Traveling Again: Tips & Attire

By Kate Riley May 16, 2012

Hi everyone!  Today I’m traveling again across the country, headed to New York City for a quick business trip.  I’m excited because the forecast is low 70s and there’s nothing like NYC in the spring!  I’m going to do a lot of cross country traveling over the next four months, two for business, and two more trips for family vacations, so I’ll be spending a lot of time in airports and on planes.

new york in spring


Here are a few things I’ve learned for better business travel, and also a glimpse at my typical travel attire too!  Packing for a trip can be tricky, right?  Deciding everything you need to bring along with you is challenging and also whether you want to check your bag or not since sometimes there are fees and it adds to the travel time having to pick up your bag at baggage claim.  If I’m only staying one night, I don’t check a bag, and pack everything in a small carry on, but if I’m staying two, well this girl just needs extra shoes and outfits and so I gotta check my bag. 

Plane travel can be stressful and uncomfortable, but I’ve found that thinking about what you are wearing on the plane and what you bring on the plane makes for a less anxious trip.  I don’t have the funds for anything but Economy or Coach seating so comfort is absolutely key!  At the same time I don’t want to be caught looking like a complete hag when I arrive, so here’s what I typically wear for spring and summer airplane travel.

airplane travel outfit spring summer

I usually wear my most comfortable dark jeans and a thin V-neck silk sweater (like this one) because I prefer having having my arms and legs covered during a flight – it’s something about that airplane air blowing all over my skin that gives me goose bumps, ick!  I like to carry on a lightweight jacket (like this trench) on the plane to save space in my suitcase even if the weatherman says “sunny skies”  and I use it as a makeshift blanket in flight (again, that airplane breeze).  I prefer shoes (like these) and earrings (like these) that can easily slip on and off when going through security. 

I always work for a few hours on the plane and I have a white attaché (similar to this one) I found last year that holds my lightweight Sony laptop.  Because I blog with Windows Live Writer, I use a PC and I usually bring a small lumbar pillow so I can close my eyes and listen to music on my iPhone or grab a quick nap when I’m done working.   

A few more travel tips I live by:

– To maximize suitcase space, roll baby roll!  I gain more space in my suitcase by rolling up pajamas, tees, even jeans. A 6” flip top box holds bracelets and earrings, or I’ll stash the jewelry I plan to wear inside the handbag I plan to carry at the big event. I rarely wear necklaces, but rolling them in a washcloth is very helpful if you do. Anything that needs to be hung up in a closet once I arrive stays on a lightweight hanger and gets placed on top folded over once (but not rolled).

– Drink a lot of water!  It helps with jet lag, and the dehydration that always occurs when you fly.

– Double check you have packed your itinerary, your ticketing information, all your phone and laptop chargers, and your earphones.  You do not want to have to buy them in the airport or waste time on your trip going to a tech store to replace them.  Although I once read that so many people leave phone chargers in hotel rooms that the concierge often has a box of them sitting there, so ask before you buy once you arrive at your hotel.  

– Eat a light meal before you board, and bring a few items to snack on with you on the plane, especially on cross country flights, or you’ll end up paying for the high priced limited offerings on the plane, or worse, be on a flight that has no snacks at all.

– Research the weather where you are going and pack accordingly.  For colder destinations, wear/bring your warm coat on the plane (I have a favorite gray peacoat) and for warmer destinations bring a lightweight coat or wrap.

– Skip the extra jewelry for traveling for both comfort and needless delays in security setting off the metal detector. Simple drop earrings always seem to work for me.

– Wear the shoes you think you’ll wear most at your destination on the plane (unless it’s flip flops and you’re headed to the beach, those are easily packed), especially if they are boots in winter since they can take up precious suitcase space. Make sure they remove easily for when you go through security. Also pick up a pair of ballet flats that fold up in your handbag (I use these, love them!) so you can switch them for your shoes for the duration of the flight and wear them in your hotel room too.

