What Are Your Secrets for Good Travel?

By: Jen Shoop

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In my late 20s and early 30s, I traveled a fair amount for work. I think I hit 50 flights one year! In those days, I had my travel routine down pat. I knew which Starbucks to hit up for the shortest line, how to move through security efficiently, and what snacks/beverages to stock up on before the flight. I got to know National, SFO, and O’Hare a little too intimately for my own taste, even having preferred bathroom stalls (!?) and favored food destinations when I was delayed or hungry.

When I flew out to California this past week, I was startled by how out of practice I am with solo travel. Not only have I barely traveled via plane the past five years (combination of COVID, having young children, working for myself, and the proximity of NYC to DC — meaning we typically trained or drove versus flew when visiting our families), but I almost never travel without Mr. Magpie, and he takes on the lion’s share of coordinating rides, checking bags, figuring out timelines and logistics, and so I am usually just along for the ride. I’d forgotten how alert I need to be when traveling alone (gate changes! boarding times! group numbers! where to find the “Quick Bag Drop”! finding the AirTram to get to the rental car company!), and realized how spoiled I am by Mr. Magpie’s attentiveness to these matters on my behalf. I am grateful for it, but also thought it might not be a bad thing to flex my “independence” muscles a bit more frequently. I feel the same way about highway driving. I never, ever minded it (in fact, I enjoyed road trips!), but in the five years we lived in New York City, I could probably count on one hand the number of times I slipped behind the wheel, and somewhere in that lapse, a stubborn fear of the highway took root. I will often drive a longer route just to avoid the highway (especially the Beltway in the D.C. area). I will admit that I was not nervous in the least about the solo trip to SFO, but I was lowkey worried about the hour and a half drive across the Bay Bridge and up 80 to Napa I’d be undertaking at the tail end. I had to give myself a little pep talk beforehand. I made it, but was white-knuckling it almost 1/2 of the way, especially on the Bay Bridge, when I had to start loudly singing Ariana Grande lyrics just to distract myself. I want desperately to get over this fear before it becomes paralytic, and I know the answer is more repeated exposure. So I need to work on volunteering to drive when Mr. Magpie usually handles it a bit more.

Anyhow – I have more solo travel coming up (and more travel in general — Tulum, possibly Disney, Aspen, and Italy are all in our 2024 plans), and was hoping to lean on my Magpies to answer:

What are your best tips for easy travel?

A few things I do (none of them groundbreaking) to make for an easier travel day:

01. Order my Starbucks ahead using the app. The lines are often crazy long and this means you can relax at your gate and meander over when it’s ready, usually cutting your wait time in half. I find the app is actually really good at identifying the correct, closest Starbucks by gate number. A cinch!

02. Keep my laptop in the front zippered compartment of my carry-on suitcase (a “Continental” Tumi — she ain’t glamorous, but she’s a workhorse! She’s still in great condition after years and years of often intensive travel!, and I love that she can expand if necessary). I find lugging my laptop around on my shoulder so unpleasant, so instead, I stow the laptop in the rollaboard front pocket until the very last possible moment before boarding and then transfer to my bag so I can use it while in flight. I know this is crazy, but the front pocket on the Tumi is the main reason I’ve not yet bought the Paravel suitcase I’ve been eyeing for months now.

03. Charge phone and laptop any time there’s a free charger — e.g., if I’m sitting at the gate or at a restaurant, I’ll pre-emptively charge/top up. You just never know when you’ll be stranded without power and I find my phone battery wears down quickly on travel days.

04. Dress in layers. I’m either sweating or freezing (usually the latter) on flights. On this most recent trip, I wore my favorite ultra-soft Leset tee, a blazer, and my most comfortable jeans (these Mothers are also airplane-level comfortable), but also kept this cashmere wrap in my carry-on, which doubled as a blanket when I got cold.

05. Wear slip-on shoes. With TSA pre-check, I no longer need to remove my shoes for security screening, but it’s always a safer bet. (Mr. Magpie has been told to take off his shoes and it’s such a hassle to have to untie/retie/etc while clogging up the line.) I wore my Chanel ballet flats on this trip, but my feet are always freezing on the plane, so I actually packed my Birkenstocks and a pair of socks, too, and was so happy to have something warmer to slip into while in the air.

06. Ensure my Kindle is fully charged and stocked with a couple of reading options (and confirm they’ve fully downloaded!), and that I have a couple of albums/playlists downloaded to my iPhone. There is always a “dead zone” on the tarmac where you can’t get good Internet, and then of course you can’t use your phone during take-off/landing. I love having some entertainment on hand.

07. Buy a full bottle of water at a concession stand as soon as I get through security. (Or, bring an empty water bottle with me and fill at a water station.) I find travel days so dehydrating.

