Laurel House is a Fit Living Expert, three-time published author, nationally recognized print and online magazine writer (Men’s Journal, Elegant Bride, Fit, Spa, Elite Traveler, Playboy, PlanetGreen), “Fit Life” Expert for Your Shape for Kinect on Xbox360, and the QuickieChick. Beyond writing, Laurel has appeared as an expert on television morning shows including the Today Show weekend, Daily Buzz, BetterTV, KTLA Morning News, CBS, Fox, NBC, and ABC Morning News both locally and nationally. Her new book “QuickieChick’s Cheat Sheet to Life, Love, Food, Fitness, Fashion, and Finance on Less than a Fabulous Budget” (St. Martin’s, May 2012) provides quickie tips for fast-paced chicks. So don’t tell her that you don’t have time… because there’s always time for a quickie.
Cheapflights: You’re all about LifeQuickies. Any TravelQuickies for our readers?
Laurel House: While you are seeing the sites and immersing yourself into a new environment, and sometimes culture and language, maintaining some of your routines from home will help make your trip less stressful and more enjoyable. A few musts when it comes to your routine:
Sleep. Whatever helps you sleep at home, bring it along when you travel too (if you can). I can’t sleep without an eye pillow, so I make sure that it’s the first thing I pack (I also bring emergency “Calm” powder packets and ear plugs). If you can’t sleep on a feather pillow, but that’s what is on the bed at your hotel, call housekeeping and ask for a foam pillow. Hotels generally stock both, you just have to ask. The amount and quality of your sleep can have a huge effect on the quality and enjoyment of your trip.
Beauty. With the carry-on liquids in a baggie rule, it’s easy to buy travel size products of our beauty regimen necessities. The problem is that, especially if you have sensitive skin or tangle-prone hair, you don’t want to switch your skin and hair care products now (the last thing you want is a breakout or rash from foreign products). Instead, buy mini empty containers and fill them with your regular products. Once I arrive at the destination I have my trusty products, but I also love to explore what the locals do (if there is a local beauty treatment or tradition). It’s just another way to experience the place. In Switzerland I tested out the Kneipp cold springs. It was awesome and added to my experience as a whole.
Vitamins. If you take regular vitamins, herbs, or pills, don’t forget to pack them! Now isn’t the time to test if you “really” need that anxiety pill that you have been popping for the last year.
CF: What is an absolute must on your packing list?
LH: As a travel writer, one of the first things you learn is to never, or almost never, check luggage. I have gone on two-week trips to Europe and carried on! And while I definitely am careful about space in my bag (considering how limiting one carry-on, plus one personal item can be), there are a few musts on my packing list:
Eye pillow. So that I get a good night sleep
A pair of sexy underwear. Even if I am going on a girl’s trip, because you never know.
Flip camera. I am super into video documenting my trips; brings my memories to life later.
Flip Flops. Even if I am going to a ski resort. They are great to walk around in the room or down the hall to get a coffee in the morning.
Herban Essentials Lavender Hand Towelette. It’s a natural anti-bacterial hand wipe that smells amazing and can be used to clean the remote control or hotel phone, as well as give your face a freshen up on the plane.
CF: What’s your routine before you fly?
LH: Before I leave my house I do a bag check. I actually say out loud: “Underwear, bras, socks, running shoes.” Those are the items that I have forgotten in the past. Then I make sure I have all of my in-flight essentials easily accessible in my under-seat bag. Finally I shut off the lights in the house, unplug unnecessary electronics (to stay green), lock and bolt the door.
As I am getting on the plane, I do have one weird thing I do… and that’s a tap tap. I touch both sides of the airplane entrance before stepping foot across the threshold. It’s an odd little quirk, but I used to be scared of flying and it’s one thing that works for me. Then as soon as I am in my seat, I call my mom to wish me a “fly safe.” If she isn’t available, I call someone else. They have to say those words exactly – “fly safe.” If no one is available, I say it to myself under my breath.
CF: Any tips on researching a new destination before taking off?
LH: While, of course, I go online, I do still love to look through travel books at the bookstore. I can sit on the floor and flip through books for hours! I also collect Travel & Leisure magazine. Whenever an issue comes out featuring a destination that I am interested in eventually traveling to, I buy it and put it in my “travel drawer.” I also clip out articles from other magazines and newspapers, or print articles from the computer on travel destinations that I want to go to. I keep those in a travel folder. Online, I go to Travel & Leisure’s website as well as my friend Johnny Jet’s website (he has traveled pretty much EVERYwhere and is my go-to).
CF: Who’s the most memorable seatmate (or what’s the most memorable conversation) you’ve had on a plane?
LH: I tend to be the person who immediately puts my earplugs in the moment I sit down, but on occasion I have engaged in conversation with my seatmate. Once I was seated next to a seriously good looking guy, and while I really did actually want to talk to him, I had so much work to do (I get my best writing done on the planes), so I did my best to focus. But apparently he was intrigued by the speed in which I typed and my apparent passion for what I was writing. He finally asked what I was writing, and that was pretty much the end of working on that flight. BUT we had such a fun and engaging conversation that we stayed in contact after the flight and ended up dating for a few months. What’s interesting about talking to people on planes is that you often have very intimate and honest conversations, revealing much more about yourself than you normally would to a stranger because you don’t think you will ever see them again. It’s almost like how you would speak with your hair stylist. Plus you get their outsider’s opinion. It’s almost like therapy.
CF: Do you have a routine for staying healthy when you travel?
LH: I’m all about Quickies – Quickie Workouts! There are tons of pre-flight exercises that you can do when waiting to board, like carry-on bag curls, wall sits, heel lifts, or just walking around the terminal. There are also great Mile High Quickies like butt squeezes, ab crunches, knee raises, and hovering. I also have a full series of Quickie Workouts in Bed and in the Hotel that I do in the hotel. For traditional workouts, I LOVE yoga. It’s the perfect vacation workout because you can do it in your hotel room or even on the beach. I make up my own routines. I also like to explore the destination that I have traveled to by walking. Forget sightseeing in your car; ask the concierge for the best walking routes. You get in some exercise and get acquainted with the place at the same time. Plus, there are other ways to indulge on vacation and not gain weight.
CF: How do you discover local or off-the-beaten-path places?
LH: Once I arrive to the destination, I generally will go to a local café, coffee shop, or famer’s market and ask the locals where the best places to go are. I am a serious foodie, which is why I get my local insight from foodie places, but if you are into art, then go to an art museum and ask the employees or the people who look like regulars (as opposed to tourists).
CF: Is there a destination that without fail (barring floods and famine) you visit regularly?
LH: New York. I travel to New York a lot for work. The publisher for my book “QuickieChick’s Cheat Sheet to Life, Love, Food, Fitness, Fashion and Finance on a Less than Fabulous Budget” (St. Martin’s, May 2012) is there. I love strolling around Tribeca and walking along the Hudson. I have even walked all the way from Tribeca to Central Park. It’s a very long walk, but I love it!
Austin, Texas. I love Lake Austin Spa Resort. It is perfect for mother/daughter getaways, girls’ getaways, couples getaways, even alone. You pretty much wear a robe the entire time (even to dinner!) unless you are taking one of the many exercise classes.
Santa Barbara, California. It’s my exhale.
Cortes Island, Canada. There is a resort there called Hollyhock. It’s a wellness retreat. This is not a luxury resort. But it is luxury for the soul. I have been by myself several times. It’s where I go when I need to reset, refuel, recharge.
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