-  I always have something to read on a plane for when you have to turn off electronic devices for that half hour during takeoff and landing.  Since airplanes often have unpleasant noises, I always bring earplugs with me to drown them out.  Soft earplugs also go in my suitcase to drown out potential noises in the hotel room, whether it’s from the street, elevator, or that loud partying neighbor. 

– I also carry antibacterial wipes and use them frequently, since airports and airplanes can’t help but be a little germy. 

Following all of these tips makes my travel experiences much more relaxing.  If you follow me Twitter, I’ll be sharing some Instagram scenes from the Big Apple!

What about you?  What’s the one thing you never leave behind when you travel?  Headed anywhere special on vacation this summer?  Got any tips to share for summer travel, with or without kids?   Do share.




  1. Love your outfit. The only problem for me is the sandals – I wore sandals on a plane once, and even though it was 80 degrees outside, my feet about had frostbite from the plane by the time I got to my destination!
    Have fun, safe travels!

  2. Great tips! I also travel a LOT and am actually in NYC at the moment! Love your blog and read it daily. I would also suggest that to avoid the hassle of checking a bag even for long trips, repurpose! I’m on a 10 day trip to two different time zones right now, and I packed an extra pair of jeans, a pair of shorts, one lightweight dress, one warmer dress, one pair of sandals, a pair of flats, and a pair of sneakers. I find that it’s so helpful if I keep the amount of clothes I have to a minimum and just rewear different combinations of things and I ALWAYS bring several different accessories, be it scarves, jewelry, or hats to switch things up and still feel fresh every day.

  3. Safe travels Kate. Great tips. I hope you enjoy NY while here. It’s supposed to be nicer later today and the rest of the week is supposed to be sunny. Can’t wait to here all about your trip. :)

  4. I put everything I think I should take on my bed then rigourously chuck half so I only have a small bag that I can take in the cabin.The least time spend on luggage caroussels the better.

  5. 3 things I always have with me when travelling.
    1. Antibacterial wipes. I even wipe the the tv chanel control panel on the arm rest, the handle to put down the table tray and the tv itself. Oh yess….I also wipe the telephone and tv remote control in the hotel.
    2. A pair of stocking socks. Only to put on when you have to take off shoes during the security check. I do not like walking around without anything on my feet (barefeet) on the ground in the airport.
    3. Yess….a good book and magazines. I love reading in the plane but they tend to be a little heavy to carry around.

    Thanks for the tips !

    Safe travel ! And have a wonderful vacation. Can’t wait to read your travel blog….!!!

  6. Great tips! I also travel a lot, and just wanted to confirm that YES hotels have tons of chargers and if you ask, they will give you one for free. Never pay for new chargers again! I also never check a bag unless I’m traveling for over a week. I bring a few accessories to change it up, but try to bring coordinating items so that I can mix and match to reduce my packing needs. I usually wear flip flops on the plane to avoid the hassle of taking off shoes through security, and then I always bring a pair of socks because my feet get cold on the plane.

    Hope you have a wonderful vacation!!

  7. Im always interested in what others wear to travel in, you want to look comfortable but still trendy. My tip is to write a list of tops, bottoms, complete outfits including shoes, belts, accessories etc and make sure you can mix and match everything. If a top only goes with 1 bottom its a waste of space and try something that will mix better. Its a drag but I also try EVERYTHING on as well. I kid you not. Just to be sure I have everything I will wear and take nothing I know I wont end up wearing. Saves me space for shopping and fitting purchases in the suitcase :)

  8. For 3 years I traveled extensively for work and did many of the same things. I would add that putting clothes on hangers and covering all with one dry cleaning bag before placing in the suitcase and you won’t have any wrinkles. For frequent flyers, also good to keep one set of essentials in your suitcase at all times – such as a hairbrush, lint remover, small size toilettries.

  9. I started rolling everything in my dresser – t-shirts, pajama pants, jeans, socks – to maximize space. Roll it so the logo or label is on top, and when you open the drawer, you see everything you have at a glance – nothing gets buried on the bottom. Easy for packing, too, since everything is already rolled! I did this for my towels in the linen closet as well. :)

    Have great trips and have fun creating fabulous memories!