08. Keep a small bag of cosmetics in my carry-on so I can zhush right before landing. (I have been using the smallest one from my Julia Amory set for this purpose — look for less with this.) I keep just my makeup essentials (the five-product, five-minute makeup routine here; note that UBeauty JUST restocked its constantly-sold-out “Rose” color yesterday…run! My absolute go-to for everyday!), plus decant some face lotion (currently using Augustinus Bader — get it at a discount in Sephora’s Tiered Sale, which is live now for VIBRouge (20% off) and will be on sale for the rest of us on 10/31) into one of these little pots. My skin feels so dry from the cabin air. I also always have a moisturizing lip balm (love Elizabeth Arden’s 8 Hour Cream in tube form).

09. Not necessarily “travel day” specific, but two things I love to travel with: this LED-lit mirror in case the hotel has sub-par lighting and packing cubes. I have a few different styles. These are inexpensive and I like them because you can buy a different color for each family member so it’s easy to keep items sorted. I also like these because I find it’s handy to be able to see what’s in each pouch without having to rifle through / remember. I’m eyeing these gorgeous packing cubes from Neely and Chloe though…so pretty!

10. I always keep a small “remedy bag” in my carry-on: Advil, throat lozenges, bandaids, gum/mints, Tums, tissues (love these “flat packs” from Kleenex), anti-histamines. I also keep little sanitizing wipes in there to wipe down my tray table / arm rests.

11. I usually try to make my carry-on tote bag something I will also want to wear at the destination (e.g., not something that screams “travel tote”), but for this most recent trip to SFO, I had so much I needed to carry on board for the long flight (snacks, Kindle, work notebook, laptop, chargers, change of shoes) that my preferred Goyard was too small. (Otherwise, she’s perfect for travel — lightweight and chic.) Instead, I used my MZ Wallace Medium Metro tote, which I initially purchased as a mom bag when I had lots I needed to carry around for my baby and toddler (full review here). She’s a fantastic travel day bag, too. Very lightweight, zips at top (!! so helpful!!), internal compartment to isolate items (e.g., I kept my phone, card case, headphones, and Kindle in there so I could easily access them, as the bag is otherwise somewhat cavernous). She’s a bit big for casual wear IMO (like, I didn’t want to wear her around with jeans/sweater to vineyards), but I’m so glad I contemplated what would make my travel day easiest and landed on her because she enabled me to carry everything with ease. I really like this new moss color, by the way!

12. If I am stuck at an airport for longer than anticipated, I usually pay to access one of the lounges. Some of you might have access to these lounges through your credit cards / loyalty programs (always worth checking!) but you can also often pay for a one-day pass. If you are going to be whiling away a few hours at an airport, I find this a worthy splurge. Cleaner, less packed restrooms; complimentary snacks; less noise and foot traffic; Internet and charging stations; comfortable places to post up.

13. Pre-pack snacks! I find it stressful not knowing when/how/what I’ll eat, plus it’s much more cost-effective. The last few trips, I’ve picked up a sandwich from a favorite bakery/cafe in my hometown the night before and packed in my carry-on so that I know I’ll have something good to eat on the plane. I also almost always pack either Cheez-Its, mini saltines, or Chex Mix, a piece of fruit (apple or banana) as well as gummy bears in case I get peckish.

Alright, your turn! What are your must-haves, secrets, tips, tricks?!

P.S. The magic and mayhem of traveling with young children. (Still sort of recovering from this particular trip…yikes! But a Magpie wrote at some point to say that traveling with young children is very different when you’re only traveling as your own nuclear family (e.g., no other schedules/households/food and activity preferences to factor in), and that has proven to be true. We had the best time at Deep Creek Lake just the four of us and it’s emboldened us to plan a trip to Disney this winter.

P.P.S. Car travel activities for children.

P.P.P.S. What do you eat when your fridge is bare?

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44 thoughts on “What Are Your Secrets for Good Travel?

  1. What a great post, and so many amazing comments, too! I’m bookmarking this 🙂 I travel at least 2x / month (and, barring the COVID dip, have done so for 16 years (!) so I definitely have some personal preferences when it comes to travel. I’ll try not to repeat any that have been mentioned, but I have to join the chorus and stress that PreCheck is 1000% worth it (I would easily pay double what they charge — it is such a steal, honestly! Hope no one from TSA is reading this, haha!)

    + This may be overkill, but I have a very detailed preferred method of planning for packing (this is the type A eldest daughter in me coming out to play!) As soon as I have booked a trip (or sometimes even before, if I know it is going to happen), I will start an email draft for the trip, and start noodling with ideas for what to wear. Over time I have gotten better about being efficient with this (i.e. not overpacking), but it really helps me work out what will work best in terms of color palette, pieces, weather, etc. I often have 3-4 of these drafts going at once, so I use Gmail labels to keep them easily accessible.

