Whether you’re gearing up for some autumn business travel or planning ahead for holiday excursions, now is the time to take inventory of your carry-on bag. We say a woman needs a finely curated (read: lightweight) selection of necessities to get her through a long flight in comfort and style. So the next time you fly the friendly dehydrating, claustrophobic, noisy skies, arm yourself with these 10 travel must-haves.
1. Tap Filter Bottle. Isn’t it a drag when your bottle of Evian is confiscated at the security checkpoint? Eliminate the problem by toting an airport-friendly, earth-conscious, refillable bottle, which purifies H2O from any tap—even the airport water fountain. We like the Aqua Gear Tritan, $35.
2. Noise-Canceling Headphones. Whether you’ve got an infant crying in the row behind you, or two old guys engaged in hot political debate across the aisle, it’s nice to be able to block out those annoying airplane distractions. And you have to admit, both your iTunes playlist and that On-Demand action flick sound so much better through quality headphones such as the QuietComfort 25 from Bose.com, $300.
Stay hydrated with one of these facial mists. Photo by INGA LIM.
3. Moisturizer. Airplane air is notorious for drying out even the most supple complexion. Bring aboard some plumping moisturizer, like Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Gel Cream, $20 at Ulta.com, or Origins Night-A-Mins face cream, $43 at Origins.com. An invigorating toning spray is also great for refreshing your face mid-flight; read all about them in our story, “Spray Your Way To Gorgeous Skin”.
4. Reading Tablet. While we Red Typewriter mavens consider ourselves literary ladies who love the feel of a good book in our hands, let’s face it: Schlepping a stack of novels onto an airplane just isn’t convenient. With a reading tablet like the iPad or Kindle, you can download dozens of new titles to get you through a trip to Timbuktu and back again.
5. Breath Fresheners. To avoid emerging from a long flight with nasty breath, carry mints, chewing gum (also great for easing that awful ear-popping) or a travel-size toothbrush. For super-portability, you can’t beat Colgate Wisp mini disposable brushes, $8 for 16 at Amazon.com. For those who prefer electric, the Violight Slim Sonic Travel Toothbrush, $16 at Brookstone.com, weighs only 2 ounces and comes in an array of chic designs.
6. Wipes. Life can get messy, especially on a germ-ridden, filled-to-capacity flight. Combat the cross-country grime with a package of travel-size wipes, good for everything from pre-meal hand cleaning to TV monitor sanitizing. We like the eco-friendly, TSA-approved options from La Fresh, $2.50 and up at Lafreshgroup.com.
7. Compression Socks. No, we probably wouldn’t wear stilettos onto a plane—this isn’t 1965, after all. But even when they’re clad in comfy sneakers or flip-flops, our tootsies and legs can swell mid-flight. Changing into a pair of compression socks onboard (we like the stylish offerings from Vim & Vigor, $33 at Brightlifego.com) means we’ll disembark with some spring in our step.
8. Travel First-Aid Kit. This one’s a must-have if you’re flying with children. A tiny version like Johnson & Johnson’s at Amazon.com, $5, is just big enough to stash a few Band-Aids, some aspirin or ibuprofen for those mid-flight headaches (especially if you’ve forgotten our #2 suggestion), and some kids meds. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
9. Cozy Shawl. It can get chilly on most flights, and you never know what the weather will be like on the other side—airports in tropical cities can be air conditioned, remember? A soft, lightweight wrap (we like the CozyChic Travel Shawl, $105 at Nordstrom.com) will keep you toasty during your travels—and send signals to the flight attendant that you are sleeping and, no thank you, you do not need another bag of peanuts.
10. Pen and Notebook. Yeah, yeah, you’ve got your phone, reading tablet and maybe even your laptop onboard with you. But even in this high-tech age, basic writing utensils can still come in handy. You may need a pen for filling out customs forms, and you just never know when a supreme idea will pop into your head and need to be recorded. Try the travel-size notebook available at Moleskine.com, $10.
This junk in your trunk just might save your sanity, if not your life.
You know you need to keep a donut in your car trunk at all times. (No, not the sugar-coated concoction you crave when you’re PMS, but nice try.) Maybe you learned the hard way that you also need a jack and a tire iron. But that’s not all, ladies. Here are 10 other essentials you might not have thought about stashing in your vehicle. But you absolutely should.
(P.S. We don’t have to tell you to always keep your car manual in the glove compartment…right?)
1. A good-quality flashlight. The HybridLight 160Y is solar-powered via any light source (with battery backup) and doubles as a charger. $40 at hybridlight.com.
