My mom is on a big work trip this week (Paris in the summer, je suis très jalouse), and the night before she left, she was doing all the last minute things we do before we fly. And by “we”, I mean us girls.
I don’t want to paint with a broad brush here but every single part of life is much harder when you’re female. Traveling is no exception. My husband glides through airports like they’re nothing (he has yet to fly with a child by himself) while I have mini panic attacks until I’m safely at my gate. But the difficulty starts before we even get to the airport. When getting ready to travel, there are so many variables to consider, toiletries we can’t pack until the morning of our departure, and of course, picking the perfect travel outfit. This is important because you want to be comfortable and you also want to be prepared for the plane to be an oven or an igloo. But I’ll add a third requirement here: you want to be confident. Flying can be stressful, especially so when traveling with kids, and I think any extra boost you can give yourself can only help.
First, let’s address the comfort. The night before she left, my mom was asking to help pick her airport/plane outfit and I shared my one hard and fast rule: no zippers. This basically boils down to no jeans (I’ll make a tiny exception for overalls and high waisted jeans but that’s it). Zippers are constricting and all you want to do is unzip them and I would hope that we all know that airports and planes are public places and not our bedrooms (PSA: airports and planes are public places and not our bedrooms). So what’s the alternative to jeans? Leggings and maxi skirts are the perfect solutions because they stretch and basically feel like pajamas but you don’t have to feel the little twinge of shame that always comes with wearing pjs in public.
The only way to prepare for the unpredictability of cabin temperatures is to bring layers. I almost always wear shorts sleeves as the base because then I have the most flexibility. Long cardigans and chambray shirts are my favorites to keep warm or tie around my waist to keep cool.
Comfort and coziness are really the only concerns to have when dressing your kids for the flight, as well. Whatever will limit complaining and be easy for them to move around in.
Now, let’s talk about confidence.
You don’t need to look fancy or dress up or try to impress a thousand strangers. I’m always in complete awe when I see these glamorous women in full makeup and heels going through security. How do they do it? There are really people who are comfortable in jeans? I don’t know how it’s possible. For me, it’s nothing about being perfectly styled. There are little things we do every day to help ourselves feel more confident. For me? It’s painting my nails red when I have to give a talk in church or putting together a cute bracelet stack or the perfect statement necklace as a piece of armor. Maybe for you it’s winged eyeliner or a lucky hair tie or simply being extra prepared. Maybe it’s saying a prayer or watch by a motivational TED Talk or listening to a podcast on girl power. Why not apply this to traveling?
My thought has always been that when you put forth effort into something, you feel good about yourself. So taking the time before you leave to put something together can make the rest of the experience feel less frantic and last minute. And on top of making this effort, we naturally feel good when we like how we look. It’s a double investment in yourself.
You can’t do anything about the narrow seats, the slightly terrifying turbulence, or the crying baby in your row, or most likely in your lap. You can’t control the experience, especially as a mom, but you can curate it. You can feel comfortable, cozy, and confident.