    + I keep tweaking this draft up until about a week before the trip, when I copy it into a notebook that I use expressly for packing lists. I add all of my outfits in first, followed by all of the other stuff I need (I have a master list that I reference). Then, when I am actually packing, I have a list to cross off (and sometimes to make adjustments, if I end up switching out a top, for example). This gives me such peace of mind in case my luggage is lost and I need to know exactly what was in it, both for making claims and also potentially knowing what I’d need to replace!

    + I keep my travel toiletry bag permanently stocked with everything I’ll need, from toiletries to makeup. (Meaning that everything in the bag is a duplicate of what I use at home, so I never need to think about grabbing things from around the house!) I regularly do audits as well, so I can refill anything that is running low. I use a small Hervé Chapelier bag that my best friends gave me for my 15th birthday (!!!) — this always cracks me up!

    + For phone battery, I love your tip to top-up when you can, but I have also found that it gives me huge peace of mind to bring both a Mophie powerbank (mine was $30 and it gives around 3 charges) and also an iWalk plug-in charger, which only gives around 1 charge (or even less) but is super portable. These come in handy especially if your phone’s battery life has started to ebb and you find yourself needing to charge more often (for example, I attend a few trade shows every year where I’m away from my hotel room for over 12 hours a day and these devices have come in handy!) I also keep a very short (1-foot) USB-C to USB-C cord so I can connect my phone to the Mophie.

    + I so agree that the MZ Wallace medium Metro tote is excellent for travel, but I have to say that the large Metro tote is even MORE excellent, particularly for longer trips. It still fits under an airplane seat, even when full (!) and it has a luggage sleeve, which is CRUCIAL for pairing with a suitcase while schlepping to the Uber/car/whatever … there are few things I hate more during travel than a carry-on tote that’s sliding off the top of the suitcase and forcing you to pause and re-adjust. There are also tons and tons of discreet external pockets (two zippered and two small open pockets) that are great for stashing a passport, boarding pass, phone, etc. while in the airport. Cannot recommend it enough! I usually also try to pack a somewhat put-together tote for using when I arrive. I have a great, inexpensive black Baggu horizontal duck bag with a zip top that I use for a lot of work trips, but I am still looking for a good option for personal trips that is more “put together” than my usual fold-up nylon totes from 8.6.4 (which I also love, but they’re definitely more casual)

    + I try to avoid taking red-eyes domestically, but I often have to take them to Europe, as I work for a company based there, and I love my Sleepy Jones eye mask for that scenario! I also always eat dinner before boarding, either at home or in the airport if there’s a decent option, and forego the meal on the plane so I can maximize sleep. I also feel very strongly about arriving in Europe in the morning and forcing myself to stay up all day (i.e. not nap) and then have an early dinner and bedtime (in bed by 9ish, ideally). I find that this is generally pretty easy, especially if assisted by a tea or two during that first day, and usually results in very minimal jet lag.

    + I’m not a fan of gum, but I always pack a tiny Baggu pouch of Japanese hard candy and/or Hi-Chew that I use on the flight during take-off and landing, when my ears sometimes pop. I love to visit a few local Japanese markets and find new kinds of candy to try — I really limit this to travel so it feels like a special treat.

    + Ever since resuming travel in 2021, I always pack at least 1 COVID test box and a pack of KN95s, just in case!

    + This one is specific to NYC, which I visit usually around 7-8 times a year, but I have learned to always pack a pair of sneakers (as cute or cool as you want, as long as they are comfortable!) I always end up walking ~ 20,000 steps a day there and I find that in the summer in particular, it’s important to bring sneaks for this instead of relying on sandals. Last summer I was here for a baby shower over a weekend and only packed sandals, and ended up actually buying a pair of sneakers because my feet were in agony! nb that this isn’t as much of an issue in the winter, when I’m often in boots or other cooler-weather shoes that are generally a lot more comfortable than sandals.


    1. Oo I love so many of these, especially the note on the Mophie charger vs iWalk. I now have the iWalk buy maybe need the other. And you might have sold me on buying the larger MZ Wallace? I think I need it!

      Also – after writing this post, I tumbled down some Reddit posts asking the same thing (best travel gear / best advice) and the top few that came up TONS were: compression socks, noise canceling headphones, and a sleep mask! Hadn’t thought of the sleep mask. So smart!


      1. Love that — I haven’t tried compression socks before but have been thinking about noise cancelling headphones! I’ve been making do with the “noise cancelling” function on my AirPods Pro, but I have to imagine that actual noise cancelling headphones are light years better! Let us know if you ever have a specific rec in that department.

        The large MZW tote is absolutely worth it! It also comes with 3 small nylon pouches that clip to a tether on the inside main compartment, and it also has a shoulder strap (which I’ve not yet used, but I’m glad I have that option!) I got mine at Bloomingdale’s — I’m pretty sure it was on sale because mine is a trippy black & white checkerboard print that was probably a seasonal color. That said, I do feel that if you travel regularly, it’s worth it at full price!


