Traveling With Stephanie: Entry 1

Stephanie’s travel tales are a rollercoaster of excitement, from conquering airport anxiety to unexpected encounters. Join her on adventures filled with wardrobe crises, sweet cravings, and quick thinking under pressure. Read to find out about her experience, what she learned and now, her advice. 

Entry 1: Everyone needs a blazer

Traveling can be overwhelming for many people. The thought of being on a plane, 30,000 feet above the ground can bring on fears one can’t imagine. Navigating through an airport, especially one you have never been to, can create anxiety. Knowing what to pack can make a person break into hives. 

I began traveling for work consistently in 2003. I remember the feeling of excitement before jetting off to LA or New York. I remember feeling a different level of sophistication since I usually traveled by car to meet with clients. And I remember the feeling of anticipation as I had to plan exactly what I was going to take with me. Typically, I would try on dozens of “fits” before the perfect ones were selected (even the bras had to be precise), including the airplane attire. The funny thing is, over 20 years later, my routine remains the same. However, I try to be smarter with my choices.

The first time I traveled to LA for business still makes me laugh out loud. I took the morning flight out and returned on the red eye because I didn’t want to miss an extra day away from my kids. I thought I was a bad ass walking through the airport in my khaki-colored slacks and white blouse, neatly tucked in with a dark blazer to polish off my look. I believed in dress for success (still do) and was ready to take on my clients (even though my stomach was swarming with butterflies!). I was prepared and felt good.

The flight from Detroit to LA typically is 4.5 hours. Without food, I would not have functioned properly.  I picked up a salad from the airport Coney Island as it was the least messy to eat on the plane (I don’t use much dressing). I also grabbed a dark chocolate bar for my little treat (that sweet tooth can be a killer).

I sat in my window seat and organized my things. I knew I would start my lunch about halfway through the trip, being close to lunchtime. I positioned my salad so it would be easy to reach for and I would not have to contort my body into the person next to me to handle the bag. I took my chocolate bar and placed it on my seat, next to my purse. A man sat in the middle and as he settled in his seat and smiled, I thought this is going to be an easy flight.

I read my book then ate my salad as planned. The gentleman next to me sparked conversation as I was eating, making time go by quickly. After finishing my salad, I dove into my chocolate bar to satisfy my craving. I opened the wrapper and the foil and broke off two squares of chocolate. I offered my seatmate a piece, but he refused. I wrapped the foil around the bar and placed it next to my leg and continued to talk.

The plane landed and I was grateful for feeling satiated as well as feeling ready for my meeting. We reached the jetway and the bell sounded to signal us to remove our seatbelts and be ready to exit the plane. My “friend” and I wished each other a good trip and I began packing my things. As I handled the candy bar, I noticed the chocolate was pretty mushy and slightly melted. As carefully as I could, I lifted the chocolate contents into the airplane “sick” bag, praying not to get chocolate on my shirt or pants. I looked down relieved to see I was in the clear.

I wish I could say my back-side looked as fresh as my front side. I checked the seat to make sure I didn’t leave anything and noticed the dark chocolate stain. I Instantly realized I was doomed. I reached behind my legs to feel if that same chocolate which had been blurred into the creases of the leather seat was going to look like you know what, on my pants. Without a doubt, as I touched my thigh, near the crease, below the seat, my fingers felt the warm, and now creamy, chocolate. My look went from a smart businesswoman to a train wreck who can’t control their bowels.

I took my blazer off and wrapped it around my waist, my face beet red. I could only look down and had to make it to that bathroom as soon as possible while wondering how I was going to clean myself, rent my car and make my meeting on time. I had no extra clothes with me and no time to purchase a new pair of pants. I took paper -towel, you know the hard, brown ones that don’t absorb water, and tried to wet as many as I could. I went into the stall, undressed, and used every muscle in my body to get that brown gunk out of my pants. I was not successful.

I stood in the stall, talking to myself about the next steps. I couldn’t panic and had to pull it together. I had no options but to get into my rental car and go the meeting, which is exactly what I did. I may not have looked like success, but I sure smelled sweet!

My piece of advice…always wear black when traveling on a plane and always bring something extra for those special moments.

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