  10. Great outfits and great list. Here’s my top five list (after LOTS of traveling):
    1 – Travel knit pants from Coldwater Creek (not, I don’t work for them!) because they look great, are as comfortable as sweats, can be wadded up in a suitcase and still look great to wear that evening, and dry fast if you find the need to wash something in your hotel room because you had a spill or got stuck an extra day. Two or three pairs in black will get me through a whole week because I just wash them out in the evening and they dry overnight.
    2 – Plastic zipper bags rolled up and secured with some rubber bands. No matter where I’ve gone, these always come in handy. Wet bathing suit? No problem – put it in a gallon bag (unless you’re one of those bikini people for whom a quart would be more than ample). Partial bag of snacks? Sandwich bag. Leaky shampoo bottle? Garment with spilled something that could stain other clothes? Messy shoes? The rubber bands are just in case – for tying up shopping bags, securing rolled clothes, etc.
    3 – A short piece of thin rope or clothesline. Great for luggage handle replacement if broken, hanging clothes or wet bathing suits in hotels. tying shopping bags to the suitcase if I end up with extra stuff, works as a shoe lace in a pinch, etc. Four or five feet is generally enough, though I usually pack 8-10 feet. (Front desk will usually give you paper clips, which work to secure clothing if you have to hang it on an angle.)
    4 – Flip Flops, even in the winter. They work as pool shoes if you end up in a place with a pool, slippers in hotels, are great if you get a few minutes to pop down to a beach for a walk, and even work as shoes if your feet get swollen from the plane. Also, they pack flat and are cheap, so if you leave them behind, no worries.
    5 – Ugly underwear. Comfortable, but ratty. My mother is horrified by this, but it is a great way to get rid of that underwear you really shouldn’t keep. After I’ve worn it, I don’t repack it, I just toss it (discreetly folded).

    A note about reading material – I try to bring novels from thrift stores that I don’t want to keep. When I finish a book in an airport or hotel, I leave it, preferably with a note that says it was left intentionally for the enjoyment of whomever finds it. I like to think some of those books are still traveling about.

    Hope your trip to the City is a good one. Don’t forget the antihistamines if you’re getting outside much – pollen is bad right now! (I’m on Long Island)

  11. I am such a visual person that before I start to pack I write every day of the trip down on a piece of paper. On each day I list the predicted temps and if I will need a special outfit. From this I am able to get an idea of what needs to be packed as well as how much. And because I am so forgetful I always list on the bottom of the paper how much under ware, bras, and pajamas I need to pack. I am know for forgetting to pack pajamas.

  12. Great tips! Most of my travel has been to places outside the country so I always make sure I have an “emergency kit” in my carry-on in case my checked luggage gets lost. It is made up of: driver’s license and passport, debit AND credit card, a little bit of cash in the currency of where I am going, a pair of clean underwear and a toothbrush. This way, if something happens, like getting stranded in a connecting airport, I know that I could get into a hotel or an embassy if the worst happens.

    I also call my bank and credit card company to alert them to my travel dates. Nothing worse than having a credit card frozen because the company thinks it could be fraudulent activity. Most of the time, the credit card company waives some transaction fees too.

    I also pack a pair of fleece socks in my carry on because my feet get really cold on a plane and I tend to wear my bulkiest shoes so they don’t take up room in my checked bag. Usually this means heels but who wants to wear those the whole flight! I once got stuck for 10 hours in a connecting airport in 4″ stiletto boots, it was horrible.

    I also carry those disposable travel toothbrushes, the ones than slip over your finger and are minty. Great for freshening up in an airplane bathroom. My favorite thing to wear on a plane is one of those wrap sweaters: they look elegant ( I do still like dressing up a tad for the plane) but work great as a blanket. And I always bring a great paperback that I don’t mind leaving at the hotel and a couple magazines for some variety.

