How I Travel Christina Tosi Will Hold Your Screaming Baby on the Plane
Style & Culture

How I Travel: Christina Tosi Will Hold Your Screaming Baby on the Plane

We peek into the airport routines and bizarre quirks of the world's most well-traveled people.

“Wanderlust is alive and well in me, and has been since I was a teenager,” says Christina Tosi. The chef, best-selling author, and founder of the Milk Bar empire can’t settle on a favorite mode of travel, toggling among the options with her characteristic sugar high. “An RV road trip and discovering what’s further out in your backyard is really interesting. I love a great train and just staring out the window. But I’m a sucker for airplane travel! Each of them brings this beautiful perspective.”

Tosi, who recently partnered with Marriott Bonvoy Moments to offer members a baking session with her in New York City, chatted with Condé Nast Traveler about her plane-snack strategy, what she’s ordering from room service, and how she reframes travel stress.

The snacks she’s packing in her carry-on:

I think about food all day and all night because of what I do. I have a fear of being hungry and not having the snack that I want to have, you know? I travel a fair amount for work and for play; I know which airport or terminal I can get a peanut butter and jelly Uncrustables® sandwich, or where I can get my favorite salty corn chips, which are called Off the Cob. I have my little pantry drawer at home that always has my favorite vanilla almond nut butter, Milk Bar cookies, and cake truffles. Will I have sweet? Will I have salty? Will I have nutty? I am a bit of an old lady, where I'll always bring a Ziploc baggie of oatmeal and some instant, freeze-dried coffee. I plot out little snacks along a trip, but I like to pick up something at the airport. Travel snacks are the spice of life. They're a secret to survival. I never want to be forced to eat something that isn't going to bring me joy. And on the plane, always club soda, seltzer water. There's something about those bubbles that feels all the more magical at that altitude.

How early she arrives to the airport:

The last possible second. I am going to make people really uncomfortable. My husband hates this about me, my sister, my mom, anyone who travels with me. You don't know what it is to be alive until you’ve sprinted to the plane. I like to cram as much of life into every single moment as possible, and for me, that does not include sitting at a gate.

Her go-to flying outfit:

I have this pair of wrinkle-free, cream, almost silky looking joggers. They're nice enough that it doesn't look like I'm wearing my PJs, but it feels like I'm wearing my PJs. Those are always my bottoms. They're super comfortable, but if you run into someone, a work acquaintance or otherwise, it still feels like you're flying classy. 

How she spends flight time:

I work hard, play hard. I usually spend all of my time working, with the caveat of during takeoff and landing, when there's no Wi-Fi. I have an audiobook downloaded and a New York Times crossword puzzle: Sometimes your flight gets canceled or you're sitting on the tarmac for a lot longer than you thought, and I love a great audio book to just lose yourself in, and I like the crossword puzzle because sometimes I want to engage my brain in a way that's joyful and fun. Also, I read the back-of-the-seat magazine like I'm an editor. Again, you've got to study the snacks, what's available. Where am I going? What are the connections? I use that map as my little dreamscape, where do I want to go next? But otherwise, it's just head-down work. I get there feeling the work high of: I accomplished something, so now I can be present wherever it is that I've landed.

The city with a shockingly great food scene:

I'll fly to Columbus, Ohio to eat. Most people don't know this about Columbus but it's one of the places where a lot of fast-casual restaurants will test out concepts, because it is this really interesting melting pot of people, this intersection of different palates. I'm always interested in the next food thing that's going to reach us all en masse. And in Ohio, you're always guaranteed really great ice cream or really great cheese.

Where Christina Tosi stops for candy:

I will say that Wales and Bath, England are probably the most surprising places. They have these old-school candy shops that have the most fascinating flavor combinations, like sour gummies with creamy filling in flavors that make no sense but taste insanely delicious. My favorite part about travel is it's the ultimate indulgence, so you just give yourself to the indulgence, especially when it comes to eating dessert. Bath and Wales—do not snooze on them!

Her favorite hotel in the world:

The one that blew my mind the most was Le Meridien, Bora Bora. It’s the trip you think about forever, the one you've been tagging on the ‘gram forever, until one day you finally take the crazy flight and it looks even cooler in real life. I think there are those destinations that just completely redefine what you think about as luxury. You're on stilts in the middle of nowhere! Your brain doesn't know how to comprehend and can't wrap itself around it, even after multiple great nights’ stay.

The hotel amenities she cares a lot about:

A really luxurious fluffy comforter and the room service menu. Mostly because of French fries—which is my French fries (side of mayonnaise, side of ketchup). Eating that on a fluffy white comforter is the ultimate hotel indulgence for me. That's when I feel I've really made it.

The destination she could travel to a million times:

Italy. My father is from northern Italy, I speak Italian, I love the food. I love everything about the place. I'm Italy’s unofficial chief marketing officer. I studied abroad in Florence, I've been there multiple times, then I had a friend get married at the St. Regis Florence and I saw Florence through a brand new lens. It's an old nunnery that they transformed into a hotel! You're at the train station and you've never had better panini before—at the train station! Everything defies all expectations. It's delicious. It's magical. It's backwards. I love it forever.

Her travel pet peeves:

My personal perspective—and I don't nail it every time—is that once you leave your place and you put yourself in motion, you give yourself to the experience. Right? It's an adventure. Don't plan on it going the way that you think it will. Bring yourself great snacks, create the items that are going to bring you joy that are within your control, and try not to be judgmental about the other stuff. Because I'm a new parent, I will hold your screaming baby. I've got your back, whatever it is. We all have pet peeves, but challenging that in yourself to say, "What if I didn't have pet peeves and decided to think about it differently?” It just makes the joy and adventure of travel. It reframes it. That's been a secret to sanity over the past five years of travel for me.

Where she wants to go next:

Tomorrow, I have a board meeting and then as soon as my board meeting's over, I'm running to the train to get to the airport to get on a plane to go to San Francisco to rent a car to drive to hike Half Dome in Yosemite. Just doing it for the day, and I fly back on Friday morning like a lunatic. But it's the trip that I'm most excited to take. I've had my snacks packed for three weeks! This is a self-care trip for me. Once a year, I give myself a challenge, whether it's planning a marathon or a big hike. Last year I did Mount Whitney with my siblings. I like to have this beautiful challenge in front of me. It keeps me honest and humble and it reminds me there’s always something that's bigger than myself, to get comfortable being uncomfortable, and that I’m capable of things I didn't think were possible. The intersection of travel with it makes it all the sweeter.