Layover Life : 5 Things You Need to do in Memphis, Tennessee

Ahh Friday, what a glorious day you are and one that I actually have off so major plus!

This week I got sent to the airport to sit standby and was quickly informed I’d be working to Memphis for a 30 hour layover.  I have actually been to Memphis when I was younger and did both Graceland and the National Civil Rights Museum (both absolute musts if you’re in the area) but I wasn’t sure what I’d want to do for one day and one day only. I texted my sister who lives in Nashville what one should do in Memphis and she said “nothing! Ha. Peabody Hotel, Arcade for Brunch & Graceland.”

Having already done 2 out of the 3 of those things I set off to make a new plan and here’s what I came up with to fill my last minute layover in Memphis!

1. Take a Tour of Sun Studio.

Sun Studio is where greats like B.B. King, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley all recorded some of their early work in. In fact Elvis & Johnny both recorded their very first songs in the single room that still stands virtually untouched today. The tour is $14 and lasts about an hour. It’s guided by incredibly passionate music fans- our guide Jason sang along with every song he shared and you couldn’t help but at least tap your foot in solidarity. The moment I left I found myself down a rabbit hole researching all of the amazing songs that had been recorded in that room and of course creating a very dorky playlist to go along with it. I loved the tour! Bonus: when you purchase a ticket you also receive use of a free shuttle service that brings you to Beale Street and also to Graceland which is a great value!

2. Stuff your face at Central BBQ.

Memphis BBQ where can you really go wrong? Honestly, you can’t. Let me tell you though, when you want to go really right, you go to Central BBQ. This place is so good it has 4 locations in the greater Memphis area so no matter where you are you can enjoy it! The brisket was so tender and I loved the hot BBQ sauce that came along with it. Everyone who worked there was really nice and made me feel like I was home- well except Jeopardy! wasn’t on and though my mom’s mac & cheese is my forever favorite it’s quite different! Oh and she sure as hell never made us brisket. This place is special folks, you’ve got to try it.

3. Live Music & Big Ass Beers on Beale Street.

Of course what is a trip to Memphis without testing out the open container law on Beale Street? I’m just kidding but I did stop for a “Big Ass Beer” at King’s Palace and listened to some live music in their courtyard which was a great way to spend an afternoon despite the fact that it was 100 degrees and I felt like I was dying a little inside sitting out there (my New England/Irish blood has a serious aversion to humidity haha) To be honest, I actually don’t know that I’d care to spend any time on Beale at night- call me a loser but I don’t even like Bourbon Street after 5 PM so for me an hour during the day was perfect.

4. Watch the Peabody Ducks Waddle through the hotel lobby.

If you don’t already know about the historic duck march through the lobby of the Peabody hotel, click here immediately to find out. Now you can continue this post… I decided to check out the 5pm session when the ducks are marched from the fountain back to their penthouse suite on the roof. I arrived around 3:30 because I was in desperate need of some air-conditioning and I’m actually glad I did. I got a seat at the bar and met a nice older couple who put the duck walk ever so simply “they roll the red carpet out, the Duck Master makes a 5 minute entertaining speech, the ducks walk to an elevator and we clap like morons.” They made sure I had as good a spot as possible though because even as morons, it was still unbelievably special! There were probably 150-200 people on multiple floors of the hotel lobby looking down at these birds waddling away on a Tuesday afternoon. You’ve just got to check this out friends!

5. Take in the sunset on the rooftop at Hu. Hotel.

This was my favorite part of the day, easily! The rooftop bar at Hu. Hotel is small but mighty in it’s spectacular views of the Mississippi River and cozy rooftop seating. The bar menu had some great options for beer & wine but their cocktail list looked inspired! Still pretty full from the BBQ lunch I ordered an appetizer with a glass of rose (#basic) and sat for an hour enjoying the views. The hummus was delicious! I don’t know how busy it would be on a weekend as I was going up on a Tuesday (ayy) but I can’t recommend it enough! I loved it so much that I’d love to see what the rest of the hotel and it’s rooms were like on my next visit.

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From the moment crew scheduling called me to basically last night when I got back from working my trip “Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn was stuck in my head. If you follow me on my Instagram you’d know that I went a little hard on using the song lyrics to dictate my day but hey, I had a prayer in Memphis! So the next time you find yourself in Memphis even just for a day like me, you should absolutely add these stops to your to do list! I promise, you’ll be glad you did.

Oh but if the shuttle driver puts her hand out to grab your luggage, do not shake it. The alarming look on her face will shake both of you to your core. I’m so awkward

I hope you have a great weekend filled with rooftop bars, great views and all of the BBQ- or cleaning, like me. I mean, we can’t always be walking in Memphis!