  13. Oh – and I use those vaccum seal bags that you roll up to get the air out. Amazing how much space they save and they double as a landry bag at the hotel.

  14. I’m heading out on a fun trip with my husband. We’re actually going to your neck of the woods, with a trip to the Napa Valley the 2nd weekend in June. I’m pretty excited about it, but very overwelmed with the choices and how to plan the day once we’re actually there.

  15. I actually prefer to fly in shoes that require socks. The idea of walking around the security area barefoot just ooks me out. I have no idea what’s on that floor. And I have a very high tolerance for the concept of germs.

  16. I agree with @Tragic Sandwich and @Ellya Brill! You don’t want to be walking through security in bare feet- GROSS.
    If you’re not wearing socks with your shoes in the airport, at least bring a pair of socks to slide on for security.

    • Hi Maggie
      I use those travel ballet flats for goin through security!

  17. I travel a lot for business. And my business trips are looong … the current one was for 6 weeks… so imagine packing for that long time… I usually carry the laptop in a backpack, and I have also my purse with me and the purse carries lots of stuff, and I mean lots … It’s kind of uncomfortable having both purse and backpack in the airport with me, but I can’t do without both of them in my business trip so I have to bear till I get to the next location. And of course I always check in a bag…
    Have a great trip!

  18. Hi Kate,

    I love this outfit, it’s so me. I was wondering where the purse is from,brand etc? Thanks for writing such a great blog Kate. Centsational girl was the second blog I EVER read, and it’s been a daily read since then. I love your furniture makeovers the most I think but your home is my ultimate inspiration. Thanks for sharing it all with us. Have a great trip.


    • Barb, that’s a Coach bag – it’s from their website but I buy mine at our local Coach outlet to saomensome cash!

  19. Good tips! Hope you have fun in NYC…don’t think I’ve been in the Spring. I’m actually checking a bag for Haven b/c I have a non-stop flight, so I’m hoping and praying Delta will take care of my bag. ;)

  20. If you are traveling out of the country, always have your passport and a xerox copy of your passport handy. A second pair of socks and underwear, a granola/clif bar, eye drops and cash in small bills in case I want anything in-flight.

  21. I have the absolute worst memory and always forget my hotel room number. Now I just take a picture of my room number with my phone and don’t need to worry if I forget the room key cover on the dresser – been there, done that.

    As for packing, I have found that carrying a very small purse that allows me to carry essentials – wallet, phone, blood sugar monitor and syringes (I’m diabetic) can easily slip into my laptop case. This lets me get by with my small roller suitcase and my laptop case for a week long trip.

  22. I roll my clothes in dry cleaners bags. Keeps them from wrinkling!! Everything slides around without the friction. Bag your shoes both going and coming back. Don’t take everything you need so you can shop and have room to pack them back :)

  23. All my first flying experiences were always with my wife and mother-in-law – the latter of the two being a perpetually late and rushed flyer. We did it her way many times over, until one day we literally ran the whole of BWI and ended up losing our big digital camera at security in the midst of the insane rushing. That was the last straw for me.

    Now I am an obnoxiously early to the airport kind of person. I like to go a few hours early, stake out a place at a bar and hang out for a bit. Many airports have decent places to drink and eat, offering local beers and whatnot. I consider it an early start to our trip (because once you go to the airport, it all counts as being “in transit” and you feel very little responsibility to the outside world, ijn a “sorry I missed your call, I was at the airport” kind of way).

    Best thing about it: you have no need to rush. Less traveling stress is awesome.

  24. We’re going to New Orleans at the end of the month so I’ll definitely use these suggestions. My main business travel goal is to get my one week of clothes into one carry-on suit case. Limiting toiletries and choosing one neutral color (black, navy, or brown, not a combo) to limit the shoes I need to bring helps me fit it all in! I just hate waiting for checked luggage, especially on my return trip when I just want to get home.

