#tips&tricks; what to bring onboard

So you’ve got your airplane outfit planned, what’s next? Whether you’re checking a bag or carrying on, the bag you bring onboard that goes under your seat is critical to comfort and happiness on a flight. I like to think of this bag as my survival bag; anything I need to survive a flight, whether it’s 3 hours or 13 hours, is in that bag. Of course your carry-on is available to you, however nothing worse that watching a movie or taking a nap and the asshole on the aisle rummaging through their bag above you trying to find something. I pride myself on being an easy-going, courteous, spatially aware, traveller. It only takes that one time and that one fellow traveller to ruin your flight, thus getting your trip off to an unfortunate start. Be that courteous passenger for yourself and everyone around you!

The bag itself should be tote-bag or backpack sized. Nothing too large or the flight attendants will make you put it overhead.

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What should you pack in this bag of magic tricks? Here are some ideas…

  • blanket
  • eye-shades
  • headphones / earbuds
  • wet wipes / makeup removing wipes
  • toothbrush & toothpaste*
  • book, kindle, magazines
  • ipad*
  • tissues
  • gum
  • usb charging chord
  • Advil
  • tampons
  • face moisturizer / hand moisturizer*
  • chapstick / lip gloss*
  • socks
  • pen
  • extra hair-ties
  • nail file**
  • bottle of water, that you got after you went through security

*Be mindful of liquid product sizes, including creams, as all airlines still only allow 3.4 oz also, some flights to the Middle East from US and UK, now have electronic restrictions, be aware of the carry-on restrictions before you pack
**DO NOT do your nails on the plane, but in case you break, you have a file to fix

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If you’re checking a bag and making a connection, where you bag remains checked the entire way to your final destination, pack a change of clothes or at the least a pair of underwear. I know that sounds ridiculous, but should your bag not make it to your final destination with you, at least you have a spare outfit or spare pair of knickers to hold you over. If you’re going to a tropical location, pack your bathing suit as well. Worse case scenario, you hang out in the pool until your luggage arrives!

Some products I love and bring with me everywhere I go…

  • Lip Medex – best chapstick ever
  • BumBum Cream – thick and hydrating, with a slight shimmer and it smells amazing
  • Moroccan Oil – I flatiron my hair daily, so helps to hydrate my ends
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Definer – I fill in my brows, so I always keep an extra on hand to fix any smudges created by my sleep mask (nothing worse than walking through the airport with only one eyebrow)

Most of your favorite beauty products can be found in travel sizes at my favorite store on the planet, Sephora. I’ll get into all the wonderful products and makeup I take on my trips (yup, even work trips) in another post, but I thought this would be a good start!

Happy Travels! {pL}

#tips&tricks are little extras about random travel things you may not think of before you go on your next adventure. Any questions, message me;  erica {at} breakingheadsproductions {dot} com.

#theAdventure; Ostuni, Italy

The two year anniversary of the hashtag #theadventuresofpennylane was on March 26, so I thought it was only fitting that the trip that inspired it, should be my next post.

IMG_0986A year after I started my first job in television, I would be on my way to Italy. As I mentioned in my introduction post, I was told at my holiday party that I would be traveling for the first time for the show. I was ECSTATIC. I can honestly say my wanderlust was born from this job; working in different parts of the world, even from a desk in New York City, opened my eyes to the fact that I had seen such a small part of the world. Given the opportunity to travel and get paid for it went from a novel idea to the goal in life (more on that to come). With my excitement, though, came fear. At the time I had traveled a bit throughout the US, but had only been out of the country once. One stamp in my passport. I was a baby deer wobbling around on new legs. The fear was mounting. Traveling to a place I had never been before, a language I don’t speak, for a relatively new job. And then I had a moment…WHAT DO I PACK? What was the weather going to be like in March? What do I wear on set every day? What if it rains, should I bring Wellies? Are we going out some nights, do I need a dress? So many questions and not an iota of experience. Luckily, my production manager at the time, swooped in to save the day and my sanity. We talked it out and she helped me create lists. All the lists. It was manic and nerve-wracking. But once my bag was packed and I felt relatively confident that I had everything I would need, I started doing a bit of research on the place I was about to visit.

