Wardrobe report: Zaragoza

Just got back from a week exploring Zaragoza and the surrounding area in the Spanish region of Aragon and I thought I’d report in on things that worked and didn’t work, wardrobe wise.

I had a challenge going in because I was looking at temperatures from the 40s to high 70s with light rain as well as occasions ranging from tramping through vineyards to city sightseeing to relatively fancy dinners.

I did not entirely meet that challenge.

Continue reading “Wardrobe report: Zaragoza”

7 Must-Haves to Fly like a Boss in Economy

FullSizeRenderLet’s be real here. Flying business or first class is 100 percent, totally awesome and no amount of hacks can fully duplicate that feeling.

Let’s be realer: Flying upfront in the airplane these days costs roughly $5 million, and that’s not an option for most of us.

But even though you’re stuck in steerage, here are seven must-have items that will make that 11-hour transatlantic haul just a bit more bearable.

1. Earplugs. Sometimes the airlines hand these out in little care packages but the ones they give you are usually hard as the dickens and don’t really do the job. What you want are Hearos*, available in most drug stores. Take a few extra, that way if you drop them you can just pull out a spare rather than scrabbling around under the seats like a weirdo.

2. Sleep mask. Again, you may get a handout but it won’t be the same as your own, comfy, upscale version. I like these from Flight 001.

3. Compression socks. Some of you don’t have a cankle problem, a condition in which fluids collect in your extremities and swell up when you’re hot or have been sitting for a spell. To which I say, Good for you! But even if your circulation is A-OK, being able to slip on a pair of soothing, supporting socks is still a good idea. And as long as we’re on the subject: No naked feet. Ever.

4. Inflatable neck pillow. I like the inflatable kind because I travel light (backpack, small roll-on) and want to be able to collapse it when I’m done. It’s important you get one with a soft, removable cover, otherwise you’ll have plastic edges digging into your neck.

5. Evian water mister. A bit of an extravagance and it does take up room in your one-quart liquids allowance, but this is a lovely way to feel pampered about eight hours in to your delightful middle seat flight wedged between Guy With Really Long Arms and Legs and Four-year-old Who Is Not Really Ready for This.

6. Bose noise-canceling ear buds. These are tremendously expensive, around $300. And I resisted buying them for a while, getting the cheaper, regular ones. Then I took a press trip with a guy who Would. Not. Stop. Talking. and I thought to myself, Hmmm, maybe my own little “off” switch wouldn’t be such a bad investment. The first time I sat on a plane and clicked the little enhancement button, I was transported from a high-decibel hell of throbbing engines, crying babies and squawky public address announcements to a tranquil island where the only soundtrack was Beethoven’s 6th. Absolutely worth it.

7. butterLONDON balm. This is a British cosmetics company although oddly enough I came across their products at the Seattle airport. The balm stick is an all-purpose product that can be used for lips, hands, whatever. Just the ticket for fighting flight dehydration and it’s a solid so won’t have to go in your liquids bag.

All of the above can be tucked into a Flight 001 travel bag which is very handy with lots of separate zippered pockets. There’s even a slot to stick in your credit card so you can buy yourself a much needed G&T without having to dig through your under-the-seat bag.

FullSizeRender (1)


*Trying something new with this post and signed up for the Amazon Associates program. I get money, not a lot, if you click on the images for more info and end up buying the product.

Related post: Flying Delta Business Elite

TSA: No corkscrews with blades in carry-ons

klm-landing-airplaneAttention wine lovers: The TSA has retracted its decision saying it’s OK to carry corkscrews that have a foil-cutter attachment in your carry-on luggage.

Corkscrews never were banned (neither were knitting needles or nail clippers, despite reports you may have heard) but under previous rules you could only take the fairly useless kind with no handy blade attachment. The good models, which have a tiny little knife that swings out and can be used to cut the foil covering the top of the bottle, were a no-go. As the TSA put it in a 2009 blog post, “Fancy schmancy corkscrews with knives, no. Cheap corkscrews with no knife, yes.”

But under new rules announced in March, “fancy schmancy” corkscrews got a pass.

The change, which was to have taken effect April 25, 2013,  was part of a general relaxing of rules intended to allow TSA agents to focus on the big things and stopping sweating the small stuff.

Unions representing flight attendants didn’t agree, saying even small blades could be dangerous in the wrong hands.

Here’s the complete list of things that were briefly off the prohibited list: Knives that do not lock, and have blades that are 2.36 inches or 6 centimeters or less in length and are less than 1/2 inch in width, novelty-sized and toy bats, billiard cues, ski poles, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks and two golf clubs.

For more on what the TSA will and won’t allow, go here.