        1. Thank you so much! I’m sold. Now which color. Kind of into the gunmetal…

          Re: headphones. YES. When you catch up to the more recent posts, you’ll see I’m…waxing poetic / losing my mind / making my headphones my entire personality. We did some research and ended up with the Sennheiser Momentum 4s:


          I could not be more obsessed with these. I wear them a lot now during my work day, too – hadn’t realized how much ambient noise I was filtering through on a daily basis? But they were also EPIC on my recent trip (last weekend). I felt like I was in my own little happy cocoon. Their major selling points were: 1) very long battery life (like 2x the length of competitors I considered); 2) ultra light-weight; 3) come with aux cables and a travel case, which wasn’t the case (no pun intended) with the Apples. Funny enough, on that flight, the gentleman sitting next to me had the same exact pair and said: “Now I know you have good taste.” Ha!


          1. This is amazing intel — thank you so much! They’re on my Amazon wishlist now 🙂 Looking forward to reading more of your thoughts when I get caught up — haha!


  2. Love this post and stealing so many of these tips!

    Echoing the love for TSA PreCheck, airport lounge access, noise cancelling headphones and compression socks.

    I always wear layers (cotton tee and cashmere sweater) and am always thankful to toggle between the two as plane temps vary. I think I’m going to buy a small cashmere bandana/scarf (quince and everlane have them) to be able to use for another layer of warmth without having a giant wrap or even to cover my nose when surrounded by the many…smells…you can get on a plane.

    I love having a “comfort” book series to read while on planes (I’ve been working my way through Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon series this year) and a “comfort” album to have downloaded to my Spotify to listen to while boarding and in flight (my favorite is Tony Bennett’s Silver Lining, as recommended by you! So cozy).

    1. Love all of these! I’m now team noise-cancelling headphones. Mine just arrived today and will use on my upcoming solo flight! I love the idea of a comfort book / album. I’m usually good about music but hadn’t really thought about having a “back up / cozy” book on call just in case whatever I’m reading is a bit too intense / focused / etc. Great idea to just really pad yourself in anyway you can on a travel day.

      Thanks for sharing.

      LOVE that you love the Silver Lining album, too. My cozy place for sure!


  3. Just a few thoughts:
    1. Your luggage tag should only have your phone number NOT your address.
    2. Certain areas of the plane are rife with germs. Always carry antibacterial wipes. Wipe metal part of seat belt, and the tray. When using the tray, put the safety card on top…as we know, not many people take those out to read!! Just another layer of cleanliness. The bathroom door handle and the faucet handle are full of germs, so use a wipe, or a soapy towel when touching those.
    3. Always have a pack of gum for the takeoff and landing.
    4. Bring slippers for the hotel room. I typically take ones that are offered in the higher end hotels and use them over and over again.
    5. Samples of makeup, cleanser, etc. are perfect for weekend trips

    1. Love these. Wish I’d had the gum on hand for the most recent flight back from CA — I had a horrible head cold and the pressure on my ears was excruciating! Also — good note on the phone number vs. address for safety.


  4. you and i would make excellent travel partners as we have almost identical tactics on almost every level! i travel at least twice/month for work (so, solo) and chuckled a bit at your “favorite bathrooms” in airports line – YES. and i often snag sweetgreen en route to the airport, whether in DC or SFO or some metro area in between; so much better than something lackluster at the airport. and ALWAYS starbucks mobile order in the terminal. ultimate hack! i’ve done the SFO-napa solo drive on a few work trips over the past few years with crazy traffic over those bridges… i know that exact rush of panicked adrenaline. pro tip for next time: there’s an in n out about 5 mins from the rental car lot at SFO. coming off of a long flight + de-plane + wait for bags + fetch the rental car, that’s always my savior and SUCH a treat!