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Ostuni is a delightful small seaside city, named ‘La Citta Bianca,’ (The White City) situated atop a hill in southeastern Italy (picture the heel part of the boot). As a coastal community, the population can be relatively small in the off season, but swell to 100,000 during the summer (source; Wikipedia). Being there in March, it was clearly the off season which I quite liked experiencing with less people around. The most important information to know about Ostuni or Puglia (the region Ostuni is located) is that there is a lot of wine (specifically Primativo) and olive oil made in this region. I am a wine drinker. A red wine drinker. It could be 100 degrees on an August day and I will opt for the red wine, all day every day. The idea that I was going to Italy’s second largest wine producing region, just blew my mind. And had me even more ecstatic about going on this trip.

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Penny Lane’s first glass of Italian wine in Italy; Photo Credit Dave Powitz

What to know about Italy…
Italians are the most friendly people I have encountered in all my travels. Welcoming, friendly, a hug and a kiss. So pleasant. I was very surprised by how many people spoke English in this area, but I did my best to speak as much Italian as I knew, which was not much. Ciao can be hello and goodbye. Grazia means thank you and Prego means you’re welcome. Currency is the Euro. At this time, almost $1 = E1, so the exchange rate is not that different. Still helpful to have xe.com on your phone for those large purchases, to double check the estimated exchange. They don’t have paper notes for 1 or 2 euros, so that was something I had to be aware of, not to toss the change away since it can add up to a fair bit of money. You do not need to tip 20% on your restaurant bill, however leaving the change from your payment is fine. As an American who worked in bars and restaurants through college, it’s hard not to leave 20%. The difference between us and them, is that their waitstaff and bartenders make a normal hourly wage. I still find it very hard to walk away without leaving a good tip, so I usually do anyway. The climate is very similar to ours in the Northeast, US. So in March the temp was a bit chilly, especially since Ostuni is on top a hill, it was windy which made it seem a bit colder than it actually was, but no snow or frost…wasn’t that cold. When the sun was out, it was warm and comfortable.

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Hanging around; Photo Credit Marcello Maggi

FLIGHT. One of my favorite parts about traveling to Europe is the free wine. Yup, I said it. Fly from NYC to Italia and you get free wine, which is exactly what you need to put you to sleep on an overnight flight. But seriously, Alitalia was a great airline. A bit more expensive because of the airport I traveled in to, but got me to Ostuni with more flight travel time and less ground travel time. There are a lot of airports in Italy, however you will find some are less expensive than others. Why? Size of airport and volume of flights. As a production coordinator, I am looking at several factors when booking a flight for my crew and they are the same factors you should consider as well. Direct flights into one airport might be cheap, but then you have to drive 3 hours to get to the town you’re actually traveling. Flying into a smaller airport will likely mean a connection in a major city (Rome) and limited flight times. Look at all airport options before you book and use Google Maps. It may not be 100% accurate, but will give you an idea how far / close you are to everything.

  • NOTE: You will need to go through border patrol when connecting in Rome. I had to wait in that horrific line to get my passport stamped before I could connect to my next flight to Brindisi. Not every country operates the same way, so always give yourself enough time to connect (no connection under 1.5 hours, 2 hours if you’re at CDG Paris). You don’t want to miss your next flight because you’re waiting in line. Although, if you let people know you’re connecting and need to jump the line, USUALLY people are cool about it, but don’t expect it. It’s these moments I would give my right arm for that red passport (EU). Seriously, the quickest lines ever and they walk through all smug! Someday I’ll have that passport too 😉

 

