Traveling in style is a state of mind.
When I think ‘traveling in style’ I think stacks of Louis Vuitton luggage, a smart peacoat, kitten heels, and a cute little hat.
While this dolled up vision is aesthetically admirable, what it signifies to me really is a sense of control, of poise, of un-rushed-ness.
When I travel I like to make every part of the journey a stretched-out and lavish event.
Every heroine needs her favourite spot by the train station.
I have a fear of being late. At school when we had 10 minute breaks between classes, I would first navigate to my next class before sitting down with my book. It’s the same mentality with travel – I prefer to get to the station hours in advance, and to make this process as pleasurable as possible.
A favourite pre-travel ritual of mine is to meet a friend for coffee and breakfast on the way to the train station [or by the tram on the way to the airport].
While the station itself is rammed with passengers squeezing their luggage into Starbucks, I like to look just outside instead.
A well-travelled woman has her pre-travel rituals, location-specific to whichever vessel is taking her on her next adventure.
Here are a few of my favourites, ‘at the station’, or just outside:
- By Edinburgh Waverly Station, I’ll stop by Baba Budan for espresso and doughnuts, or Fruitmarket Gallery for a light lunch and culture fix.
- By the York Place tram stop on the way to Edinburgh Airport, I’ll stop by Fortitude for their own roasted coffee, or The Basement for a taste of Mexico.
- On the way to London Euston Station, I’ll stop at Store Street Espresso for coffee and breakfast.
- Before catching the train from London King’s Cross I’ll stop at Caravan or Drink Shop Do, and allow plenty of time to swing by the Platform 9 3/4 shop for Fairtrade chocolate (thanks Harry Potter Alliance!) and browsing for house pride accessories. It feels extra magical to take the train from King’s Cross to Scotland with wizarding sweets, I must say.
- If flying from Paris Charles de Gaulle, I arrive early to play their free arcade games (YES REALLY. Paris’s geek chic is such an underreported story) and pick up a macaron to go.
- London Heathrow Airport also has a Ladurée counter. The perfect sized snack for a layover.
- At London Stansted Airport, my spot is Joe & the Juice.
- Delayed at Washington Dulles Airport for 5 hours, we ditched Terminal C (which has &Pizza, for future reference) for the much more pleasant and spacious Terminal B, which has Five Guys and Dior.
- And don’t forget to take advantage of first class lounges if you have access to them!
Start a pre-travel tradition.
I love inviting a friend to meet at the station before I travel, but when they are off on an adventure I ask them to meet before. I’m happy to watch their bags while they collect tickets and such, and I get to sample a bit of wanderlust fairy dust by seeing them off.
When I visit my parents in Boston, my mom and I have a tradition to stop at the MFA before my flight. After loading up my bags in the morning, we peruse the galleries, enjoy lunch in the courtyard, then head off to Logan Airport.
If Steve and I have an early morning plane to catch, we make a dinner reservation the night before. This gives us a soft deadline to be packed and ready to go before enjoying dining out. This saves us the hassle of cooking and cleaning up, and gives us an earlier packing deadline in the form of a pre-travel treat.
Tuck your flat into bed.
After packing my bags, I change the towels and sheets, feed the plants, generally tidy, and empty bins. When I return from my travels, it’s to a fresh and tidy abode [although perhaps a bit dusty].
Here’s one I took from Gossip Girl. When Serena and Dan are traveling back to the city from the Hamptons via Jitney, Serena brings a pile of glossy magazines and – get this – a luxurious box of chocolate covered strawberries as her travel snack. Consider the bar raised for travel style inspo.
While Steve finds the First Class upgrade on Virgin Trains utterly worth it [for the legroom and comfy seats], I prefer to travel coach and allocate that extra budget towards fancy snacks. I pick up a basket at M&S and allow myself to select a juice, wrap, snack, and dessert, all for far less than a First Class upgrade.
‘But I have enough to worry about without adding all this extra stuff to do!’
I hear you. Be super ambitious about these rituals. If you don’t have time for them, that’s fine. But it creates a buffer so that the important stuff does get done sooner. And think of it this way: enjoying every morsel of the chocolate cake that is travel prolongs the enjoyment of it.
P.S. My Heroine’s Guide to Packing is coming soon. Sign up to be the first to hear when it’s available!
P.P.S. Let’s put our heads together, heroines, and make the comments section a collection of global resources. What are your favourite outside-the-box favourites near train stations and airports?