Sound the royal trumpets: We officially have access to Princess Kate and Prince William’s travel secrets. Traveling can be tedious: standing in line at security, luggage allowances, plane delays, jet lag, and quirky hotels. But is this the same for the royals? As Prince William and Kate Middleton continue to embark across the oceans with Prince George in tow, we went on to investigate the complex intricacies of how the royals travel.
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Though we unfortunately can’t mosey alongside the royal couple on their trip itinerary, we can take inspiration from their consistent travel routines. To experience the element of jet-setting like royalty (without having to unveil plaques or experience a 21-gun salute), here are some essential must-dos.
1. Commercial airlines are acceptable.
You might think air transport for the royals are an entirely exclusive experience, but that just isn’t the case. Just like everybody else, the royals are under economic restraints and have to stick to a budget. A large budget, but still a budget: in 2012 they spent $7 million on travel. William and Kate have been known to skip chartered royal jets and last time they were in America; they flew commercial from Los Angeles to London (first class of course). Worried about getting motion sickness on a small plane? Pop into a drugstore and ask for Gravol, Canada’s version of Dramamine. It’s a true gem for queasy stomachs, as the royals can attest.
2. British Airways is their go-to airline.
We all have a loyal airline we instinctively click into when reserving tickets, and the royals aren’t any different. The British royals like to support their own country and try to fly British Airways when they do fly commercial. In 2011, they experienced the same frustrations of air travel we all do when their British Airways plane’s in-flight entertainment broke. And if there are no BA flights, they will even travel more economically: Prince Harry and Prince William both flew budget airlines back from their cousin Zara Philips wedding in 2011. Granted, Kate is very accustomed to flying commercial—her father and mother both worked for British Airways. The dashing duchess was even spotted on her first solo surprising passengers aboard a commercial flight headed for London (in economy class!).
3. Indulge in monogrammed royal luggage.
Luggage speaks volumes about the person who carries it, and even the most unseasoned traveller standing by the baggage claim carousel knows that. That monogrammed Louis Vuitton set? Picked up by a well-to-do man and his designer-clad wife, fresh out of business class. The garish animal-print wheelie case? Owned by the perma-tanned woman off on a package holiday with her band of squealing friends. Well, the packing arrangements of the royals are truly a grand affair; when the royals travel, they travel in style. On William’s trip to Australia, royal watchers were given a glimpse of his luggage which was emblazoned with the letter W and a crown. Kate isn’t quite so formal and apparently has a more eclectic mix of bags and suit carriers — which will carry her abundance of outfits (she had 25 during her tour of California and Canada in 2011). But at least they won’t get mixed up with William’s — the royal couple has an organized luggage tag system with a different color label for each family member — little Prince George has baby blue.
4. No leggings allowed.
Even the most glamorous of us like to be comfortable on a long haul flight; sitting against a cramped row of consecutive bodies packed like a can of sardines sometimes veers us away from dressing like a runway model. We let our style go a little and dress in leggings or at least a comfy pair of jeans, right? Not William and Kate. These royals travel in style and always arrive looking effortlessly smart and polished. Kate’s arrival outfit is either a signature two-piece suit or long dress, whereas William rarely arrives not wearing a fly suit or the classic blazer and slacks combo.
5. Don’t slack on your beauty routine.
Chris Jackson/WPA Pool
Everyone knows flying can dehydrate your skin, so Kate will be sure to bring her favorite skincare routine. The royal swears by Heaven skincare products that are famously made with bee venom by skin specialist Deborah Mitchell. Kate, 32, uses the bee venom mask in black and gold, which cleans and tightens skin and acts as a natural face-lift. Depending on what works for you, make sure to always have with you your best travel-ready beauty products and accessories (such as compression socks) that you can toss straight into your carry-on, so looking fabulous will be on your itinerary, no matter your destination.
6. Remember that TSA applies to royals too.
We all hate those winding airport lines, but even royalty need passports (so don’t get too peeved at the touchy pat-downs in security). Little Prince George had to get a baby passport for his trip to Australia, which cost the royals $65. The royal party has to adhere to customs and immigration rules, but is usually fast-tracked through this process. Queen Elizabeth is the only royal who doesn’t need a passport as passports are issued in the name of Her Majesty — however, she is forced to go through an identity check every time she flies in and out of Britain, giving her full credentials to immigration officials (as if they can’t recognize her as is). Although the royals may not always fly private, they never fly without their top-notch security team of trained experts. On their trip to LA in 2011, William and Kate toted a seven-deep entourage, and on their trip to Australia they travelled with 11.
7. Two heirs should not fly together—unless you have an adorable baby.
We realize this one may not be too relevant unless you have royal lineage in your bloodline, but it’s an interesting tidbit of news nonetheless. Royal protocol states that two heirs should never fly on the same flight together so that the royal lineage is protected. However, Prince William broke this tradition when his son was born and took him on the same flight to Australia when Prince George was nine months old. On the trip to New York, Prince William and Kate have adhered to this rule again and Prince George stayed at home with his nanny.
8. Tote around a photographer with you.
Pics or it didn’t happen, am I right? In order to control their image as best as possible, the royals often travel with a pre-approved photographer. Arthur Edwards has traveled to New Zealand with Prince Harry and Southeast Asia with Prince William and Kate Middleton to name a few. The 75-year-old photog veteran was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for “outstanding service to newspapers.” We highly recommend the Flytography service, a program that hooks travelers up with professional shutterbugs in more than 130 destinations worldwide. In a world where everyone has Instagram, becoming a make-believe photo pro isn’t particularly difficult. But if you’re looking for shots of higher quality—something mom can blow up and stick on the wall—it’s hard to deny that our phones aren’t always the best option. Why shoot selfies when you can pay a pro to document your vacation? Because even in a world awash in selfie sticks, the pictures we end up framing are rarely the ones we’ve captured ourselves.
9. Win over everyone you meet.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been doing this one their entire lives. To make friends with every Canadian you meet, bring up national treasure the Tragically Hip, or the recent case of Jian Ghomeshi for guaranteed cocktail party icebreakers. (Oh and don’t forget health care and how much you pay for it.) One of the key ingredients to being a successful public figure – a royal one at that – is to know how to deal with people. And when trying to find common ground between the Britain and other lands, being knowledgeable about the culture and pretending to *not* be the inverse will score you major points with their people. In other words, remember to put an accent on the “hmm” in “mm-hmm” and put your pinky up when drinking tea in dainty porcelain cups.