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HOTEL. Just like any seaside area, the off-season is a cheaper time to stay. Hotel Rione Antico La Terra was a great price and we literally had the entire place to ourselves. Towards the end of the week, a few more guests checked in and we had to be mindful of others while in the common areas, but it was pretty amazing to have the whole place to ourselves. Centrally located, there were boutiques, restaurants and everything you’d want, close by. Rooms were a good size, some had balconies. European beds can be tricky. Sometimes it’s actually a double bed and sometimes it’s two twin beds pushed together. Unfortunately, you can specifically ask for a double bed and they will still give you two twin beds together. Not a huge deal for me, but I’m only 5’1″ so I can sleep on any sized bed!

 

  • NOTE: Hotels charge city tax which will need to be paid upon check out. It’s not a lot, but be aware it is required. Even if you prepay your booking on a site like hotels.com, on the confirmation email you receive there will be a note regarding how much in tax you will need to pay.

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TRANSPORTATION. I arrived after the rest of my crew, so I took a taxi from the airport to Ostuni. I had a moment of panic as I got out of the airport, walked up to the taxi stand and realized they may not speak English! I had the name and address of my hotel pulled up on my phone so I could point! It really is disconcerting to not be able to communicate, but you figure it out!

  • NOTE: Google translate has an app, but BEWARE. Google translate is great for quick thoughts; where is the train station? how much does this cost? etc. If you need more complicated thoughts translated, Google Translate will work, but it will be grammatically incorrect. It always is. For the most part anyone you’re talking to, will understand you don’t speak fluent Italian and likely get the gist of what you’re trying to say.

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SITES / ACTIVITIES. Unfortunately, I was unable to do much exploring on my own, so the only activity listed was something we did as part of the show. Ostuni is situated on the Adriatic Sea, so beaches are a huge attraction. But not in March…

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Seriously, look at the color of that water – Adriatic Sea

Olive Grove. The Puglia region of Italy produces two things, wine and olive oil. In March, the olives are barely visible, as they won’t be harvested until August. No olives to see, however there was plenty of olive oil to try. I’ve never seen so many different types. Of course I brought some home with me and was devastated when I used the last drop.

FOOD & WINE… MY FAVORITE PART ABOUT ITALY! But that should be no surprise. I actually took a lot of photos of food and wine on this trip (WAY TO GO PL!). You will not find a Starbucks, McDonalds in this town. This was one of my favorite parts of Ostuni. The food I ate was Italian. The wine I drank was Italian. The coffee I drank was Italian. The shops I visited were Italian. When in Rome…or Ostuni…do as they do.

THE best red sauce I have ever had in my entire life. I actually lost 5 pounds on this trip, because I was eating less, whole foods (and working 12 hours a day on my feet didn’t hurt either). They don’t process the shit out of everything like we do and much to Olive Gardens dismay, the portions are small, but filling.

We drank as much wine as possible, because it was cheap and delicious! No hangover because it doesn’t have preservatives. It was literally the most perfect drinking and dining experience of any country I have been to thus far.

Gelato, pizza, espresso and limoncello…the great wonders of Italia.

Ostuni is a quaint little Italian town that I highly recommend you visit if you have the chance. As a tourist, I have yet to feel as welcomed anywhere, as I did in this place. I would love to go back during the summer to see just how different the city feels bustling with more people.

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Adriatic Sea feet

STATS.
Season of visit: Spring (March)
Airline: Alitalia
Hotel: Hotel Rione Antico La Terra
Duration: 6 days
Purpose: work

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Crew Photo; Photo Credit Unknown

Each post of #TheAdventuresofPennyLane will strike a balance between how I perceive traveling from a work standpoint and how I perceive traveling from a tourist standpoint. Being a production coordinator for an international television show has helped me be a better tourist because I know more. My goal for this blog is to pass on a bit of the info I have collected along the way, so if you have questions or want more info about a specific trip please email me;  erica {at} breakingheadsproductions {dot} com.

All photos take by me, unless otherwise credited.