CREA­TURE OF HOL­I­DAY HABIT

Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - HOW I TRAVEL - CE­LESTE MITCHELL

As much as I’d like to imag­ine I’m a free-spir­ited, fly-by-the-seat-of-my­pants kinda gal, I’ve also re­alised that when it comes to travel, I’m a crea­ture of habit. It starts with what time I get to the air­port be­fore a flight. Two hours for in­ter­na­tional, one hour for do­mes­tic. Noth­ing more, noth­ing less.

Pre­dictable and av­er­age as it might be, it’s a step up from the anx­i­ety-rid­den, four-hour pre-flight rou­tine my dad prefers to play, lest he pos­si­bly be late.

This gives me time for my newest travel rit­ual: buy­ing a new lip­stick each time I say hasta la vista to Bris­bane Air­port. Some peo­ple do cham­pagne. I do MAC retro matte. It sets a (colour) tone for the trip head.

Even dress­ing for travel is a rit­ual I’ve fine­tuned now that I’m lucky enough to be fly­ing off some­where new ev­ery few weeks. I wash two nights be­fore, pack the night be­fore and lay out my clothes in the spare room, 1) be­cause I am anal re­ten­tive, and 2) be­cause I live re­gion­ally and gen­er­ally have to be on a shut­tle bus at spar­row’s to make it to the air­port, so I don’t want to waste sleep time.

I re­cently de­vi­ated from my fail­safe plane out­fit, be­cause I knew I was go­ing to be turn­ing left when board­ing a flight to Hanoi and felt like I needed to be fancy. In hind­sight I’d com­mit­ted a car­di­nal sin, de­nounced by travel ex­perts ev­ery­where: I wore heels (I didn’t even wear heels to my own wed­ding). But, hot tip: match­ing heels with a back­pack doesn’t ex­actly scream Vogue. They’re also hell to stand in when you’re in cus­toms lines and at the bag­gage carousel.

What I nor­mally wear is one of two tried- and-tested out­fits (the best part of hit­ting your 30s is fi­nally em­brac­ing “basics”): a maxi skirt and T-shirt, or my seven-year-old Zara harem pants with a tee. Both look ac­cept­able enough with a scarf and a denim jacket, which I re­place with a black wool cardi­gan on the plane. Women will know what I’m talk­ing about when I say, “wa­ter­fall” cardi­gan. It’s like wrap­ping your­self in a (light­weight) blan­ket. Bonus: wool doesn’t get stinky.

Jeans are a no-go. Ac­tu­ally any­thing I can’t roll up to my knees. Be­cause my first pri­or­ity once I’ve plonked my butt on my (aisle) seat? Sur­gi­cal socks. Granted, I look bor­der­line crazy as I tackle my white, wet­suit-tight com­pres­sion stock­ings, pulling them up to my knees, but at least I won’t get DVT.

(Backstory: Ever since break­ing my leg in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion on a moun­tain bik­ing trail and spend­ing mul­ti­ple stints in hos­pi­tal to insert and re­move a fierce-look­ing metal rod, I’ve been a bit more con­scious about my cir­cu­la­tion.)

An­other foot-re­lated les­son learned from that flight at the pointy end was the virtues of slip­pers. Viet­nam Air­lines has them ready and wait­ing for busi­ness-class guests and noth­ing makes you feel more boss than rock­ing slip­pers while sip­ping cham­pagne. Next time I stay in a ho­tel with slip­pers that will only be thrown out af­ter­wards, I’ll be pop­ping those bad boys in my carry-on. In the mean­time, sneak­ers or Birken­stocks work just as well.

But the rit­u­als don’t stop once the plane leaves the tar­mac. Oh, no.

Ev­ery two hours, I pull out my zi­plock bag for a mois­ture hit like a junkie on a bag of coke. I spray my face with Evian (no idea if this ac­tu­ally does any­thing for your skin, but it feels nice), pop in some eye drops, snort fre­quent­flyer nasal spray, re-ap­ply lip gloss, and use hand cream while won­der­ing why the hell I never find the time for such rit­u­als at home.

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