Travel essentials: Surviving the journey to New Zealand

Over the last three years, I've had my fair share of flights and long distance travel. Whether it was flying home to New Orleans from San Diego, traveling back and forth to England to visit Joe, or squeezing in a yearly family Caribbean dive trip, I quickly began to realize what did and didn't work for me when traveling.

On my first trip to visit Joe in Bristol, England, I got stuck in the Amsterdam airport for 9 hours, losing an entire day of my trip. It was then I learned to avoid layovers on international flights at all costs. Shortly after that miserably jet lagged experience, British Airways came out with direct flights from San Diego to London. Thank you!!

I've also learned that I prefer isle seats. Flying dehydrates me, so I'm constantly drinking water and in turn, getting up to use the restrooms quite frequently. I can't handle to awkwardness of waking people up and climbing over people - do I give them the butt or the crotch? So isle seat it is.

I've never really loved international flights. I get so uncomfortable and antsy sitting for so long. So I'm always looking for ways to make the journey a little more enjoyable, and the transition from check-in, security, and boarding seamless. When Gabrielle and I made the journey to New Zealand with our 4 bags, we couldn't afford to be slowed down.

Temporarily celebrating the success of collecting all 4 bags in Auckland before running to the domestic terminal. I'd maybe pack lighter next time. ;)

Temporarily celebrating the success of collecting all 4 bags in Auckland before running to the domestic terminal. I'd maybe pack lighter next time. ;)

So here are my travel essentials, from what to wear to what to stash in my carry-on.

What to wear to the airport:

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  1. I usually forgo the jewelry and go with a scarf. It keeps me from getting stopped by metal detectors in security lines, adds a bit of color and doubles as a pillow on the plane.
  2. Black leggings: much less constricting than jeans, keeps me warm and keeps my legs from sticking to the seats. My go-to leggings are J.Crew's pixie pants. They're a step above your average leggings and nice enough that you don't look like you're headed to the gym.
  3. Boots: They're easy to slip on and off in the security line, by wearing them you save space in your suitcase, and best of all they're comfy and WARM.
  4. Blazer: When I travel, I like to be as close to wearing pajamas as possible, without actually looking like I'm wearing pajamas. So adding a blazer helps me look a bit more put together and keeps me warm on the long journey.
  5. Socks: No matter what, my feet always seem to get cold on flights, so I always stash a pair of J.Crew camp socks in my bag. They come in lots of fun colors during the winter season, and they're super thick and comfy. As soon as that cabin door closes, the socks go on.
  6. Flowy over-sized top: Like I said, I like to feel like I'm in my jammies, so opt for something loose fitting, long sleeved.

Top 5 picks for your carry-on bag

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  1. I received this J.Crew Travel Wallet for Christmas this year and I literally don't know how I was keeping my shiz together before this. I've owned other passport holders in the past. But I learned that although they were pretty, they were not very functional. I found myself always slipping the cover on and off to check-in, go through security and board - what's the point? This wallet is different. It's literally got a spot for everything, so you can keep all of your travel stuff together - boarding pass, travel documents, passport, money, credit cards and even a spot for a pen when it comes time to fill out those customs forms. And best of all it's pretty and not masculine like a lot of the other travel wallets I'd seen. Best travel gift ever.

  2. Mary Kay Extra Emollient Night Cream - Traveling on a 12 hour flight will dehydrate you and dry out your skin. This stuff is magic. I use it on my lips, my hands, my elbows. Just a dab goes a long way.

  3. Are you one of those people sitting alone on the floor in a busy airport hallway huddled next to an electrical outlet because all of the spaces on those awkwardly close-quartered charging stations are in-use? Well, fear no more. This universal charger will keep your devices alive and well, and keep you sitting at your gate instead of searching your terminal for a spare outlet.

  4. Bose Noise Canceling Headphones - yes, they're a bit pricey, but oh so worth it if you're traveling internationally. I added these to my wish list, after I sat next to a crying baby on my way to London.  These headphones are no joke. The earphones are as soft as a baby's bottom and when you flip the switch, all distractions go away. I (a very light sleeper) actually slept through the meal service on the way to New Zealand because I couldn't hear a thing.

  5. Apple World Traveler Adapter Kit - When I studied abroad, I used a normal converter and fried my laptop battery. I wanted something that was safe for my apple products, but that was versatile enough for travel anywhere. The plugs snap on and off of your existing apple product USB chargers. Throw the adapters you need into your purse, so you can charge up during international layovers and let mom and dad know you arrived safely.

Bonus item to bring:

Testing out some sleeping positions before we take off.

Testing out some sleeping positions before we take off.

A sister - now not everyone has the luxury of bringing one of these, but I highly recommend them. Gabrielle especially came in handy when it came to packing (I pretty much called dibs on using her checked luggage), and even more so when it felt like the plane was going to fall out of the sky in the middle of the night. Without having to say anything, we just held hands to give each other comfort.