Bestselling author Mireille Guiliano on how to make your journey as pleasant an experience as your destination
Regardless of where I'm going or the length of my stay, I never check my luggage. I've seen my share of missing bags ruin a relaxing vacation and complicate a business trip. Wrinkle-free clothes are perfect for traveling; my favorites are Issey Miyake clothes, which fold into the size of a handkerchief, never wrinkle and can be washed and dried in no time. For a long summer stay in Provence, which includes two fancy events and a grand wedding, the carry-on won't do so I'll ship gowns, purses and shoes early via international mail carrier. If you plan ahead and ship the items early, it is very cost effective, especially nowadays when they charge you a fee to check just one bag! Add that to the ability to pass out of an airport without delay at the baggage carousel and you've saved yourself a ton of stress.
Never eat on a plane (unless absolutely necessary).http://www.wowowow.com/wp-content/uploads/2010_0409_ss_airplane_food.jpg.jpg
This is my golden rule of travel. For the majority of us, even when flying seven or eight hours to Europe, this is very manageable. Airline food is processed and packaged junk, riddled with sodium, a bad contributor to the already dehydrating conditions on an airplane – sugars, trans-fats and saturated fats. And though it might look different, served on a ceramic plate with a glass of sparkling wine, business or first-class fare is no different. I eat before I get on the plane and bring a banana, a small bag of nuts, dried fruit or some hard cheese as a snack – what Frenchwomen call our en cas – and I save my appetite for a great meal once I reach my destination.
Learn to streamline your travel process, especially if you're on-the-go a lot.http://www.wowowow.com/wp-content/uploads/2010_0409_ss_organized_travel.jpg.jpg
I learned years ago never to fly at peak hours. Traffic in most major cities around rush hour is impossible to predict – and getting stuck in it en route to the airport is terribly stressful. Coordinate your departure and, if possible, your arrival time, during off-peak hours. Always keep your travel documents in precisely the same place, for ease of retrieval while traveling. You will be asked for proper ID and ticket many times throughout your commute. The key to smooth travel is order, organization and discipline – keep detailed lists if you need to. If you are a hopeless packer, I recommend reading he is wonderfully fanatical (and sound) on travel preparation and compartmentalization.
Don't sacrifice style for comfort.http://www.wowowow.com/wp-content/uploads/2010_0409_ss_shoes.jpg.jpg
These days everyone dresses for a flight with one idea in mind: comfort. I myself subscribe to this theory; however, I believe you don't have to sacrifice style for comfort (I've seen grown women traveling in their pajamas!). From my mother I learned that you should always dress well because you never know whom you will run into! This is especially true when you are traveling for business, as your coworkers are likely to be traveling in and out of the same hub. My standard outfit for a trip is a long cashmere sweater, a camisole or nice blouse, leggings and ballet flats or loafers. Simple, classy and comfortable – perfect for long flights and looking chic upon arrival. I suggest bringing a thin sweater on an airplane regardless of season – the AC is on high at all times.
Create your own soundtrack.http://www.wowowow.com/wp-content/uploads/2010_0409_ss_woman_earphones.jpg.jpg
I never leave home without my iPod, which is filled with relaxing classical music and my Italian lessons. I like to use my time to enjoy the music I love and nourish my mind, instead of "zoning out."
A good book is the ultimate travel companion.http://www.wowowow.com/wp-content/uploads/2010_0409_ss_books.jpg.jpg
I like to read books about the countries and places I love and plan on visiting. It's a great idea to bring a book about the culture of your destination, whether a novel, a history or even a travel guide; reading about the place you are visiting can bring a newfound appreciation to your experience.
Drink plenty of water.http://www.wowowow.com/wp-content/uploads/2010_0409_ss_water.jpg.jpg
Flying is very dehydrating, and travel is tiring. In fact, the longer the airline flight, the higher the altitude and the drier the cabin air is. I usually drive the stewardesses nuts. I say to them, "You can either bring me the bottle of water or you will have to refill it a million times!" Drink at least one glass of water for every hour in the air, and remember to hydrate before and after your flight as well.
Get situated upon arrival.http://www.wowowow.com/wp-content/uploads/2010_0409_ss_map_french_metro.jpg.jpg
Finally there! When I first arrive in a new city, I have a little routine. I'll walk around the hotel area, see the main sights nearby and find a few good restaurants. If I'm on a tight schedule and know I won't have more than a few hours of free time, I have the concierge arrange for a private guide or tour. It is amazing how much you can see and learn and how much more enjoyable a city can become with just a little context. And while the service might cost a bit extra, it won't break the bank, especially when compared with the cost of the airfare, hotel and restaurants – it is perhaps the most cost-effective, benefit-rich expense of the trip. I count it as one of my special indulgences.
Don't let yourself go completely.http://www.wowowow.com/wp-content/uploads/2010_0409_ss_woman_walking.jpg.jpg
Just because you're on vacation, or dining out constantly with clients on a business trip, doesn't mean you have to throw the equilibrium you work hard for out the window. Walk as much as you can while traveling – it's often the best way to see a city. Be sensible and plan ahead with your meals. Rather than deprive myself, I just balance. I won't resist a heavenly gelato for a late afternoon snack when in Italy, but if I do have it, I'll skip dessert with my meal that evening. It's all in the planning and prevention.
Leave yourself some room to breathe.http://www.wowowow.com/wp-content/uploads/2010_0409_ss_beach_relax.jpg.jpg
When most people travel, they feel they have to fill every moment of every day. They don't know how to relax. Try to travel just how you [should] eat: slow down, savor every moment and enjoy.
Before I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life, I knew it must somehow involve travel. It’s a goal I can proudly say I’ve accomplished, after so many years of promoting both my champagne and my books all over the world. (I even met my husband of more than 30 years on a weekend jaunt to Istanbul!) But although I love to go places, I dislike the process of it. So over the years, I’ve developed some helpful tricks to make the trip as enjoyable and smooth as possible. Flip through the slideshow above to learn how.
Editor’s Note: The former CEO of Champagne Veuve Cliquot, Mireille Guiliano is the bestselling author of French Women Don’t Get Fat. Her latest book is The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook. Visit her at mireilleguiliano.com.