Kari

What’s In My Bag? The Essentials

Aloha party people!

Today’s post is about the most essential items for travel that I have with me no matter if I’m gone for a month or just an overnight. I know travel can be so unbelievably stressful so having a good base of items is so important to get you through whatever days stuck in crowded airports, messy road trip cars or metal tubes in the sky might bring. So let’s get to it shall we?

  1. A large scarf, Turkish bath towel or some other lightweight compact blanket. 

Planes are cold people! On the majority of them the “controls” are literally a dial that the pilots move in the hopes of appeasing everyone BUT it’s not an exact science. Most airplanes domestically aren’t even boarded with blankets so relying on this is a bad idea. In the winter I always either wear a very basic chick blanket scarf to the airport or keep one in my bag. In the summer however I always have a Turkish bath towel or a lightweight cotton towel that can be used as a blanket, beach towel and even a picnic blanket. My favorite one I got while in Morocco but I did find a few from an Etsy site below that look just as amazing. Amazon also has lots of compact blanket options that fit nicely into a little pouch, I even have one in my car because I’m a grown-up and that seems like something a grown-up does!

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1. Blanket Scarf 2. Cotton Bath Towel 3. Compact Travel Blanket 

2. A reusable water bottle. 

This should just be a common practice in everyone’s general life (props to you SFO!) but I swear I have saved so much money on buying water now that I am in the habit of carrying a water bottle around. Most airports have gone to some pretty awesome water filling stations now so it’s convenient to refill once you get through security. Also, who hasn’t had to make the run from one gate to another to catch a flight? You then get on the plane absolutely dying of thirst from your sprint and the flight attendants have to remain seated because of turbulence after take-off (anyone who flies through Denver a lot can attest to this scenario) thus delaying the hydration you are so desperate for. JUST BRING YOUR OWN WATER BOTTLE KIDS!

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1. United by Blue 2. Hydroflask 3. REI

3. A portable charger battery pack.

I cannot praise this Kenruipu battery pack enough! I know they make smaller, lighter ones but this one is the holy grail of battery packs. Once charged this brick (which does take awhile to charge if it’s dead) can charge my phone 5 times 0-100% before it dies itself. It has 4 different output ports so I can be charging multiple items at the same time. My phone is a piece of garbage so between trying to find an outlet at an airport or spending the whole day exploring a new city I need a battery pack that’s going to be reliable. While the one above does fit in my purse if you’re looking for a much smaller option this Anker one is a good find but it doesn’t last nearly as long.

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1. Kenruipu Large Battery Pack 2. Anker Small Battery Pack

4. The key toiletries.

Chap-stick, hand sanitizer, moisturizer, multi-vitamins & melatonin. These are the toiletry items I would never leave for a trip without. Anyone who’s spent long periods of time on a plane full of re-circulated air and humans with questionable hygiene practices knows you need to have some defenses ready to go and these are the ones you need pack! I love Badger chap-sticks for planes, hiking, snowboarding and just in general living in high-altitude climates like Denver. It keeps my lips moisturized but without feeling like I have to reapply constantly like some chap-sticks. I trust you know why you’d need hand-sanitizer which pretty much covers a good multi-vitamin as well. I swear by moisturizer with a water jelly component and if you haven’t tried one before I’d recommend this Bliss one. Melatonin is my best friend when it comes to international flights (not working them obviously) and when I have to switch back and forth between working redeyes and early check-in trips though if you’ve never tried it be prepared for some WILD dreams on occasion.

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1. Chap-Stick 2. Hand-Sanitizer 3. Moisturizer 4. Multi-Vitamins 5. Melatonin

5. A baseball hat.

I always have a baseball hat in my bag. Do you need one? I don’t know really. If you do it should only be 47 Brand because that’s the only acceptable baseball hat brand but anyway I like having the option of throwing it on and calling it a day. I also collect hats. I also, also, hate washing my hair so it’s a bag staple.

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1. The Only Brand To Buy From

6. A Kindle/iPad.

This is of course the splurge purchase but here is the thing, they really are a lifesaver. Not every plane you get on is going to have screens, not every plane you get on is going to have working WiFi (I know I’m not supposed to admit that but… it’s true) SO everyone who can should have one of these items. I do love reading paperback books but when I’m on redeyes I like having a lit up screen so I always have at least one book downloaded on my Kindle app. I also have like 10 shows downloaded and ready to watch just in case I can’t connect to WiFi on a plane or in a hotel room. Control your own fate friends, it will make your life so much easier when things go wrong.

