Notes on my pre-airplane routine

Notes on my pre-airplane routine

Although I’m certainly not a full-time traveler, travel is still (obviously) a big part of my life. I average about 30 flights a year, mostly for pleasure but a few for business. I almost always fly out of JFK, and fly JetBlue 75% of the time and generally fly Delta whenever JetBlue doesn’t offer a flight to that domestic destination (aka to Atlanta). I try to do red-eyes or late evening flights whenever possible, although I’ll also do a very early morning: in general, I try to avoid any middle of the day or prime commute hours whenever possible.

Flying to St Bart's on Tradewind Aviation

All of that said: I have a pretty solid routine down to make getting out of town as efficient, easy and enjoyable as possible.

The day before

First things first: I make a to-do list of anything and everything I need to do before leaving (picking up food, charging things, etc.) and usually include a quadrant of things not to forget (aka things I usually forget) like contacts, chargers, passport, etc. I’ve started checking in on the mobile app on my phone and adding my boarding pass to Apple Wallet, so that it’s easy to find once I get to the airport. I double check what time my plane is leaving, and do the backwards math on what time I need to be there and thus what time I need to leave my house. Then I call and order car service (or figure out what time I need to be on the subway). I make sure to fully charge my Kindlemy noise-cancelling headphones and my laptop–and then make sure that all of my chargers are packed. I’ve usually started “packing in my mind” long before I actually leave, but I like to have my bag all packed (minus my toiletries) by the time I go to bed the night before.

How I get there

I generally use a car service to get to the airport. Although it’s a bit of a precursor to Uber and Lyft, it’s super reliable (they’re often early), costs a flat fee and the drivers generally know all of the local shortcuts when there’s traffic. I just call the day before and let them know what time I need to be picked up, and they’ll be waiting outside my building when I leave. If I’m leaving during a particularly high traffic time (i.e. Friday afternoon on a holiday weekend), I’ll usually opt to take the subway and AirTrain. From my apartment, driving to JFK generally takes about 30 minutes and costs $35 plus tip, while the subway takes about an hour and 15 minutes and costs $7.75 ($2.75 for subway fare and $5 for AirTrain fee). I used to exclusively take the subway since it was so much cheaper, but now I don’t mind spending a bit more for comfort and convenience (especially if I’m splitting that fee with someone).

What I wear

I wear basically the same thing every time I fly: Outdoor Voices leggings, Everlane tee, Allbirds sneakers, some sort of sweatshirt or jacket. I don’t subscribe to the getting dressed up to fly mentality: I fly so many red-eyes that I’m much more interested in comfort. If it’s a night flight, I definitely won’t wear any makeup and I’ll throw my hair up in a messy bun since my first stop the next morning will be a shower. I’d rather just put on some extra moisturizer to protect my skin against the extra dehydrating effects of air travel.  Sweetgreen salad and The After Party book

What I bring

Although there are pretty good food options at JFK, most of them are expensive and unhealthy. So! I’ve started picking something up before I head to the airport–usually a sweetgreen salad or an Eataly sandwich. One thing that I learned the hard way: acai bowls are considered a liquid and can’t go through security. Keep that in mind for any food you bring with you! I also keep a Swell water bottle in my bag so that I can fill up with water once I go through security–I’m super conscious about staying extra hydrated when I’m flying.

Steamline Luggage and #thatPDXcarpet

How I pack

I generally bring two bags with me: a tote bag, and either the Everlane Weekender or my rolling Steamline carry-on. My tote bag has my laptop, Kindle, water bottle, wallet, noise-cancelling headphones, keys, passport, chargers, etc. I can’t remember the last time I checked a bag–I’m not that worried about it getting lost, I just really hate having to wait for anything once I land (patience is NOT my strong suit). I also believe in being able to carry all of my bags myself, so this is just enough for me to handle! p.s. here are my tips on how to pack for a weekend away in a carry-on.

