My mother is my traveling idol.  The woman even potty-trained me on a flight from India to the USA.  When I was 2.

Yes, I’m trying to wrangle her for an En Route With feature.

If there’s one thing she never leaves home without, it’s a small vanity case filled with jewelry.  Mama Palepu and her bling is as classic a combination as peanut butter and jelly, biscuits and gravy, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and Haribo Gummi Bears

Ever since I could pack for myself, I’ve followed my mother’s sage advice and packed my own bag of jewelry.  Granted, it was limited to friendship bracelet-making supplies as a kid, but it’s evolved to a healthy smattering of costume jewelry, with a fine piece or two thrown into the mix.  Mom’s wise advice also provided the foundation of my entire accessory packing style.

Jewelry - As mama said, don’t leave home without it.  I’ll wear my delicate items on the airplane, and pack a statement piece from each category.  Sometimes, two of each.  As long as it…

Clutch Move - …all fits inside the clutch I’m packing.  Sometimes it’s a small, structured number.  Other times, it’s a large envelope clutch.  Whatever the trip and my mood dictates.  But as long as it fits in the clutch, it’s fair game.  Between the clutch (or any small bag) and the tote I use for my personal item, I’m well-equipped for all my purse needs.

Wrap It Up - Along with my bag of jewelry, I never leave home without a scarf.  A lightweight number that doubles as a sarong if I’m headed to the tropics, or a warm cashmere number the rest of the time.  My absolute favorite travel scarves are from Julie Vos – crazy soft, super warm, AND lightweight.  They are the Holy Grail of scarves.  Worth every penny.  If I don’t wear them, I use them to pack my hat?  How, you ask?

Top It Off - Hats aren’t something I always pack, but always do if I’m headed to the beach or suffering from a bad hair day.  Which is…often.  I usually opt to wear my hat on the plane (adds instant style AND hides awful airplane hair).  If I do choose to pack it, I’ll stuff the aforementioned scarf into the hat section (with other small items), and place it at the bottom of the suitcase or top, depending on the brim situation.  More tips on packing hats here!

Talk to me – how to pack your accessories?  Are you a minimalist, or do you believe more is more?  And what advice did your mother give you that you continue to follow to this day?  COMMENT below and let me know!


It’s my 30th birthday.  And I’m in one of my all-time favorite cities in the world.

There isn’t a word (or an emoji, for that matter) to depict how happy I am.

After a breakfast of star-shaped pancakes and mimosas (courtesy of the Seabourn Quest),  we made our way through Russian customs and onto the bus, which would be taking us to the Hermitage.  Also known as one of the world’s most spectacular museums.

I’ve been utterly blessed to have toured the extensive art collections, housed in the Winter Palace and an additional 4 buildings, twice already.  I knew exactly where my favorite Picasso was, the best angle to see the ever popular Rembrandts.  I also knew there was a new exhibit of historical Russian clothing that I had to see.

The downside of not getting Russian visas was that we were bound to the tours arranged by the ship.  The upside of these tours were getting into the museums early, and skipping a number of lines.

Another downside – having to stay with the tour.

Our guide was excellent, moving our large group with ease through the crowded rooms and galleries.  A knowledgeable art historian, she shared details of the great works in the Hermitage – the two Madonna and child paintings by Raphael, the room of exquisite Rembrandts, and the extensive Impressionist gallery housed in the museum.  She touched on the politics of Russia’s art collection, noting a recent failed attempt by the curator of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Art in Moscow to bring the entire art collection under one roof.  Prompted by my question, she explained in detail how the works of the Hermitage were carefully packed and shipped off to Ekaterinasburg, in central Russia, for their protection during WWII.  (Ekaterinasburg was also the site of the Romanov family’s exile and execution). [click to continue…]


Sleep?  On a flight?

Surely you jest.

Let’s face it – spending hours strapped in a tiny seat is no picnic.  Sleeping on it – nearly impossible.

WITHOUT the help of wine or pharmaceuticals.

I wish I could promise these tips will work for you – but I can’t.  They definitely have helped me in countless red-eyes from hell I’ve traveled in (middle seats, snoring neighbors, screaming babies).  I hope they help provide you some peace and a few hours of rest.

Exhaust yourself.  I’ve noticed that I sleep more soundly on the plane if I’ve exhausted myself, both physically and mentally, before the flight.  If my schedule permits, I prefer to exercise and shower right before I leave, or at least plan for a strenuous workout that day.  For mental exhaustion, I reach for poetry or complicated classic novels (I recommend Russian authors for this) to read while I’m waiting to board the flight.  Pick what works for you – a newspaper, scientific journal articles, etc.  If all else fails, I count up prime numbers in my head until I nod off.

Fuel up.  Everyone has their favorite comfort food.  And while I can’t find my mother’s excellent Indian cooking in ANY airport, a large cup of vegetable soup and an herbal tea is equally satisfying and healthful right before a flight.  Just say no to airplane food.  I also pack a small breakfast (steel-cut oatmeal packet, a small pouch of almond butter, a highly caffeinated teabag) that I can prepare in-flight with hot water and a styrofoam cup.  Having your go-to morning meal at your fingertips will help wake you up after an overnight flight – whether you slept well or not.

Keep your routine.  Before I board the airplane, I hit the bathroom to quickly brush my teeth, wash my face, and go through the rest of my nightly routine.  Maintaining your typical nighttime rituals helps signal your brain that it’s time to sleep – even under the harsh glare of the bathroom’s fluorescent lights.

Sensory deprivation.  I do my best to block out the world when I need to sleep on flights – eyemask, a comfortable pair of headphones and soothing music, essential oil towelettes (I rub a lavender one on my chest and then use it to wipe down EVERYTHING near me).  I also bring along my own neck pillow and large scarf to use as a blanket, as I do NOT trust the cleanliness of airline blankets and pillows.

And the million dollar question – what about a glass of wine or sleep medication?

You’re a smart one.  Talk to your doctor before taking any kind of sleep medication (prescription or over-the-counter) on a flight.  As far as wine goes, I’ve relied on a glass of red before a dreaded red-eye – coupled with several glasses of water.  You know what’s best for you, and use good judgement before self-medicating before any flight.

image via // photography by joshua bouman


Your turn – got any tips for getting some much-needed sleep on a dreaded flight?  COMMENT below and let me know!