Travel & Leisure Magazine Interview

Welcome to our series, the T+L Carry-On, where we take a look inside the luggage of those who find themselves frequently traveling around the world—and gain a few expert tips along the way.

This week, we caught up with actress Julia Stiles at 11 Howard in New York City. Stiles, who recently starred in the movie Blackway, will soon be appearing in the upcoming Jason Bourne film, which took her to various locations across Europe. We sat down to chat all things travel with the star, including her top tips for beating jet lag, her best celebrity airplane encounters, and, of course, her carry-on essentials. Plus, don’t forget to check out last week’s column with professional dancer, singer, and actor Derek Hough.

On Her Relationship with Travel:
“Airplanes and I have a very intimate relationship; we spend a lot of time together. I travel mostly for work because I never seem to work at home, especially now that I live in Vancouver. I was born and raised in New York City, and I come back a lot, but I’m giving up my apartment here because I’m getting married to a Canadian. There’s tons of work in Vancouver, but I always work in foreign countries, which is great and exciting, but I’ve counted and in the last year in a half, I’ve been on a plane at least once, sometimes more, every month.”

Her Top Picks for Visitors to New York City—and Vancouver:
“Most people who come to visit New York City are in Manhattan most of the time, but I’d recommend going to some of the other boroughs; every neighborhood in Brooklyn is very different and diverse—it kind of has that feeling of the New York I grew up in. And I love this restaurant Jack’s Wife Frida, just as a staple—especially at lunchtime. It’s consistently great. In Vancouver, there are a lot of great hikes and delicious meals to be had. The Seawall is beautiful. Just going on a bike ride, or a walk around it—it’s sort of the boardwalk around the coast, and it’s so extraordinary and amazing to me that it exists in a city.”

Travel Tips and Tricks:
“I like to travel light. Sometimes, if I’m going somewhere for a longer trip, you have to check luggage, but I’ve gotten my little carry-on bag down to a tee. There are these little, square toiletry bags that that have bubble wrap on the outside, but by airport security, they’re considered a plastic baggies that you can put your toiletries in when you have to declare them—but because there’s bubble wrap, they also protect your stuff. But my number one tip would have to be to wear socks, because the most annoying thing is to get to airport security and then have to take your shoes off and walk barefoot—it’s gross, and I don’t like doing it, and I’ll never do it again.”

Her Advice for Beating Jet Lag:
“Usually, I have trouble sleeping on planes, and they say you’re supposed to stay up the whole day so you can adjust your body clock, especially if it’s an overnight flight and you arrive somewhere in the morning. I can’t do that, because I hate the feeling of being sick and exhausted. So my recommendation is to take a one hour nap—not too close to bedtime, and not too much of a nap.

If I’m working, or in a place luxurious enough to do something like go to a sauna or steam room, I like to do that because it kind of takes all the grime of the plane off, and I find it really refreshing. I think it’s really good for jet lag. If it’s not, then a walk, no matter how jet lagged you are, getting sunshine and getting your bearings is really important.”

Her Travel-Beauty Routine:
“I try not to wear any makeup on planes. I don’t use masks, because a plane isn’t your bathroom—it’s a public aluminum tube that’s flying through the air. I’ve been on a plane where someone was doing a sheet mask over night, and it freaked me out. But if you do want to keep your skin hydrated, which is key—no matter what type of skin you have. Spritzes are nice, and if you don’t want to buy an expensive one, you can go to any health food store and they have rosewater sprays, or you can get a bottle and mix up your own—even if just with water. So, serums and stuff—just moisturize. And I take Valerian root if it’s an overnight flight, because that’s a healthier way to try and fall asleep—or relax, at least.”

The Best Meal She’s Ever Had While Traveling:
“I went to Cuba, twice—legally—and my favorite meal was from this woman who was passing food that she’d made through from her kitchen window out on to the street. It was like, a fried egg on top of rice and beans and a little salad—it was delicious.”

Her Favorite Hotel:
“I’ve spent a lot of time at the Ham Yard Hotel in London—anytime I go there for work, I stay there, and it was for quite a bit when I was working on Jason Bourne. I’ve got my little coffee shop and juice spot around the corner. It’s in the center of SoHo, so it’s quite busy and chaotic outside, but as soon as you walk into the hotel it’s so peaceful and chic.”

Her Advice for Those Who Ever Find Themselves Sitting Next to Her on a Plane:
“Honestly, I’m really lazy and just watch whatever movies they’re showing you. What I’ll do is put my headphones on to kind of calm down and relax, but I always wind up watching whatever the person next to me is watching. So if you’re ever sitting next to me on a plane, pick something good.”

Her Best Celebrity Encounters on a Plane
“When you luck out and somebody else is paying and you get to fly first class, then it’s like, oh my God; there’s that person, and there’s that person! I’ve seen Morgan Freeman, Sigourney Weaver, and Annette Bening. Oh, and Sting! I stood next to Sting at baggage claim, once.”