  25. I agree with your tips and picked up a few from the comments. If I’m travelling for a few days, I just use a carry-on (with wheels!), plus a large handbag and a small purse that I can stash in my handbag. A good book or few magazines are a must. I keep a few Clorox wipes in a Ziplock in my purse to wipe down surfaces. I like to buy lots of Ziplock bags in varying sizes – one for all toiletries, etc., one for jewellery, one for hair brush and accessories, and I like to place all my clothes sealed inside bigger Ziplock bags to prevent beg bugs from crawling from another passenger’s bag into my clothes (I think I’m a bit obsessed with bed bugs). Once in the hotel, I examine my carry-on carefully and I still keep my clothes in Ziplocks. I then have a Ziplock for dirty clothes, adding to it once I’ve worn an item. I usally pack one pair of comfortable shoes/sandals, one cute pair of shoes and flip-flops to wear in the hotel room, shower and pool/beach. A few cute tops, few pairs of black pants or capris that match tops, one dress and sweater, socks, and of course, clean underwear for each day.

  26. My husband travels a lot, and when I travel with him he refuses to check luggage. Says it takes too long at the other end, and he cant wait to get out of the airport. So I have become the Queen of Economical Packing. Three tops, two bottoms (pants or skirts), and a dress is actually all you need. You can mix and match to create a lot of outfits, and dress it up or down with jewelry or a scarf. Plus a light cardigan or wrap if going somewhere warm, or a couple of jumpers if not.
    I put my jewelry in a jewelry roll that I have had for years.
    On the plane I dress comfortably, and make sure I have layers at hand. I take a blazer-style jacket to dress up my comfortable clothes, or a coat if going somewhere cold. The air conditioning on the plane can be cold, too, so make sure you have something warm to hand to layer up..
    When traveling with the kids, I always travel with a light blanket for each of them. Last time we went back to Australia we were delayed and had the bumpy flight from hell on the way back. Both the kids had almost no sleep, so when we missed our connecting flight in LA, and had to wait 3 hours for the next one, I could make them beds in the airport, so they could sleep.

  27. I love your blog! I’ll be traveling alot this summer, so these were some good reminders! Thanks!

    I noticed that the earrings your showed were Stella & Dot! LOVE! Do you already have a Stella & Dot stylist? If not, I sell Stella & Dot and would love to be your stylist! Check out the new summer line at
    Hope I’m not being too forward, but I just wanted to let you know, just in case!

  28. Does anyone have tips for a first-time pregnant flyer? I am going to the Bahamas in June for a wedding. I will be 24 weeks pregnant by then. I travel often, but this is the first while pregnant. Is there any do’s or dont’s that have helped you? I live in the South, so right now I am living in maxi dresses! Any help would be great! Thanks!

  29. I ditto taking a pair of socks on board with you. My last flight I was wearing sandals, and there was a very cold breeze under my seat; my toes turned into ice cubes! Thank goodness I had a pair of socks in my carry on. Next time I will tuck a pair into my purse so I don’t have the hassle of getting into the overhead bin and digging for socks out of my suitcase.

  30. I have traveled a lot, and came to the conclusion that I would rather check a little bag then try to carry everything on board. The planes are soo crowded now, that sometimes the bag is in an overhead several seats behind. That was the last time I ever took everything on the plane I felt like a sardine swimming the wrong way in the can. NOW I check a bag – along with my Swiss army knife to cut cheese and open wine bottles – and use the time I spend waiting for it to re-powder my nose, connect with everyone I need to. Be aware of where you are in an airport. If you are talking on the phone while walking through the airport, you are a potential victim. Cell phone thefts are on the rise and you never know if someone walking close to you is a thief.

    For HollyT – try to get a bulk head seat. You have to drink lots of water – and want to be close to a bathroom.

    Happy traveling everyone. And Please Kate, if you can take pictures, take us on a walking tour when you come back. Those blogs are the most fun.