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1. Kindle 2. iPad

7. SNACKS!

Airports and hotels are the biggest price gauge I’ve ever seen besides sports arenas but at least they entertain you. I’m not saying you won’t spend money on a meal in an airport but throwing a few easy snacks in your bag makes you a more enjoyable person to be around (I mean I don’t know you personally but it does apply to most). When I’m working I have a full-blown lunch box of my meals for the trip BUT even when I’m flying for personal trips I always keep a few items in my bag for those just in case moments. Some of my favorites are Clif Bars, Trader Joe’s “Just Mango” dried mango slices (not the sugar coated ones) and Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels- these are clutch for filling up fast.

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1. Clif Bars 2. TJ’s Just Mango 3. TJ’s PB Filled Pretzels

8. A Sleep Mask.

I got a free sleep mask from working an international flight (if I’m being real) so I threw it in my bag. Soon after I needed to sleep during the day to work a night flight and the light coming through the blinds was killing me! I put the sleep mask on and literally have used one ever since. I upgraded to this silk one from Amazon which I highly recommend! It’s adjustable so it doesn’t crease your hair while you sleep but it stays put even when you move and the slight pressure of having something over my eyes helps me feel relaxed and ready to fall asleep. I’ve gifted this sleep mask to a few of my friend’s and they all swear by it now!

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1. Silk Sleep Mask 

9. A small but handy toiletry case.

I LOVE THIS TOILETRY CASE! It’s not too big to fit into my carry-on but it still holds all of the items I need to have with me. The patterns are super cute and always being updated. The pockets are so helpful to keep everything organized and though you might be skeptical given the $10 price tag I can assure you it’s great quality. I only had to replace mine because I stupidly left a bottle of shampoo with a broken lid in it and it exploded everywhere (maybe could have washed it out but at $10 I just replaced it altogether).

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1. Hanging Toiletry Bag

10. A shoe bag.

I am actually not a germaphobe by nature but I don’t need to tell you that the floors of an airport/airplane have seen some of the grossest things out there! I do my best to combat the unavoidably disgusting by using this set of travel bags for my shoes. When I first ordered this set almost 3 years ago the description was only for storing cloth diapers but they’ve since updated it to “pumping parts, swimsuits etc.” While I don’t use them for any of that I love them irrationally anyway! Not only are they great quality and machine washable, I can also keep shoe deodorizer in the zippered pockets… anyone who wears the same shoes every day should get some of this spray, it’s a lifesaver.

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1. Damero Wet Bag 2. Ubbcare Wet Bag 3. Natural Shoe Deodorizer

So there you have it, a real who’s who of products I’d never leave home without that I think you should probably have too!

Do you have any travel items that you swear by but didn’t make my list? Let me know in the comments below!

Kari

My Most Frequently Asked Flight Attendant Questions (Part 1)

Oh hey there, folks!

I think any flight attendant can attest that we get asked A LOT of questions about our jobs and the lifestyle that comes with it! Sometimes it feels like the deeper I dive into our world the more follow up questions and the more utterly confused people are. My roommate thinks I’m insane when I start talking in FA speak and my dad while he enjoys the benefits of my free flights, has NO idea what my life is like on a normal basis. Hell, neither do I sometimes. While I won’t say this is every flight attendant’s experience as all airlines are slightly different I can say this is mine and I’m happy to answer the top questions that I get asked most often. Well, besides how to open the lavatory door because let me tell you, NOBODY KNOWS HOW TO OPEN THE DOOR OF THE BATHROOM DOOR.

What is your “route”? 

Short answer, I don’t have one. Long answer: There are two types of flight attendants, those who hold lines and those who don’t or “reserves”. As a line-holder you “bid” for your schedule for each month which is entirely based on seniority. These schedules are every trip you’ll work that month, where you’ll layover and how many hours you’ll fly total. The more desirable the trips (aka international, Hawaii, etc) the more senior the line goes to. So for that month that is their “route” but more often than not unless you speak a specific language OR are so senior you can hold the same route- your routes change month to month. Being a line-holder is the goal and the more seniority you have under your belt, the more desirable trips you can fly regularly.

I am on reserve which means in a very basic explanation I go where I’m told, when I’m told- domestically and internationally. My days off are my days off but when I am “on” the earliest I know what I’m doing is about 24 hours ahead of the trip, the latest is 3 hours before the check-in time. There are 3 things that can happen to you when you’re on call… 1) You get assigned a trip. It can be anywhere from 1-4 days long but the moment I get assigned it, I do know what I’m doing each day/where I’ll be laying over for that length of the trip. 2) You get assigned Standby. Standby is when I get sent to the airport to sit for 4 hours to potentially fill in on a trip that falls apart- because we typically have 3 hours to get to the airport it’s important to have some reserves already sitting at the airport in case a crew goes illegal (delays, last-minute sick calls, etc) so that we can run right to the gate and cover that trip. Standby is F&*%($* impossible to pack for but that’s a subject for another time! If nothing goes awry by the time your 4 hours are up, you go home. And finally, 3) you sit on call but do not get used. This happens occasionally, where we are on call the whole day but the operations have gone well enough that you do not get sent anywhere. It’s nice when it happens which is far more frequently in the slow season- my record is 10 days of on call straight that I didn’t get used which was at the end of January aka the slowest month ever. The amount of Great British Baking Show I watched would make your head spin.