  5. Such a good tip about ordering Starbucks at the airport! We did two international trips this year: Asia for 2 weeks with the kids (1 and 3), and then Europe for 2 weeks without them! These are my must haves/must dos.
    – customs fast track option. This is my experience with SFO. My husband and I have global entry but the kids do not, so coming back from Asia we used the customs app and it was just as fast as if we had used global entry. Plus it was free and no interview required! We downloaded after we deplaned. Returning from Europe, we used global entry since we didn’t have the kids with us but I’m pretty sure using the customs app would have been faster. Search “mobile passport control” in the App Store. You can also read the app reviews and see if they mention your airport? At SFO you actually go in the same area as global entry if you use the app but are then put in a separate line. It sounds like you have tsa pre, which I find to be the most valuable part of global entry now that there’s the app! I’ll prob still renew, but don’t plan on getting it for my kids.
    – Thule compression packing cubes! Unfortunately only come in one color, but really nice for getting more luggage space. We only brought one carry on each for 14 days in Europe and our activities ran the gamut from Oktoberfest in Munich to hiking Swiss alps to fancier activities in Venice and Lake Como!
    – air tags in checked bags. Definitely a must have if your bag gets lost, but it’s also nice when waiting for your bag at the carousel because you can see if it’s actually about to come out or if it’s still on the plane/elsewhere on the tarmac! We keep one in carry on bags too just in case.
    – international travel converter with usbc outlet. So nice bc you can charge all your devices at once! I love this one. SAUNORCH Universal International… https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075KLHMJT?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share
    – having a designated “overnight” cube if you’ll be doing one night stints while on a longer trip. That way you don’t have to take multiple cubes out and makes packing up the next day much faster. I usually include pajamas, underwear, and the next days outfit.
    – period underwear. I find these to be especially helpful on long flights when you’re on/think you might get your period! Lots of absorbency and I’m not worried about leakage.

    1. OK, these are professional-level recs. THANK YOU! I’m going to wrap all of these up into a crowdsourced travel tips post in the next week or two. So many brilliant ones here! I’d forgotten about the AirTag idea – going to do that next trip!


  6. This is a little silly, but these foot hammocks are great for petites on a long plane ride- almost like being in a recliner! https://a.co/d/brvUnU0

    Also (this may not be the type of tip you’re looking for, but)— on longer trips, I love reading novels set in the city I’m visiting. Unbearable Lightness of Being while in Prague, Hunchback in Paris, Shadow of the Wind in Barcelona, etc. It really adds a new dimension to the sightseeing.

    1. I love doing the same with novels! I look forward to our twice yearly nantucket trips because they mean I can start a new elin hildebrand book. Makes the entire experience so special to read about the streets we’re walking down, the spots we eat at, etc.

    2. I love these!! So detailed and thoughtful. The novels set in the city you’re visiting is SO fun. Going to do that for sure!


  7. Great tips. I just came back from 10 days holiday that combined hiking with beach. Few things that I always do:
    1. have a packing list per family member, so it can be adjusted depending who’s joining the trip.
    2. keep a medicine bag to all trips, so I don’t need to pack it everytime.
    3. have big breakfast at the hotel, snacks/fruits on the go for lunch, and good dinner.
    4. always pack water bottles, one per person.
    5. bring hotel/disposible slippers for flight/hotel. and toothe brush/paste as some hotels don’t provide anymore
    6. preload kindle books and movies and podcasts for travel time.
    7. plenty of snacks when traveling with kids.
    8. let go of food rules while traveling.

    1. These are SO wonderful. Love “let go of food rules while traveling.” Travel days demand flexibility, and that’s an easy way to lean into the “we’ll see what happens” mentality.


  8. So many thoughts on this topic! I’ve actually been travelling for almost two years nonstop with my husband and we’re utterly obsessed with discussing this.

    On the carryon side, my top tips are:
    1. Have a small zip up rectangular pouch that has core items that you will always need that you can move between bags as needed but your core essentials are close-to-hand: think small amount of go-to meds, floss, disposable toothbrush, spare contacts, claw clip/scrunchie/hair bands, bandaids, head torch, pocket tissues, wet wipes, polarised classic-style sunglasses, and compact mirror
    2. Trail series Hydroflask (keeps hot drinks hot for up to 12 hours and cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours) plus comes in a variety of sizes and a Sawyer water filter (essential for countries where tap water is non-potable and RO-filtered water isn’t readily available)
    3. Aeropress and Porlex hand grinder — for quality coffee wherever you are. Just add a small bag 250g of coffee beans (always a fun souvenir). Additionally, the hand grinder stacks into the Aeropress, then the Aeropress fits over the standard mouth Hydroflask for making coffee
    4. Preferred tea bags — even just five of each of your favourites because it’s so comforting in-flight or on-arrival to accommodation
    5. Zip lock bag of core beauty and skincare items as per TSA volume guidelines — La Roche Posay sunscreen, Thayer’s face mist, micellar water, face oil and serums, Weleda skin food, mini perfumes, deodorant, mascara, brow products, Lanolips, Black Honey lipstick, red matte lipstick, and sinus spray — I don’t risk security rejecting a clear cosmetic case (I’ve had this happen and I very nearly cried)
    6. Slides or Dad sandals that can be worn with socks in-flights — I always wear sneakers and change into slides + clean socks for long flights. Then just before landing, I change back into my sneakers
    7. Back-up clothes — 2-3 pairs underwear, long-sleeve merino, merino scarf, 1-2 pairs workout leggings (usually Lululemon and Queen B Athletics), 1-2 merino singlets, long-sleeve linen shirt, super-lightweight workout shorts and sports bra, and swimsuit (if I can fit it), and jacket for the climate I’m flying into (either a denim jacket or a raincoat)
    8. Merino compression socks — these are excellent in-kit for flights and really good for workouts especially hiking
    9. Basic workout items — a resistance band and a weighted ball. This way I can do a quick in-room HIIT workout and physio strengthening upon arrival
    10. Key valuables and electronics — jewellery, iPad, Macbook Air, Sony bluetooth headphones, Olympus camera, universal adaptor (like the Epicka) and at least two Apple cables and a USB-C, battery pack, journal, and a lightweight folio of colour-photocopy key backup documents (passport, government IDs, marriage certificate)