  31. Great traveling tips from everyone! The one thing I always make sure to pack is my phone charger in my purse or laptop case because I have been caught in plane delays with a cell phone whose battery life always seems to be short when I need it the most. Also, I always take an extension cord for multiple plug-in for the hotel room. With so many electronic gadgets, there are never enough convenient plugs and this solves the probelm.

  32. When I went on vacation with my son in July 2011 to Florida [my 1st time there], I packed one large suitcase [to check in] and took my Canon Powershot SX30 IS and my casual canvas bag [as carry-on] that can be carried over the shoulder & across the chest or around the waist. Since we were traveling & on the go so much, I usually just carried the bag across my chest [safer that way!]. The one thing that I absolutely never go anywhere without is my aspirin, breath mints & anti-diarrheal medicine. I never know how food from somewhere else is going to affect my stomach. I roll my towels and undies at home already and did the same for the trip. I never thought about rolling jeans or shorts ~ I guess I thought the material was too stiff. I did roll all my “spaghetti” strap tops that I took with me. It was so humid in Florida & I’m glad that I had a lot of shorts & tank tops! Great travel tips from everyone here, by the way! Happy Traveling!

  33. Great post and great tips from everyone. One thing I like to add is that I always carry those facial cleansing towellets in my bag. Somehow the airport and airplane air makes my skin feel weird. The towellets are easy to carry and works great. As for skin care, if its a short trip I carry the samples they give out at the dept stores. I always stock up on samples of what I use. so much easier than carrying bottles.

  34. Kate, I follow you regularly (was traveling last week so missed this post till now!) and love that you throw in something different once in a while, like this post. I travel a lot for work and with my family as well. Packing for work travel has become increasingly easy as I’ve done the following:

    – Make a packing list on the computer that includes EVERYTHING you’d possibly ever want to take, even if you don’t need it every time. My list includes clothes/shoes/coats etc., toiletries, jewelry/hair accessories, reading material, electronics and chargers, snacks, ID, itinerary, etc. Organize the list by category of stuff; keep it updated over time. Print out the list before each trip (or if you’re like me just keep several copies in your closet, ready to grab.)

    – Empty water bottle (I have the collapsible kind). You can carry an empty water bottle through security and fill it up on your way to the gate so you always have water but never have to pay for it!

    – I second the notion of taking snacks on trips — for the plane trip and during travel. Keeps me from paying crazy airplane/airport/hotel gift shop prices for snacks and I have better control over what I eat.

    – Like others have said, I have invested in a toiletries kit that is for travel only so I’m always “half packed” before a trip. I have one pouch with “dry” items (small versions of everything): hairbrush, toothbrush, deodorant, medicines, nail clippers and file, sewing kit, a few spare hair accessories, mini lint roller, headband and shower cap — plus a mini pouch that holds cotton balls, Q-tips, earplugs, Band-Aids, and a few sanitary items just in case. “Wet” kit is kept in a separate quart-size bag for security and holds mini cleanser, shampoo, hairspray, toothpaste, Visine, moisturizer, any liquid makeup, hair gel, nail polish and remover. Again, I take mini sizes and just refill them after each trip. You could have a third kit with makeup if you can afford to buy duplicates of all those things.

    – Recently I created yet another “duplicate” kit of all my chargers and cords for laptop, phone, camera, etc. I just keep it in my suitcase ready to go for the next trip. It’s amazing how much time I save not having to round up and remember all these cords before each trip.

    • Thanks Nancy, and those are some great tips, I love the collapsible water bottle idea!

  35. My must haves:
    *Travel size Evian spray water (to refresh your face on the place)
    *Fiber pills for the stubborn systems out there
    *Silk pillow case
    *Sample perfume and make up makes a one-time use super easy
    *Extra gum

    The other new tip I learned is to take a picture of your parking area when at the airport. That way you never forget where you parked!

    Safe travels,

    • Fantastic tip about taking a pic of your parking spot, never would have thought of that Christy, thanks!!!

  36. I have to wear longsleeves on flights too! for a) germy seats and b) to keep warm from that breeze!

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