

Emily: Not sure what it is, but as soon as I sit down on the plane, I'm immediately famished, regardless of whether I've just finished a meal. I've also been stuck on the tarmac after a long flight multiple times where the plane has run out of food, which leaves me in a full-blown panic. So I always bring a lot of snacks, mostly things I wouldn't eat on a daily basis, since it makes traveling that much more fun. I love Chex Mix, Oreo's, Sour Patch Kids, and of course order any kind of cheese plate/box, if they offer it on the flight. If I'm coming from somewhere like New York, I'll also make sure to have a bagel with me as well that I can access on the flight.

Geoffrey: My grandmother traveled frequently when I was a child and she'd always bring home a pack of salted or honey roasted nuts for me too eat. I have a fondness for airplane snacks, so I usually don't bring anything on board and prefer to indulge in prepackaged food.

Alina: I pretty much always rely on the airplane snack box. I live for a snack box. I agonize over the selections and sometimes get three, because I can't decide between the "kid's version" (with things like fruit snacks, oreos, and cheddar bunnies), the "tapas" (crackers, olives, tapenade, cheese spread, and salami), and the "classic" (chips, m&ms, and honey mustard dip + pretzels). I wish real life had airplane snack boxes. 

Leslie: Every time I'm heading on a long flight, I get a salad because I love eating a full meal on a flight (it helps break up the time), it's perfect at room-temperature, and salads usually aren't pungent enough to annoy a seat mate. My go-to is the chopped radicchio and chicken salad from La Brea Bakery, which they have in both my hometown airport and L.A.X. I also bring a power bar like RX Bar, a good chocolate chip cookie, and a huge bottle of water.

4. What are the first three things you do when you sit in your seat?

Emily: Wipe down the seats with antibacterial wipes (I'm not even a germaphobe, but find airplanes particularly disgusting), set out all of my necessities (iPad, noise-cancelling headphones, comfy socks, eye mask, etc.), and read the little airplane manual (in search of information about the in-flight entertainment and/or food).

Geoffrey: Take off my jacket, put on my noise-cancelling headphones, open my iPad.

Alina: Make sure my lip balm is within arm's reach, make sure my book is within arm's reach, and put comfy socks on. 

Leslie: I set up my space by getting my book and water bottle out, put aromatherapy on my wrists, and put on the same playlist I've listened to on every flight for years (I'm a creature of travel habit...). It's just boring enough that it's ideal background music for reading. Also this questionnaire is making me sound like the biggest neat-freak/stickler, but I'm only this organized when I travel!

5. What do you bring on a flight for entertainment?

Emily: My iPad, some trashy magazines, and my phone for scrolling through old photos/videos of Sloan.

Geoffrey: iPad with a few books loaded and/or a magazine. 

Alina: Gotta bring a hard-copy book. I usually do the chump move and buy it at the airport for like $30 more dollars than if I'd planned ahead. I buy the classic ones that have taken society by storm: The Goldfinch, Gone Girl, etc

Leslie: I save books I can't wait to read (Ready Player One and Dark Matter were recent favorites) so that I can breeze through one on the flight. (I find that I don't lose track of time nearly as well when I'm watching a show or movie on a flight.) I also download some podcasts in case I get tired of reading, which I'll listen to while playing a mindless game on my phone. I'm also in the habit of impulse-buying magazines at the airport, then completely forgetting to read them.

6. If it gets bumpy, do you care?

Emily: A lot. The first thing I'll do is pop on this tranquil soundtrack that calms me down (it's literally called "music to quiet the mind"). I find that once I have my noise-cancelling headphones on, I'm able to tune out some of the turbulence by focusing on the music and taking deep breaths. If I start to really panic, I'll talk to a flight attendant, since being around their calm energy and casual demeanor often will remind me there's nothing to worry about. But that doesn't always stop me from crafting my exit plan, should we suddenly drop out of the sky.

Geoffrey: I don't necessarily mind turbulence, but I don't love it. I always make sure my seatbelt is fastened when I'm sitting, since I was once on a flight that hit an air pocket and saw several people launch out of their seats and smash against the overhead storage. 

Alina: I used to care to an extreme degree, like full-blown PANIC. But in the last few years I've become incredibly Zen about it, thinking about turbulence as the same as bumps on the road you encounter in a car. The flight attendants never seem phased so I take their cue. 

Leslie: Doesn't really concern me unless it's really bad. Although I was on a flight once where we had to make an emergency landing (on a Barcelona-bound flight), and that completely freaked me out. 

7. Worst fear on a plane?

Emily: People throwing up. It's one of my least favorite things in life (both for myself, but particularly being around others getting sick is even worse) and the idea of being stuck in a small, enclosed space with sick people is my biggest nightmare.

Geoffrey: I love LOST, but if my plane split into two pieces and I saw half of it fall into the ocean, that might ruin flying for me.

Alina: Well, a cougher is my worst nightmare. Even a few rows away is a struggle, but god forbid they are next to me, I would freak out. I've also always been afraid of a plane crash, so I just can't/don't think about it. Also, I recently had a snorer on my flight to Paris, and I was feeling violent rage towards him. It was the literal loudest snoring you've ever heard, and what are you going to do, punch him to get it to stop? It happened for hours and my headphones weren't drowning it out. I was furious. It happened after I'd already completed this questionnaire, and I came back in to update it to say that a snorer is now more my nightmare than a cougher. 

Leslie: An unsuccessful Captain Sulley situation. That, and having to ask my seat mate to get up when I go to the bathroom (I usually opt for aisle seats).

8. What’s your go-to drink order on a plane?

Emily: Water. Even though I've always wanted to be that girl that orders a Bloody Mary, I just know that amount of sodium combined with how dehydrated I already get would make for a bad combination.

Geoffrey: Water and ginger ale. Not mixed together, just separate bottles/cans of each.

Alina: I have so many. I love a cranberry juice. I get coffee with cream and sugar, to Emily's horror. I sort of relish in the bad, low quality of it—don't ask. Sometimes a Coca-Cola or Sprite. Really anything goes. 

Leslie: If it isn't obscenely early, I'll order a glass of wine. It helps me relax into my book and make my cramped seat feel just a little more like my living room (a little).

9. So the flight's in air, you throw on cozy socks. Do you pad to the bathroom in those socks?

Emily: I want to say "gross, never!" but in the middle of a long flight when it's late at night? Yeah, I've done it. G's most likely been asleep since he would be horrified if he saw me ever do that.

Geoffrey: No, have you ever looked at the floor of an airplane bathroom?

Alina: HAIL no. Over my dead body. 

Leslie: I do! (Is that gross?)

10. Do you care about looking ridiculous on a plane?

Emily: Not really. I rarely wear makeup on a plane, mainly so I can put on a mask if I feel like it mid-flight. Also, your transformation once you de-plane is then that much more glamorous, even if it only involves a large pair of sunglasses and a swipe of lip gloss.

Geoffrey: This question is ridiculous. Who approved this?

Alina: Nope. Don't care. Will put on a Hannibal Lecter face mask and hang out. 

Leslie: To a certain extent, yes! I rarely wear makeup when I fly since it usually gets messed up during travel anyways and it makes my skin dry out even more on planes, but I don't think I could go full-face mask.