4. Cell-phone juice. In the event that your phone’s battery conks out, you can always rely on a solar charger. Just face the panel of the Fuse 6W Solar Charger toward the sun, then plug in your phone (or any USB device) and you’re good to go. $130 at voltaic systems.com.
5. Sneakers and socks. Sometimes those stilettos just won’t do. If you suddenly break down on your way back from work (or the club), you’ll have the right gear for walking or changing a tire. You know where to buy these. Now do it.
6. A list of emergency phone numbers. If your cell dies, do you remember anyone’s number, including your own? We thought so. You might want to laminate this one.
7. Nourishment. Stash a few snack bars in the glove compartment, in case you find yourself stranded. More important, keep some H2O in the trunk to avoid dehydration; carton containers make storage a snap. $16 for an eight-pack of half-liter cartons at boxedwaterisbetter.com.
8. Garden gloves. If you are indeed faced with changing a tire or engaging in some equally heavy-duty (and dirty) lifting, do your hands a favor and protect them with some safety or garden gloves, like these by HandMaster, $7 on Amazon.com.
9. First aid kit. Whether you’re contending with minor boo-boos or something more ominous, make sure you’ve got the equipment to heal and protect you and your loved ones while you’re on (or off) the road. A good bet is this AAA 121-piece compact case available from Amazon.com.
You're a smart, powerful woman. Now prove that to your automobile.
Baby, we know you got skills. Perhaps you can speak four languages, compete in triathlons or whip up a five-course meal at a moment’s notice. But tell us: Do you have any idea how to fix your car when it breaks down?
If you said yes, know that, at this very moment, we are bowing in admiration. If you said no, well, don’t worry, because you’d be surprised how many bright, well-educated women fall short when it comes to basic automobile knowledge. Unfortunately, car maintenance and repair is something many of us were taught to leave to the experts—or at least the guys in our life. But we say, ladies, it’s time to hit the road prepared.
1. Change a flat tire. A flat or blowout could happen on a moment’s notice, and you best be prepared. Never drive without a spare tire, or “donut” in your car. A jack and tire iron are also pretty essential, unless you’re certain you’ve renewed that AAA membership. If you can safely change a tire when the need arises, you’re on your way to automobile-goddess status. Note: After successfully replacing the flat, don’t just put the damaged tire where the donut used to be—for God’s sake go out and buy a new tire.
2. Check and change the oil. Running low on oil is bad for your car’s engine, so know how to check it. Actually being able to refill the oil gets you bonus points, but it’s perfectly respectable to take your car to the station to get it serviced. Your car manual (yes, you gotta read that) will tell you approximately how often a change is needed; for instance, every 3,000 miles or more.
3. Check and adjust the tire pressure. It’s not only dangerous to ride on over- or under-inflated tires—it also drains gas mileage. That’s why it’s a good idea to know how to check your tire pressure, and if it’s low, how to add the right amount of air. It’s also wise to keep a roll of quarters in your car, because some air machines still operate the old-fashioned way.
4. Refill the windshield wiper fluid. Of course, this one’s a no brainer: Dirty windshields mean less-than-stellar visibility when driving. You should know where to add the fluid (check your car’s manual if you don’t), and have a jug of it in your trunk for emergency refills.
5. Replace the wiper blades. Effective windshield wiper blades are a necessity in almost any weather. Don’t worry about memorizing the size your car requires (most stores have a guide you can use), but do know how to determine when you need a new pair, and how to change them. Replacement directions are usually right on the back of the package, but here’s a nifty how-to video.
6. Jumpstart a vehicle. Knowing how to jump-start a car is an impressive skill to have. Even if you fail to breath new life into the damn thing, making an attempt is more valiant that sitting in your car crying. Of course, you don’t stand a chance if there are no jumper cables in your trunk. So please, keep some jumper cables in your trunk. (Read our list of the “10 Things You Should Always Keep in Your Car Trunk.”)
7. Handle bad road conditions. Inclement weather and other factors can cause sliding or spinning, and it’s easy to panic if that happens. It’s important to keep calm when driving conditions take a turn for the worse, and to know that you shouldn’t slam the brakes or jerk the wheel hard in the opposite direction. Here’s a great video that shows how to control your vehicle by steering out of the spin.
8. Drive a standard transmission. Being able to operate a manual transmission will make you the coolest chick on the block. Truth is, you never know when you might need to drive a stick shift. It’s not that hard—just ask someone with a manual transmission to take you to a large parking lot after hours and teach you everything you need to know. About the car, that is. Watch this quick tutorial before you hit the mall at 2 a.m.
