Founder & CEO, fitBallet
I’ve been spending a lot of time on planes lately. My business is based in New York and all my friends are getting married this year in LA, so I’ve been racking up frequent flier miles like it’s my job. The main breakthrough from all this has been: pack lighter, always.
I used to be a “what if?” packer. As in: what if we go swimming? What if we go somewhere fancy and I need heels? What if I want to paint my nails? (That last one is really unnecessary…just get a manicure before you go, right?) Now I try to visualize on a micro-level what I’ll be doing on a trip—working? Partying with friends?—and pack for exactly thattrip, not all the parallel universes that trip might occupy.
Unless the trip has a very specific purpose (and therefore, a specific wardrobe) I pack layered basics: Everlane tank tops (the drape is super flattering), jeans, ballet flats or Converse, and my leather jacket or a trench. I always have a sexy tank, in case a drinks/dinner situation emerges, and a super-light kimono, because that makes getting ready to go out (or chilling with coffee in the morning) so much more pleasant. I feel like a Glamorous Adult in a kimono…which is probably totally unfounded. I’m also all about the underwear, because nothing makes me feel worse than realizing I didn’t pack enough. Sure, you can buy it there, but who wants to be Yelping for a nearby Victoria’s Secret on vacation? I always count how many days I’ll be gone, pack that many pairs, and then end up just shoving all the rest of my clean underwear in anyway. Whatever, they each take up about a cubic inch. It’s worth it.
My business is fitness-based, so packing workout clothes is pretty non-negotiable. My trick is to pack clothing that can do double duty as sleep-wear. I schedule my workouts in the morning when I travel—any other time and it just will not happen—so I sleep in my tank and shorts and then head to the hotel gym when the alarm goes off.
I also “pack” my workouts: I plan ahead of time what I’m going to do each day, taking into account what kind of time I’ll have and what equipment I’ll be able to access. I just jot it down on the Notes app on my iPhone: Monday is X, Tuesday is Y, etc. It prevents those frustrating situations when you end up having to do a bodyweight workout in your room because the hotel gym was too small, and you’re like…”Why did I bother packing my sneakers? I could have brought a book instead! The humanity!” When in doubt, I just pack a sports bra. That’s the fundamental building block of workout attire…if you had to, you could make sure you got in a workout without anything else.
I am carry-on only, to the death. I check bags when I move across the country, and that’s it. My trusty Patagonia bag is almost a limb at this point: I bought it in 2007, and it hasn’t had so much as a stuck zipper since then. It’s the maximum allowable carry-on size, so it fits in every major airline’s overhead compartment, but I’ve made it through Europe for an entire month with this bag alone. I also got a Lo & Sons O.M.G. bag a few years ago, and that’s indispensable for the laptop + wallet + snacks + Kindle side of things. It’s all about the pockets; organization keeps travel stress at bay.
If I’m flying domestically, I get to the airport exactly an hour before the flight takes off: enough time to get through security, grab a water bottle and board. I take an embarrassing amount of pride in how quickly I can get through security: I’m getting my jacket and shoes off and my laptop out as I walk up, so I can set them in the bins and not break stride. When I get to the gate, I always try to make a point of not sitting down. That’s the plan for the next five hours, right? I do some unobtrusive exercises instead; it sounds totally nerdy, but no one’s paying attention. They’re all on their phones anyway! I always do a runner’s stretch, a quad stretch and a ragdoll fold. No need to touch the ground or anything, let’s not get crazy here. If I’m traveling with someone, we take turns watching the bags and going on walks around the terminal.
In flight, I almost always catch up on reading. There’s something about the limbo nature of a plane that makes it hard to work, and I just want to plow through the books that have been accumulating on my nightstand…it’s usually the only time I get to them, so it makes traveling something to look forward to. I always get really thirsty on planes, which is why I grab the water bottle after security. It sometimes takes the flight attendants awhile to come around with the drink service, so it feels legit to be self-sufficient in the meantime. Of course, pounding a bunch of water—while it’s great for your skin—means that horror of horrors…the airplane bathroom. I make myself get up at least every hour and a half (this is why I have to have an aisle seat, so I’m not that guy) and go. Yes, it’s gross, but you can do releves (calf raises) while you wait in line and air squats once you get in there. Seriously! There’s exactly the right amount of space, it takes one extra minute, and you don’t get that weird/tingly “airplane leg” feeling.
I definitely take meals as well, since airplane food leaves a lot to be desired. I keep my purse stocked with shelf-stable snacks (Kind Bars, usually) but I also stop on the way to the airport to get an actual meal. My current go-to is a Greek salad with chicken or gyro: lots of vegetables, great fats from the olives and feta, and it doesn’t smell, so I won’t offend my seatmate. I also keep dark chocolate with me at. all. times. It’s guaranteed to be a better choice than whatever’s available on the flight, and if I’m going to have sugar, I want to be psyched about it. Two other tips that help me beat jetlag: getting on the eating schedule of my destination, and working out immediately upon arrival. So, if I’m going from California to New York, I’ll eat my last meal on the plane at what would be dinner-time on the East Coast (7 or 8pm) and then just chill out after that, even though it still feels “early.” It helps my body make the leap, since it thinks, “Well, food was 3 hours ago, must be time to sleep!” And even if it’s an awkward time, I try to head to the gym as soon as I get to my hotel. It helps shake off the zombie feeling of sitting in a plane for hours, shakes up my immune system so I don’t get sick, and is just generally a cure-all.
My travel essentials are:
- Kind Bars (the ones with chocolate actually have less sugar than the ones with fruit…who am I to argue?)
- Athleta hoodie (I’m always freezing on the plane)
- Mario Badescu Super Collagen Mask (I put this on when I get to my hotel room to help counteract the dry plane air)
- A book: currently reading The Book of Strange New Things
- Sports bra
- Burt’s Bees chapstick
- Dark chocolate, 72%
- Travel curling brush (The only hair tool I need)
- Pair of fluffy socks (double as slippers in a hotel room, and are crucial when you’re unexpectedly freezing)
Julie has kindly offered all Hitha On The Go readers a 10% discount off her fitBallet book (which is AMAZING, and only $10 to begin with). Use code HOTG at checkout and get your fitness on. You won’t regret it.