    Depending on what climate I’m flying into, I’ll tweak the above. E.g. I always have gloves and a Colorful Standard merino hat when flying into somewhere really cold, rain coat in carry-on for a rainy climate, and period stuff if my period is due (I did a long-haul transit where I got my period midway and never again). Generally I always throw a swimsuit in any bag for any trip because you never know and you never regret a swim!

    For checked baggage, my core items are basically the above except I also carry 3-6 months of dailies contacts — non-negotiable for long-term travel — and some back-up skincare and hair products.
    We also carry basic items that build out our trans-seasonal wardrobe while sticking to minimal weight — so no chunky cold weather things but this gear remains in our permanent packing cells. Though I understand the logic that you can almost always buy what you need wherever you’re going, in my experience this creates extra administration and you still might not have the right thing; it’s a personal decision based on what you can make do with versus the ease of carrying less.
    Therefore, my core “every season” base kit is:
    – One set merino thermals (Kari Traa) with the top half being a half-zip that I wear for running in cold climates — even in zero degrees it’s so warm
    – North Face thermoball puffer
    – Smartwool socks — all my socks are merino now
    – 2x fitted merino singlets that I wear all the time, in all seasons, for everything
    – 3x lightweight merino long sleeves (one more technical, one black mini polo-neck, one printed lightweight from Gorman)
    – Columbia camel lightweight parka rain jacket — more gorpcore than my style really is but with certain accessories it can err practical chic a la Ganni (I hope!)
    – Pure merino camel super-wide scarf — it’s in the exact same shade as my Columbia so the matching tones feel more chic

    My warm/shoulder weather non-negotiables I have are:
    Breton Submariner sweater
    Vintage silk scarves (super lightweight for accessorising and feeling close to my mum while travelling)
    2x workout leggings (I’ve tried to travel with just one and it was instant regret)
    Black linen jumpsuit
    Black leather belt
    1x pair vintage jeans (you can wear a pair of thermals leggings underneath and you’re the cosiest/with a fitted camisole or singlet and you look classic and effortless)
    Black silk slip dress
    Sleeved dress (usually a vintage-style shirt dress)
    A bikini and a one-piece
    XL floppy washable hat and a workout cap
    Hiking boots
    Black leather pull-on Chelsea boots

    I’ve recently added to my remote work kit:
    – Logitech MX Keys bluetooth keyboard
    – Logitech M650 bluetooth mouse
    – Generic fold-up raised laptop stand (have heard amazing things about the Roost stand!)
    These three items have massively boosted my productivity and improved my neck problems

    A final bonus essential is laundry sheets. These work so well for any washing machine or hotel sink hand washing. I use these for silk garments and they’re gentle enough or I use shampoo for silk.

    1. We need to get you a travel tips blog, and STAT. This is INCREDIBLE. I am blown away by your detailed, strategic thinking on each bullet point. I truly want to save this comment in a special place. Thank you SO much!


  9. Second the Uniqlo elastic waist pants, and adding the Athleta Brooklyn pant to the list.
    – magnetic charger for my phone (lighter, cordless, fast)
    – Loop earplugs
    – A sample size (or decant into a small bottle) of Vintner’s Daughter or Living Libations serum
    – Sink-sized packets of Tide (found on Amazon), just in case
    – Quart sized Stasher bag with my favorite teas (cold care, night time, dandelion chai), backup instant coffee packets (Mount Hagen), raw sugar packets, and tiny Chocolonely circles. I like the certainty of having my favorites with me even if it means one more pouch in a tote bag full of other pouches.

    1. Love this: “I like the certainty of having my favorites with me.” I hadn’t thought about packing my favorite teas — brilliant! These are excellent! Thanks for sharing.


