How To Travel Better, Smarter, Easier

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Traveling is fun—packing is not. Unless you're Beverly Nguyen, Kate Young's intrepid assistant, for whom travel is not only a hobby but a job requirement. Packing efficiently, skirting TSA, and staying hydrated and moisturized in-flight is kind of her thing, so ITG called on her to tell us exactly how she pulls it all off. And boy, did she deliver. Take it away, Bev:

I was born with an affinity for travel—I'm one of those people who gets excited about the idea of planning my next vacation. Since I started working with Kate Young, I had to learn the art of overcoming jetlag, looking effortless on very little sleep, and maintaining a normal eating schedule. Going to a fitting in Paris or a destination shoot in the Tropics never gets old to me, but I have to prep my body and mind with a couple of tricks the week/day prior. Here’s how it goes down:

Pre-Flight

You thought it all started when you checked your bag, did you? Not quite. Here's what to consider in advance:

  1. Work the middle 'til it hurts a little. I try to squeeze in at least one or two high intensity classes at Kore Method to release any unforeseen stress and ease the restlessness of a long flight. If I’m less than motivated, I go to Exhale Barre Class or Uptown Pilates and stretch it out. (Pro tip: Download a few “ballet beautiful” tutorials on your phone for the hotel room and play simultaneously with whatever playlist that will light your fire.)

  2. Stay on time. Before takeoff, change the clock on your phone to reflect your destination’s local time—this helps to mentally adjust upon arrival. I usually start the work day straight off the plane, so it’s helpful in the middle of the flight when I can’t sleep to remind myself to get some zZz’s.

  3. Xpresspa. ~cue angels singing~ A 10-minute back massage can ease all travel-related commotion and leave you relaxed for takeoff. Most major airports have Xpresspas—Google your closest one and never look back.

In-Flight

I’ve also devised a few shortcuts on how to be comfortable in-flight, with a little help from Eva Chen (Eva, if you're reading this, thank you). It’s important to create a space that’s clean—especially when you’re not flying First Class. As an assistant, I'm lucky to get to travel to these amazing destinations—I'm more than grateful to sit in Economy, but I’ve needed to find my inner zen when chasing six to eight hours of sleep and the ride can get bumpy.

Back to Eva. I once read about her in-flight ritual and it's since become a permanent routine for me. I begin by wiping my face, hands, entire seat, seatbelt, TV screen, and seat back tray with an Herban Essentials Eucalyptus Towelette. Then I spray the air with Moon Water from Plantfolk Apothecary, put on Xpresspa’s Hydrogel Eye Mask, and finally, Pond’s Dry Skin Cream along with Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm. I also try to hydrate as much as possible—the cabin pressure can really dry you out. Then, 15 minutes before descending, I do this whole process over minus the face mask and plus dry shampoo.

Packing Priorities

Aside from the personal items above, these are the things I always make sure to throw in my carry-on:

  1. Always pack a bathing suit, even on work trips. I learned this when I first traveled with Kate and discovered only after landing that our hotel had a rooftop pool that needed to be taken advantage of. Since then, my Eres Aquarelle One-Piece comes with me everywhere.

  2. Two Baggu reusable small nylon bags. One for your dirty laundry and one for unforseen purchases. Baggu bags are thin, compatible, and can really save you in a pinch at baggage claim when the airline counter rep tries to tell you your suitcase is too heavy to bring on the plane. AKA me, always.

  3. My handheld steamer is SO VITAL. I like the Conair Extremesteam GS23 C Hand Held Fabric Steamer because it’s thin yet powerful and totally affordable.

  4. Clay masks and moisturizer! Fig and Yarrow makes a great affordable clay mask, and it's dry, which means no problems at TSA. I’ve also been dying to try May Lindstrom’s Problem Solver Correcting Mask but that’s basically the price of my checked baggage. Having skin that is combination, I love Dior's Gentle Cleansing Milk with Velvet Peony Extract as a moisturizer.

  5. Jaw Clenching Remedy Oil by H. Gillerman Organics for all my friends with teeth-grinding problem out there.

  6. Quip Toothbooth, Quip Traveler's Toothpaste and Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Plus Mint Floss.

  7. A Rollbahn Spiral Notebook for your thoughts and doodles, and a book. I just finished Assata Shakur’s autobiography—highly recommend.

  8. And now, the clothes. To save space in my suitcase, I don’t typically bring many outfits when traveling for work. I always remind myself to keep it simple and bring things that instantly lift my spirits or else ditch 'em. This for me (and most others) means a great pair of shoes and lots of jewelry that can drastically play up or down my clothes. My go-to lately has been the Céline Ballerina Pump in black. I find them easily packable, and the design is profesh for work and relaxed for downtime. The jewelry I always pack is my Chloé Darcey Faux Pearl Earring, my dad’s Swiss Integral watch, and two or three other pieces of statement jewelry that are fine for swollen fingers and wrists.

Lastly, try to arrive at the airport with enough time to download Duolingo and knock back one (or four) glasses of vino. My process is kind of OTT, but no matter where I'm traveling to, the most important thing is to chill out. Stressed travel is not fun. But traveling in the winter? That's a whole other animal...

—Beverly Nguyen

Photos via the author.

More in-flight beauty suggestions can be found this way.