From London to Newport Beach

Isabel Dexter

As someone who takes a handbag the size of a small overnight case when just popping across the road to buy stamps, the concept of packing light is akin to how I feel about internet dating. On a purely theoretical and rational level I can understand its appeal (practical, time-efficient and statistically A Good Idea) and yet even the thought of it makes me feel nauseous. It’s not only that I’m allergic to restraint, there’s something a little cold, a little mean about depriving yourself of all five of your favourite pairs of heels, non? Like choosing the love of your life from a pre-selected list. Where’s the romance? Where’s the spontaneity?

The thing is, lugging an enormous, elephant-pink suitcase and an apparently big-enough-for-a five-day-trip-for-a-normal-person black carry-on across London to Heathrow Airport doesn’t actually feel very liberating. It’s just exhausting and makes me realise, when it comes to the tube, chivalry may in fact be dead. Then I remember the number of cases the Beckhams get snapped with at LAX Airport and console myself with the fact that Stateside my luggage will probably be considered minimal. Plus, my Air New Zealand flight to Newport Beach promises Marilyn Monroe-style elegance and class, thanks to the cocoon-like, space-seats in premium economy. Ok I admit, I didn’t check the seating plan to make sure I was next to an eligible bachelor but if you like to be alone when you fly, this is one for you. Watching Affleck’s Argo whilst drinking freshly squeezed orange juice (ordered via a smart button on my personal flat screen) with my feet stretched out on a velvet cushion was a definite highlight. Take note London Transport.

Now I’m not averse to a pencil skirt, but unlike Mrs Beckham, tight on a flight is a big no no. It’s all about comfy yet cool leggings (I like American Apparel’s leather-look pair), plus plenty of jersey tops that can be layered and a big scarf that will double as a blanket or pillow. I fly long haul a lot to see family in Oz so I’m used to changing into a fresh tee, re-doing my makeup and practising a few, quick yoga stretches in the aisle. I’d rather lose my luggage than sleep completely bare-faced on a flight but wearing foundation just feels dirty when you’re flying so I cleanse, apply bucket loads of moisturiser (on top of Trilogy rosehip oil) and then dust on bareMinerals Pure Transformation Night Treatment. It won’t clog pores, adds a wash of colour and my skin actually looks better when I land in LA. I still feel completely confused as to what meal I’m craving (luckily the light wraps and fruit salads, plus all the peppermint tea I was given on the flight have definitely helped) but I feel almost photo-ready and am frankly rather disappointed not to have the paparazzi waiting at LAX. The excitement of Newport Beach must be helping my glow and I hang out the car window like an over-excited, über-pampered LA dog snapping pictures on the drive down to the Hyatt Regency hotel.

The hotel lobby is like a gorgeous ranch, all open fire places, comfy velvet armchairs, modern abstract art and various sized tables with chess boards, Apple computers and glossy coffee table books scattered over them. There’s that unmistakable sense of good, wholesome American hospitality and the smell of satisfaction. Or maybe it’s a grilled chicken quesadilla. Either way, it’s all very appealing and pretty much how I’d want my house to be if I lived in the O.C…