  10. Love this post! Here are my tips that I haven’t seen mentioned yet:

    1. If possible, fly in and out of the closest airport to home on the most direct route and at convenient take-off/landing times. Obvious but can be tempting to choose something more cost-effective when booking. I’m always so thankful to have paid for convenience when traveling. Plus, traveling at odd hours makes me nervous for safety reasons, and it’s nice not to have to worry about that.
    2. If you’re a nervous flyer, pay for a seat by the wing (less turbulence).
    3. Pack a small cosmetic bag for the nightstand at the hotel- lip balm, hand lotion, Kleenex, any medications, eye drops, etc. This is my #1 tip because I never see it mentioned. So nice to just set it on the nightstand at the hotel and have everything on hand when in bed, just like at home.
    4. Pack a few snacks, even if you don’t plan to eat them on the flights themselves. It’s nice to have a few snacks set out in the hotel room to have during the trip.
    5. While I don’t think everything has to be unpacked for a very short stay, I try to at least open up my suitcase and unpack the nightstand bag mentioned above, my phone charger, my toiletries, and my pajamas immediately upon entering the hotel room. Always thankful later that evening to be able to get ready for bed without unpacking, similar to how I would be able to if I was at home.
    6. For a work trip in particular, I love to wake up extra early and work out. Then, I don’t feel guilty sitting for the rest of the day in meetings, and after work, I can focus on socializing. Popular running routes are lovely in cities depending on the hotel location and time of year, but it’s also fun to try out new fitness studios. Key is to wake up extra early (though it is so hard on a dark morning) so there is plenty of time post-workout for stretching, showering, breakfast, and commute time to the office with zero stress.
    7. If there is even a remote chance that it may be cold during a trip where I expect it will be warm, I’ll pack a non-bulky sweatshirt (Lake pajamas and Alice Walk have great options) and comfy pants (pj pants, sweatpants, etc.). I typically don’t end up needing these items, but when I do, such as on a cold night, I am so grateful to have them.
    8. I personally love to travel with just a carry-on. Not having to wait for checked bags, particularly once back at my home airport, is a relief. However, for a longer trip, I’ll check a single bag and skip a carry-on.
    9. Jewelry and medication in my hand bag. Always. You never know when a carry-on will be checked, and when a checked bag will be lost.
    10. I keep a packing list in the ‘Reminders’ app on my phone so that I don’t have to make the same list over and over for various trips.
    11. At the end of every trip, I make sure my carry on has a few things in it for the next trip: (1) n95 masks (personal preference to wear them to avoid getting sick on the plane or train), (2) general first aid items and medications in case of sickness (bandages, Neosporin, Advil/tylenol, allergy meds, cough drops, emergen-C, etc.), and (3) a trash bag (for use as an extra laundry bag), a couple jumbo ziplocs (I pack shoes and my hair straightener in these but will sometimes forget which bag is meant for my hair straightener so it’s nice to have a fresh bag just in case), and a couple quart size ziplocs (nice to have if I forget which ziploc is meant for toothbrushes vs. other toiletries- I pack particularly liquid toiletries, like vitamin C serum and hair oil, in ziplocs within my cosmetic bag and wouldn’t want to accidentally pack my toothbrushes in one of those at the end of the trip). My contact info is also always in my bag, though I should probably get a luggage tag.
    12. Related to forgetting which bags are meant for what, I now use my label maker to mark what goes in each ziploc.
    13. I have a monogram decal on my navy Away suitcase given how common these suitcases are.

  11. Yes to so many of these!

    We just returned from our 3 week honeymoon to Italy (I think the longest trip I’ve taken since high school?!) and I found the following to be immensely helpful in lowering stress levels and injecting comfort:

    – Airport lounges always (we access through credit cards)
    – Compression socks (why I never wore them before this trip is a mystery to me…they really work!)
    – Easy access in my bag to a sweater, noise cancelling headphones, sleeping mask, extra battery pack, kindle and water bottle)
    – Sneakers (always)

    I also always scope out a place to get a good quality coffee/lunch/dinner (depending on time of day) once arriving at the destination! That way we’re not scrambling to find something that will end up being mediocre and we have something to look forward to.

    1. These are SO good – especially love the “scope out a place in advance.” So smart. Landon and I have a shared “Google Map” in which we constantly flag places we’re reading about (mainly he’s reading about), and it’s come in handy countless times. Doesn’t matter where it is on earth, but he’ll flag something if it comes well-recommended and well-reviewed. So, if we’re somehow in Baltimore and need a quick fix for a meal, we just reference his Map. It’s SO lovely!! I do the same thing in advance of travel — go onto Reddit, check out other guides to destination, and add some recs to the map so we have fallbacks.


      1. Yes yes yes! My Google Maps is sooo unwieldy these days that I had to separate things out into lists for different cities because the maximum number of stars allowed was just not enough. Hah! But you’re so right, it’s totally worth the effort of marking things down as they come up so you can always quickly reference something you know you’ve vetted at a moment’s notice!