9. Go off-roading. You say you already know how to drive on a dirt road? Congratulations. But we’re talking about log bridges, large rocks, and crazy-off-road conditions that might find you somehow, someday. Find a friend with an off-road vehicle (a Jeep would do nicely) and hit the trails. With a little practice, you’ll be ready to navigate some badass adventures in no time. Check out Debbie Anderson’s book Simple Rules for the Road Warrior Princessfor inspiration on solo road (and off-road) tripping.
10. Call a tow truck. Triple-A can be your best friend when car trouble has you stranded. If your vehicle breaks down and, despite all your homework, you have no idea how to fix it, just dig through your wallet for that handy little AAA card. You knew you paid your annual dues for a reason.
We love romantic escapes with our significant others. We adore playful weekends away with the family. But sometimes we just need a getaway with the girls. We need a trip with the women who know and love us and can put up with our biggest quirks—including our penchant for turning up that really bad 90s music on the rental car stereo, hogging up the armrest on the airplane, or spitting sunflower seeds out the window as we drive (wait, no, that was Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally).
If you’re lucky enough to have a friend—or two, or three—with whom you’d love to escape for a few days, here are 5 fun-loving towns to blow through this weekend.
Victorian manors line Charleston’s pretty waterfront.
1. Charleston, S.C.
The plentiful shopping and dining options, gorgeous Antebellum architecture, mild weather and generous Southern charm make Charleston the perfect girls-weekend destination. This is a truly walkable city where you can soak up the history, experience the food and nightlife, and shop until you drop—all without straying too far from your hotel.
Stuff to do: Start your weekend by exploring Charleston’s main attractions by foot. Wander around Waterfront Park and stroll the boardwalk along the Cooper River, taking note of the lovely mansions perched on the water. Take a scenic ferry ride across the river or a carriage ride around town. Frolic along King Street in the historic district, where dozens of boutiques, antique shops and restaurants draw big crowds on the weekends. After dinner, head to City Market, a series of open-air stalls and small shops peddling everything from fresh local food to handwoven sweetgrass baskets. If you feel like venturing out of the city center, drive to the 18th-century Middleton Place, a national historic landmark and home of the oldest landscaped gardens, or the Charleston Tea Plantation, in the heart of South Carolina’s low country, both of which offer tours. Or head to the beach to soak up some sun on the seaside village Sullivan’s Island, just minutes from downtown.
Where to stay: The historic French Quarter Inn offers the ultimate in Southern hospitality, pampering you with champagne upon arrival, wine and cheese in the afternoon, and milk and cookies at night. Another good choice is the Market Pavilion Hotel, which features a cascading pool and a rooftop bar with sweeping views of the city. For more moderately priced accommodations, the Doubletree Guest Suites in the heart of the historic district offers spacious rooms and suites within walking distance of City Market.
What to eat and drink: Charleston is one of the country’s most up-and-coming foodie destinations, offering not only amazing restaurants but numerous culinary tours and cooking classes, such as those run by Charleston Cooks. The city is known for its Southern homestyle cooking featuring fresh local seafood, so don’t leave town without sampling the regional cuisine at Poogan’s Porch, housed in a Victorian townhouse in the historic district. For more modern fare, check out the loft-like atmosphere and mediterranean-inspired plates at Cannon Green, or head to Sullivan’s Island for the nouveau-French/Italian/Spanish fare at The Obstinate Daughter. After dinner, check out the lively late-night crowd at Social Wine Bar, the sophisticated ambiance and house-made infusions at Cocktail Club, or the lively scene at bowling-alley-meets-bar The Alley.
A row of brownstones in Brooklyn Heights, which has glorious views of Manhattan.
2. Brooklyn, N.Y.:
Manhattan will always be glam central, but we all know Brooklyn is currently where it’s at. So why not skip M island altogether and spend an entire weekend in the ethnically diverse borough that gave birth to New York cheesecake, Nathan’s fries and hipsters.
Stuff to do: Get acclimated to some of Brooklyn’s trendy neighborhoods by taking a Made in Brooklyn Tour. Then grab your walking shoes and subway map and get ready to explore. Must-sees include the gorgeous Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the history-filled MTA-Transit Museum, a wind-in-your-hair excursion on the East River Ferry, and an exhilarating ride on the Coney Island Cyclone, the 16th oldest roller coaster in the world. If you feel like some shopping, browse the trendy boutiques along Fifth and Seventh avenues in Park Slope, the mom-and-pop stores on Atlantic Avenue in Cobble Hill, or the high-end shops along the cobblestoned streets of DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). If vintage goodies are more your thing, visit the bustling weekend market Brooklyn Flea, which has two locations in Fort Greene and Williamsburg. After watching the sun go down from—where else?—Sunset Park, check out Brooklyn’s burgeoning Indie Rock scene at Music Hall of Williamsburg or Pete’s Candy Store.