So what is your schedule like/how do you get paid?

I get 12 days off a month as a reserve flight attendant and a base rate for flying a certain number of flight hours. The 12 days off can for the most part be put anywhere I’d like them (with the exception of holidays which LOL you’re never getting off). I do not have a 9-5 kind of personality so I’d much rather work longer days (our duty days are usually more like 10-13 hours instead of the standard 8) to get more days off that I can put where I’d like them.

This month’s schedule… yellow are off days and green are days on call that I was assigned something. If i’ts blank, I didn’t get called in.

If you fly over your base rate you get more money, if you fly below it- you still get paid for the full amount you were guaranteed. Our pay structure is freaking bonkers so I probably won’t ever get further into that because I can assure you- it makes no sense. Fun fact if you don’t already know it: Flight Attendants are not getting paid our hourly rate until the brakes of the plane release at the gate and we stop getting paid when the brakes are set at the next gate. 

Where is your favorite layover? 

IMPOSSIBLE to pick one. While it’s been amazing to get to explore big cities that I had never been to I am far more happy when I get to adventure around the small towns. My favorite big cities are probably Pittsburgh (pierogies til I die), San Diego (holy prettiest people ever) and Portland, OR. My favorite small cities are anywhere other than Portland in Oregon, Madison, WI and obviously Burlington, VT… does it count if I’m from there? I think it does.

Madison, Wisconsin

How long are your layovers/do they put you up?

Our layovers range from 10 hours (the shortest) to some international destinations of 48+ hours long. It honestly just depends on the trip. I prefer the longer layovers on my trips obviously because I love exploring new cities, especially if I know someone there that I can visit. They do put us up and actually in most places really nice hotels; like some of our international layover hotels are DOPE. Basically if our layover is over a certain number of hours they are required to put us up “downtown” in that city but if it is shorter we are put up by the airport.

What is the longest flight you’ve ever worked? 

When I was based in San Francisco I got called in for Standby one morning. Moments after checking in scheduling called to tell me I was working to Incheon. I told the lady I didn’t know where Incheon was and she was clearly in a hurry so she just told me what gate to go to. Off I went to the gate and boom 11 hours later I landed in Incheon or better known as Seoul, South Korea where I would spend the next 24 hours eating as much Bibimbap as I could get my little hands on.

Baby’s first Bibimbap

Where are you based/where is home?

Out of training my entire class was sent to San Francisco to be based. Being from Vermont I knew I would not commute back and forth so I actually moved to the Bay Area and signed a lease for a year (biggest check I’ve ever written was singing that lease). When I requested a transfer to Denver I did not renew my lease and instead moved into what a large population of junior flight attendants live in because #costofliving called a “crash pad.” Crash pads are not sponsored in any way by any airlines specifically but they are SUPER common in the industry because a large number of flight attendants and pilots alike are “based” somewhere but they actually live in a different city and commute in for their trips. A crash pad is usually an apartment close to the airport where you rent a bunk on the nights you have to be in that base (say you have an early check in one morning but you can’t physically get to the airport that same morning, you come in the night before and sleep in your bunk). My crash pad was considered a luxury find as it was a 3-bedroom house that I shared with “only” 16 other flight attendants. My room “only” had 4 people in it and I was even allowed 20 hangers in the closet (the fact that we even had a closet in our room was a big deal!) We each paid $500 a month for a single bunk… let that sink in people! Most crash pads in the Bay are more like 2-bedroom apartments with 16 people- 8 to a room and sometimes ONLY ONE BATHROOM! It is easily the most absurd part of the industry.

My old crash pad bunk decorated oh so sweetly by one of my roommates.

When I say I lived in a luxurious bunk I mean this is the alternative in a lot of places…

I am now based in Denver where I have always wanted to live and as of a few months ago, I officially call home! I live downtown with 2 “normal people” roommates who sleep in their own rooms and I am happy to report that I have a whole closet full of hangers all to myself 😉

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I’m going to break this post up into a few parts just for ease and my long-windedness (sorry guys, I’m a rambler) so I shall end it here. If this was interesting to you at all or it brings up any additional questions feel free to comment so I can answer them in my next post! If this wasn’t interesting to you at all well just skip these ones, duh.

Have a happy week friends!

Kari

Disclaimer: All views are my own and do not reflect any official policy or position of the company I work for.