  12. I just got back from an overseas trip last week, so this is timely for me! I swear by inexpensive noise-canceling headphones (I use $40 ones from Amazon)because they muffle out a lot of the exhaustingly loud white noise on planes. I wear them even if I’m not listening to anything. I also bring the aux cord to plug them directly into the seatback entertainment. Second is Global Entry! Even if you only travel abroad 1-2x/year, I think it’s really worth it. The immigration lines in NYC airports can be hours long and being able to breeze through after a long flight is such a relief. Third are these elastic-waist leggings pants from Uniqlo that look like real pants but have a hidden elastic waist that make them comfortable enough for red-eyes.

    1. Yes to global entry! On our last few international returns to DC we literally breezed through global entry at customs, meanwhile there were close to 1000 people in the regular customs lines. Global entry is the way to go, especially if you’re arriving at a time where a lot of flights will be offloading like Friday or Sunday evenings.

        1. The trickiest part was getting the “interview” – my husband somehow lucked out and got one right away. I ended up actually doing mine through the Global Entry on Arrival program when we were coming back from an international trip through LAX. Definitely look into that if you do have trouble securing an appointment! But fingers crossed the madness of appointment hunting has perhaps died down a bit….

    2. Ooo can you find a link to the Uniqlo pants? I need to know!

      The Global Entry comment — I have to figure this out before our international travel plans kick in. Thanks for the nudge!


      1. Regarding Global Entry, they only let those who have it use it. If you’re traveling with a group, other family members, etc the person(s) without Global Entry will have to go through regular customs. I’m not sure if this applies to children so if you’re taking them to Italy you might want to look into it.

  13. I was on a plane one or two times a month (sometimes more) for the past two years while doing long distance from Seattle to Chicago. Thankfully, we’re in the same city as of June but I did really hone my travel routine over the years. My number 1 tip is to reduce friction and risk everywhere you can. For me, the non negotiables are Clear status for breezy, fast security (or at least TSA precheck!) and lounge access through my credit card for a guaranteed meal and quiet place to sit and work. Both privileged investments but they pay off in spades for frequent or anxious travelers. Being loyal to one airline is also excellent for nervous flyers— you’ll know the ropes each time!

    Also — if I’m checking a bag I always put anything I need for the first night in my carry on. That way if my bag is lost/delayed it’s at least tomorrow’s problem.

    Finally, I always anticipate at least one thing going wrong and shrug it off. It’s just part of the jig! And then when it’s smooth sailing it really feels like a win.

    1. Love the note about anything you need for the first night in carry-on! So smart. Also love the “one thing will go wrong” attitude. Makes complete sense. Go in with low expectations!


  14. Will be checking back to read all the magpie travel tips! I, too, have not traveled by plane in years after doing a bit of business travel pre-kids. I’m expecting to barely recognize the experience when I finally fly again. We are also planning a Disney world trip this winter, will have to compare notes if you end up going!

    1. Will def share thoughts/notes on Disney! I’m pretty overwhelmed. Beginning to figure out the plans now.


  15. Excellent ideas, I do many of these as well. I’ll add: I start taking “Emergen-C” a few days before my flight, and I always plan for extra time at the airport in case there are long security lines or another bump, so I can remain calm pre-flight.

    I also appreciate your suggestion to push out of one’s comfort zone with respect to travel routines, like if you don’t normally drive, then be the driver time to time, etc. As I gain experience and wisdom (ahem: as I get older ) I find it is useful to shake myself up now and then, as it resets my patterns, shakes off nagging anxieties, etc.

    1. Dena! I wish I’d posted this prior to my travel day because I WISH I’d thought to take Emergen-C prior. I caught something on the flight over and ended up traveling home with THE most painful clogged ears! Wah! Going to try this next time. Great idea. I’m also totally with you on arriving early. I’d much rather kill a little time working or reading at the gate than feel sweaty and flustered. However, even though I’m always at the gate with plenty of time to spare, I don’t like being the first person on the plane. I prefer to wait as long as possible to board — why sit there crammed in for an extra time?!

      Thanks for the note on pushing out of comfort zones. Definitely something I’m working on for the exact reason you cite!


  16. I just returned from a weekend away and I must say traveling becomes less appealing as we grow older and I think its because it is such a big switch from everyday routines! It is becoming more of a hassle than enjoyment at times. Get to the airport hours early, crowds, lines…

    I TRY to preorder my Starbucks by my gate too but have found not all airports have that option! So beware.

    Also, I’d like to voice concern to you regarding Tulum. Mexico is not safe now and I would hate for anything to happen to you and Mr Magpie. You have young children who need their parents. Enough said!

    I share many of your travel points as well. Can’t really add anything.

    1. Ha! I know what you mean. I used to travel without batting an eye and now it requires a lot of energy / patience for me. This is almost embarrassing to admit, but I barely slept the night before, as I kept worrying my alarm was not going to go off at the right time, etc. When did I become so anxious!? Ahh! Need to do some meditation / mindfulness the night prior from now on.


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