Basics reduce the torment of travel

January 11, 1996|By ELSA KLENSCH

However long the flight, there are certain staples that will keep you comfortable while traveling. Your bag should be large enough to carry chewing gum or sugar-free candy, a book to read and your diary. It should also have a pocket large enough to carry your passport, traveler's checks and credit cards. It's a good idea to photocopy these before you go. Leave one copy at home for your records and carry another copy in your suitcase.

The bag you carry on should also contain a small bag for pills (pain reliever and any medication), hand lotion and a tiny mister to spray your face with water. It's most refreshing in the dry air of a plane.

All of these things make it easier for you, no matter what goes wrong. I've found that airline staff often seem tired and harried. If you complain angrily, you get nowhere. If you smile, the results can be most gratifying.

Three basics

* Lightweight raincoat in a dark tone, black or pale neutral. Of course, taupe, navy, camel, black and beige are standbys.

* Big challis wool shawl to throw over a light top in restaurants, planes, cars, for a little extra warmth. Deep red or burgundy is a good choice if it works with your skin tone. It should be lightweight and easy to pack.

* Low- to mid-heel slip-on shoes that are old friends. However long the delays or the trudge from gate to gate, you can walk in comfort.

Three-day business trip

* Gray (for taupe, beige or camel) wool knit pantsuit

* Gray, black and white plaid jacket

* Black gabardine straight skirt

* Gray sweater

* Pale gray tunic

* White crew-neck shell

You travel in the gray pantsuit and white blouse, mix and match them with the skirt and plaid jacket for day. At night wear the gray tunic or white blouse with the black skirt or gray pants.

Seven- to 10-day trip

To the preceding list add:

* A simple sleeveless gray dress that can be worn with the plaid jacket for day or with a pretty print shawl for evening.

* A black jacket that can team with the black gabardine skirt for a suit look, for day or evening.

* Black knit pants for that go with the plaid jacket for day or with a pale gray tunic or white blouse for nighttime.

Dos and don'ts

* Do buy a suitcase in a neutral color that looks businesslike. Canvas with leather straps is a classic.

* Do plan to hand-wash clothes. It saves on suitcase space as well as wear and tear and dry-cleaning expense.

* Do try to limit your luggage.

* Do apply a superhydrating facial lotion (sometimes called "flight cream") once airborne.

* Don't forget to pack a few essentials -- a change of underwear, toothbrush and toothpaste -- in your carry-on bag or tote. Then you won't need to scramble to replace them should your luggage get lost.

* Don't leave home without making a quick list of the most important things you've packed -- to use in case you have to report a missing suitcase and file a claim.

* Don't wear anything for air travel but the most comfortable clothes and shoes. On a long flight your waist and feet tend to swell.

* Don't ever forget that travel is exhausting. So don't push yourself, and rest when you can.

Long-flight must-haves

* Water mister

* Toothbrush and toothpaste

* Good-luck charm

* Eye drops

* Two-way mirror

* Nail file

* Cleansing and moisturizing cream

* Talcum powder

From the book "Style by Elsa Klensch."Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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