Where to stay: There’s no better location than Williamsburg in which to plant yourself for a couple nights. Comfy beds, trendy decor and a super-central location are what the popular Condor Hotel has to offer. Or check your posse into the Wythe Hotel, whose handsome lobby, loft-style rooms and trendy rooftop bar overlooking the Manhattan skyline set the tone for a relaxed, stylish weekend.
What to eat and drink: Williamsburg newcomerThe Heyward is generating buzz for its Southern-inspired menu, sleek decor and inventive cocktails; with its tin ceilings and vintage-y decor, the place is as Brooklyn as it gets. Another fun choice is Carroll Gardens favorite Alma, whose modern-Mexican menu includes everything from chicken mole to chilaquiles, and whose potent cocktails make the gorgeous views of the Manhattan skyline even more stunning.
Excellent shopping, food and nightlife make Paris the perfect girlfriend destination.
Yes, for this excursion we’re sending you across the pond to a town that has a reputation as the ultimate lovers destination. But Paris—with its spectacular sites and unparalleled shopping, food and nightlife—can also set the scene for a kick-ass girls weekend. Whether you spend more time on the artsy Left Bank (Rive Gauche) or the more classy Right Bank, you’re destined for a fun time in the City of Light.
Stuff to do: Conquer Paris by foot or metro, but either way get started early because there’s so much to see. On the Right Bank, walk the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe, and from the Paris Opera (home of the Phantom) to Place de La Concorde, where the guillotine took Marie-Antoinette’s life. Visit the Mona Lisa at the Louvre and the impressive impressionists at the Musée D’Orsay. Then spend a little time around Place Vendôme for some expensive retail therapy. The next day, tap into the rich bohemian past of the Left Bank’s charming Latin Quarter. Stroll along Boulevard Saint-Germain, where Sonia Rykiel, Yves Saint Laurent and other designer boutiques await you. Pop into Le Bon Marché, the quintessential Parisian department store, to purchase the Paris-shopping-list trifecta: shoes, perfume and lingerie. Before you leave, pick up some picnic fare in the food hall and lunch on the lawn of the nearby Jardin du Luxembourg. Finally, take an elevator to the top of the iconic Eiffel Tower, in the 7th Arondissement, and wind down with a cruise along the Seine, where you’ll see all the city’s famous bridges, including the oldest, Pont Neuf.
Where to stay: The legendary Hotel Ritz Paris, home to Coco Chanel in 1934, is unfortunately closed for renovations until mid-2015. So if you’re heading to Paris before the grand reopening, book a room at the equally regal Plaza Athénée, a posh yet hip hangout between the Champs-Élysées and Eiffel Tower. For a more downtown experience, stay at Five Hotel in the artsy 5th Arrondisement, a modern hotel featuring space-age suites with large bathrooms, private patios and hot tubs.
What to eat and drink: If you’re heading to the chic shopping neighborhood the Marais, put down your bags and lunch at a neighborhood cafe such as Chez Camille. If you’ve just braved the museum crowds, treat yourself to something sweet at Angelina on the Rue du Rivoli, known for its romantic Belle Epique decor and heavenly hot chocolate.For dinner, try La Rotonde on the boulevard de Montparnasse, an Art Deco cafe Hemingway mentioned in The Sun Also Rises, or Joël Robuchon’s famed L’Atelier in Saint-Germain, featuring a circular bar and a custom menu. Paris nightlife picks up late in the evening, and if you’re a jazz lover, check out Le Caveau de la Huchette in the Latin Quarter or Le Speakeasy piano bar in the 16th Arrondissement. Intellectual types may prefer La Belle Hortense, a cool bookstore/wine bar, and party girls will adore World Place, a dance club owned by Johnny Depp, John Malkovich and Sean Penn.
Head to Scottsdale for the picturesque views and fun sightseeing. Photo courtesy of the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau
4. Scottsdale, Ariz.
From the moment the sun rises over the Sonoran Desert until long after it sets, Scottsdale offers the perfect blend of adventure and relaxation. Spa treatments, outdoor activities and laid-back bars will feed your group’s need for both excitement and party time.