At the airport

I have Global Entry, which generally means that I’m approved for TSA Precheck–aka I can skip the long security lines and don’t have to take off my shoes or take my laptop out of my bag. If you’re a frequent (or even semi-frequent) international traveler, I can’t recommend Global Entry enough. I can usually breeze through security, and then I head straight to the gate where I’ll usually set up with my laptop and try to get a bit of work done before boarding. Two deviations: if I’m there in the early morning, I’ll usually brave the line at Starbuck’s and grab a coffee, and if I’m flying Delta out of JFK, I always grab something at Shake Shack.

On the plane

My plane behavior veers a few different ways–although I always try and get a window seat. I’m not a nervous flier at all, so I usually just settle right into the flight. If it’s a red-eye, I pop a Zzzquil, put in my noise-cancelling headphones and my fancy eye mask, turn on my sleep music and immediately go to sleep. If I’m in a productive mood, I’ll listen to music or a podcast during takeoff and then write during the flight. If I’m off on a vacation (or if I’ve just started a good book–this happened last with Hillbilly Elegy), I’ll read for most of the flight. Sometimes I like to not turn on wifi on my phone during the flight to sort of mimic that “cannot be disturbed” mentality–I either get a lot more work done, or I fully enjoy my book!

What’s your pre-travel routine? 

p.s. here are my morning, evening and beauty routines if you’re interested! Are there any other routines you’d be interested in reading about? 

  • I’m pretty sure we’re neighbors, so I’ll share my favorite way to get to JFK – the LIRR from Nostrand! It takes about the same amount of time as a car (only two stops!) and is much more reliable than the subway for only a bit more money. I love that it runs on a regular schedule so I can walk up to the platform as a train’s arriving – no just missing the A train or watching 3 Lefferts-bound trains go by while you wait for a Rockaway-bound.

  • Kate

    Love this! I fly pretty frequently but nerves have gotten substantially worse in the past few years and I am super jittery on planes. Another thing I would love to see is your Paris packing list!

  • Once again, so organized and efficient. I love it!! One day I hope I will be more like this. But I definitely tend toward a slightly different routine every time depending on where I am going and what kind of equipment I need for the trip whether it’s a lot of gear or just a little. I definitely can’t do carry on only like you because of how much photographic equipment I have to carry on but waiting for baggage is for sure my #1 frustration.

  • How are you so organised?! I’m a throw it in the bag a few days before and then fret about it up until the flight! Totally agree on the in flight clothing though, gotta be comfortable.
    Kate || http://www.katerattley.com

  • Chae

    Love, love, love your routine posts, Christine!

  • Grace B

    Okay, now I’m curious to know how you handle exercise in such a busy lifestyle! 🙂 And I find your organization so inspiring!

  • Diana Maria

    This is great! I always wear my comfy leggings on flights, and make a to do list so I feel ready to go. These are all wonderful ideas- that light blue suitcase is so lovely!

    My Lovelier Days

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  • camorose

    Ohhh I am considering trying this out on our next trip home from the airport! I’ll report back!

  • camorose

    Noted! I feel like my style is the same no matter where I go, but let me see what I can come up with for Paris!

  • camorose

    Ah yes! Going iPhone only makes it WAY easier–the gear is a really tough part of travel photography!

  • camorose

    Haha I try! Doesn’t always work out, but I do like getting as much of it organized ahead of time as possible!

  • camorose

    Yay! Any ideas for what other ones you’d like to see?!

  • camorose

    Hmmm maybe that’s an idea for a post in itself! Honestly though I find that just living in NYC forces a lot of exercise–subway stairs, carrying groceries, biking to work, etc. Classpass also really helps because if I schedule it, I’m totally locked in!

  • camorose

    Thank you! Suitcase is by Steamline, and I love it!

  • Chae

    Well, this isn’t a routine as such (or perhaps it is… a packing routine maybe?!)
    Do you have any key packing items for winter? Or even just some clothing suggestions for surviving a cold, snowy season. I am forever travelling in winter (which I love – oh the snow!), but also forever turning into an icicle because, apart from layering, haven’t quite perfected this way of dressing!