The Packing List explores how the most experienced travelers carry themselves.
Micaela Erlanger might be the most well-traveled person we know. Her work as a stylist to mega-stars like Lupita Nyong’o, Meryl Streep, Michelle Dockery, and more has her constantly jetting from New York to LA, Paris, and beyond.
This year, she spent a straight two months on the road, doing back-to-back jobs (and squeezing in a vacation) before diving into her own bed for approximately one minute and then jumping on yet another plane.
But with a job that requires as much travel as Erlanger’s, you better believe she has the best routines, airport uniforms, and packing lists in the game—look no further than her recent book, “How to Accessorize, A Perfect Finish to Every Outfit” for a serious how-to on maximizing any look. Immediately before leaving her studio to board a flight to Atlanta, she sat down with Here to divulge her in-flight beauty routine, go-to room service order, and favorite destination to unwind.
So you’re off to Atlanta right after this interview…
At this point, there’s a rhythm and I’m generally pretty calm. Most people think that traveling across the country is exhausting and for me it’s just part of the routine, it’s a ritual. I fly the same airline—Virgin America, domestically, and I prefer Air France or New Zealand when I’m traveling internationally—and I’m generally in the same seat. It’s down to a science. I travel quite a bit so that’s kind of the only way.
How often do you travel?
During award season it varies. It can be as much as once or twice a week, but on average I’d say it’s about once or twice a month, normally New York to LA, but Fashion Week might take me to London, Paris, Milan, and so forth.
Do you have a favorite place you’ve ever been?
I think for work I’d have to say there’s nothing more special than Paris, and I think for pleasure the Italian coast, Amalfi. I mean, that’s where I’d like to spend all my free time.
Do you have free time?
No, what’s that?! Actually, I do make a point of taking a vacation. August is when the industry takes a bit of a break and it’s a good time to reset and regroup.
Tell us more about the specifics of your travel rituals.
I always wear super comfortable clothes on the airplane. All my devices are charged the night before and thank God for Away’s Carry-On with the built in charger, because if I run into a problem, like on those international flights, I always have juice. I never wear makeup on the airplane. I always make sure to bring my go-to products. I love La Prairie, they make an amazing compact that has an eye cream and a lip balm, technically called the Anti Aging Eye and Lip Perfection A Porter, but I call it my “tarmac-to-takeoff.” Travel can be really drying for your skin, and I generally land and have to go straight to work or have to interface with clients, or meet with designers, or go on set and shoot editorials, and so forth, and so you have to look the part.
What about your travel uniform?
I’m in J. Crew, Madewell most days. I always wear sneakers—I can get sporty! I’m pretty classic though, generally speaking. Ballet flats, something easy to slide on and slide off is really important. I’ll be in loose knits or layering pieces, things that you can take on or pile up if you’re getting cold or the plane temperature is wild. I love my Comme des Garcons sweater. Everlane makes really amazing cashmere track pants with matching sweaters. I currently just got a ton of athletic gear from Aerie, which actually has the softest stuff I’ve worn and it’s super comfortable. I turn it out when I’ve got to get dressed up, but let’s keep it real when we’re traveling.
What about your in-flight beauty routine?
I keep it easy because I go fresh-faced, so it’s all about moisturizing. I have Kiehl’s, which I love, and then I use La Prairie across the board: face cream, the eye/lip compact, and the Cellular Cream Blush, which I also use on my lips. I keep a hairbrush and Neutrogena wipes with me just for a quick refresh and I have a little mini flat iron from DryBar if I need to touch up my hair for any reason, but there’s sometimes not enough time for this much maintenance. Normally that happens once you get to the hotel.
How do you pass the time on a flight?
I’m working. People like to watch movies, but that’s not me. If the plane’s Wi-Fi doesn’t work for some reason it’s SOS, but generally speaking I’m connected, I’m on email. Work doesn’t stop, especially because I’m working across so many time zones.
Do you have a favorite hotel?
I love Claridge’s in London, and The Bristol. Oh my God, it’s the most gorgeous hotel. You just don’t want to leave, and they have that funny cat that sits at the front desk. It’s really quite glamorous, and the lobby is always a hoot too. I also really love exploring boutique hotels, like the Providence in Paris—it’s like every room is a little jewel box, they’re so beautifully done.
Are you a room service girl?
Oh yeah, room service is my go-to, but I’m a creature of habit because I have to keep the routine tight. I get up early, hit the gym if I have time, and then I keep it really healthy: egg whites, avocado, turkey bacon, coffee, coffee, coffee.
Do you eat the airplane food?
Only a cheese plate. But I try to eat before I get on the plane. What is hard is the red eye, and the red eye is something that I do far too often, but I’ve gotten really good at falling asleep at the drop of a hat on those flights. Honestly, it’s like I’ve been training for a marathon, and the marathon is the cross country flight, so I’ve just gotten it down to a science at this point.
What’s always in your carry-on?
My passport, because my schedule is so flexible that I might be flying from New York to LA and then I get booked on a job and it takes me to Europe, so sometimes there isn’t the opportunity to come home before you have to go.
What’s the longest you’ve ever been away from home?
Two months. And I will never do it again. Oh my God, it was so intense. I had a really insane award season this year. I was super fortunate to be working with amazing talent, but I was flying back and forth to New York and LA, and then I flew, the night of the Oscars, to Paris where I was for Paris Fashion Week and then all of the market appointments. Then I flew from Paris to Cancun, drove to Tulum, where I stayed at the Sian Ka’an, then went to Lake Coba (this was vacation). Then from Lake Coba back to Cancun to get to Miami for about a week. Then I flew to New York for one day for a shoot, flew back to LA… And then where did I go from there? I don’t remember, but I was gone for just under two months. It was bonkers.
Where do you go to totally unwind?
I’d have to say going to Tulum is probably my God-send because you just unplug. There’s terrible Wi-Fi you really can’t be left to do anything other than relax, and so I try to go always after the award season just to decompress for a week.
What’s your number one travel hack?
I travel with six chargers, and I have global entry—thank goodness for that.
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