Stuff to do: If there’s one thing you and your girls do in Scottsdale—besides lounge next to the pool—it’s visit one of the town’s luxurious day spas, many of which are housed within posh resorts. From the prickly pear sugar scrub and crushed-pearl mani-pedi at Golden Door at Boulders to the 24-karat gold facial at the Spa at Gainey Village, there’s a relaxing treatment to suit everyone’s taste. If getting up early seems possible, take a sunrise hot air balloon ride for spectacular views of the desert, or hike the trailheads at Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Hop on a free trolley to explore downtown and the waterfront, and hop off at Old Town to stroll the cute fashion boutiques, antique shops and art galleries. For some offbeat fun, take the Magical History Tour at Hotel Valley Ho and learn about Old Hollywood architecture. Finally, head back to your hotel—or someone else’s hotel—to swim and sunbathe. The water park at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale and the after-dark techno slide with disco lights at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess are standouts.
Where to stay: The 53-acre Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa offers luxurious casitas with spectacular views, an Asian-inspired spa and an infinity pool. For the ultimate in old-world luxury, stay at the Phoenician, whose stately rooms, 10 restaurants, golf course, spa and luxury amenities set the tone for a glamorous weekend. Bigger groups can easily spread out in one the Phoenician’s elegant and spacious Canyon Suites.
What to eat and drink: Enjoy breakfast on a sun-drenched patio surrounded by butterflies at the cozy Cafe Monarch, whose tiny but delicious menu allows you to choose either a “sweet” or “savory” option. Tucked away in the Bespoke Inn in Old Town, elegant newcomer Virtù dishes out Mediterranean-inspired dishes with a Southwestern zest. Proof, at the Four Seasons at Troon North, serves up chicken with waffles, spiked root-beer floats and other comfort food in a lively canteen setting. After dinner, grab one of the inventive cocktails at Salt Lounge, then catch a flick at t iPic Theater, which doles out complimentary popcorn, wine and beer.
Vegas allows you to see several cities in one shot. Here, the New York-New York Hotel & Casino on the Strip.
5. Las Vegas:
OK, so the whole “Vegas, baby” thing may be a little cliché. But for some of you, Vegas is still the ultimate party destination. Every year something new and outrageous pops up in this quirky town, making it endlessly exciting.
Where to stay:The Cromwell, with its sexy vibe and guest rooms styled like nouveau bordellos, has one of the best locations on the Strip—not to mention an all-day beverage service offered on each floor of the hotel. The ultra-modern Cosmopolitan (or the “Cosmo,” as it’s affectionately called) has established itself as one of the trendiest spots in Vegas. The resort features large rooms with chic furnishings, a spa and three pools, one of which converts into a nightclub. Checking in guests using an iPad is just one of the ways this hotels remains hip and current.
What to eat and drink: Emmy-Award winning celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis has opened her first-ever restaurant, Giada, inside The Cromwell. This charming Las Vegas restaurant boasts a California-style menu, a cozy outdoor patio with views of the Bellagio fountains, and a very long waitlist—so make your reservations far in advance. Newcomer Cleo will make you feel like an Egyptian princess with its pyramid-shaped entrance, emerald-green curtains, Moroccan tiles and chandeliers—not to mention Chef Danny Elmaleh’s scrumptious seasonal mezzes, flatbreads and handcrafted infusions.
Have fun choosing your next girls weekend destination—and let us know where you’re headed!
Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah was the "garden of good and evil" depicted in the book and film. Photo by STEVEN JO
It’s been two decades since John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil put Savannah, Georgia, in the spotlight. Unveiling a host of quirky characters in the telling of an infamous murder trial, the book was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and became the longest standing New York Times best seller in history. By the time it was made into a movie directed by Clint Eastwood in 1997, everybody who’d read it wanted to visit Savannah—and see for themselves all the eccentric personalities and mysterious places depicted on its pages.
During a recent visit to this historic coastal town, I noticed that what made Savannah famous before Midnight‘s publication—the stately antebellum homes, the abundant squares, the artists and jazz musicians that breathe life into the downtown area—was still intact. But what about the darker and more enigmatic aspects of Savannah that drew folks into Berendt’s story and gave the city a more lurid allure? And what about the real-life characters and colorful sites that fans attempted to track down through the years? … //READ MORE
It wasn’t long into our relationship when my then-boyfriend, now husband, asked me if I would ever consider living in his native England. While trying to play down my initial “holy crap, this might just be serious” reaction, I immediately answered with a solid yes. Fast forward a few years and a couple of kids later and you couldn’t drag my card-carrying, U.S. citizen husband off American soil. The great weather and excellent job opportunities of the Bay Area had sucked him in for good. … //READ MORE