Creature Comforts

Last year I went to London with a friend. It was a milestone birthday for her, and she was pulling out all the stops. Normally I choose midtier hotels, but she wanted to stay at a fancy boutique property she had read about in a magazine. She was taking care of the hotel, so who was I to disagree?

A few weeks before we were set to travel, she forwarded me a questionnaire the hotel had sent regarding room preferences. I looked at the list and was immediately sure they had confused me with a celebrity who had backstage demands. More than just wanting to know my bed and pillow preference, they wanted to know things like what type of music I’d like to be playing when I returned to my room each night (slow jams, of course), what my favorite color was (I put down cerulean blue because it sounded sophisticated) and even my favorite hobby (Does eBay count?, I asked).

Comfort in a Carry-on

Sometimes comfort means just having the things you’re familiar with. Even the smallest carry-on can pack a few staples. Here’s what’s usually in mine:

• Neck pillow (not the inflatable kind)
• A shawl (it’s easier than a jacket to take off and put on)
• A few packets of calming tea
• A bottle of water (purchased once inside security)
• A toothbrush
• A small container of lotion

At the time, I couldn’t believe half of the stuff would be relevant, but in retrospect, it makes perfect sense. They just wanted to make me comfortable while I was away from home. I was doing the same thing for myself, after all. Here’s how:

As I prepared to leave, I took advantage of recent technology. I put a copy of my passport and driver’s license in a secure virtual mailbox. I also went online and let my credit card company know I would be out of the country. And after turning on my international plan, I loaded my smartphone with my boarding passes and loyalty cards. I even loaded travel apps to make us look a little less touristy when we made our way from the Left Bank to the National Gallery. Along with other travel necessities, my checked bag contained a few family pictures and items only available in the States.

Once on board, I replaced my comfy travel shoes with even more comfortable slippers. I was already wearing loose-fitting clothes, so no worries there. Then, during the flight, I made sure to drink plenty of water and get up once in a while to stretch and walk around a bit. All in all, we arrived in London feeling prepared and, well, comfortable. And as promised, each night when I arrived back in my room I was met with the sounds of what my turndown maid deemed “slow jams.”And that, along with everything else, made me feel comfortable.

MICHELLE RENEAU has three trips planned for October. You might just be sitting next to her now.

DID YOU KNOW: American also keeps track of your flight preferences online? You can list them in your traveler profile. 

How can we improve our site?