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Welcome to Racked’s How Do You Shop? series, in which we ask a variety of people some deeply personal questions about how they earn, save, and especially spend their money. If you know or are someone with an interesting relationship to $$$, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week we talked with Kelly, 30, who’s based in Dallas and works as a flight attendant for a major airline.
Kelly’s style is heavily influenced by the ’50s and ’60s — she sold vintage clothes for years on Etsy as a side gig, but recently stopped selling apparel to refocus the shop on her own line of cards, prints, and pins.
What’s your annual salary as a flight attendant?
Probably right around $45,000.
Do you have any side hustles?
Yeah — my other main source of income is my online Etsy shop, Girl Party. That’s just something that I do on the side, not necessarily to supplement my income. I do it for fun, but it is an additional source of income, so that’s always a bonus.
How much do you spend on housing?
For rent, I only spend $650 a month.
Has your job as a flight attendant affected your approach to shopping?
It definitely has affected it because a huge part of my time is spent living out of a suitcase, so you’re really limited to how much you can bring, obviously. Pretty much on a daily basis I wear a lot of basics, stuff that you can mix and match. That’s kind of trickled over into my daily life at home, even when I’m not flying, just because that’s what I’m accustomed to now.
You have a sleeve of arm tattoos, but I imagine the flight attendant dress code is rather strict. How do you navigate that?
In the flight attendant world, at my airline and every other airline, tattoos are a big no-no. They’re not allowed to show. We’re really not even supposed to cover them with makeup or anything. I’m fortunate enough that my airline offers a long-sleeved dress, which is pretty much the only piece that I wear.
I have always wanted [tattoos] on my legs. I have some on my thigh, so they’re still covered, but with a dress you wear pantyhose, so you would be able to see it. I know I pretty much will never get tattoos below my thigh. Not that I really want neck tattoos or hand tattoos, but it does limit it.
What have you learned about packing in a way that makes sense for you and still lets you be true to your personal style?
It’s pretty difficult. I’ve gotten in this habit where I have a few outfits that I know I really like and I feel good wearing, so there is a lot of repetition when I pack just because it’s faster to pack that way. I spend most of my time away in uniform — it’s not every trip where I’m going to be able to go out and explore, so I really only need a few staple outfits. The biggest thing is packing stuff that is easy to mix and match. I won’t pack something in my bag unless I’m able to wear it with multiple other items in the bag. That maximizes how many outfits I can get out of just the few amount of items in there.
As a frequent traveler, do you have a favorite shopping destination?
I have to go shopping during pretty much every New York layover because they have so much. Also, I just recently flew to Paris and I loved their vintage shops. There’s a neighborhood there called the Marais; they have a ton of vintage shops. If I’m in a really special place that I know I won’t go to that often or that’s an international destination, I will try to seek out some kind of specialty shop where I can get an item to kind of be a memento for the trip.
What are some of your favorite products to use on board?
I love using a rosewater spray to refresh and hydrate my skin when I’m flying. I typically use pure rosewater from Teddie’s Organics or Insta Natural. Both can be found on Amazon. I also always have a good hand lotion on deck because flying can be so dehydrating for your skin. I love Burts Bee’s Almond & Milk Hand Cream.
Are there sneaky ways to get discounts or extras while flying?
There’s not necessarily a sure way, but I will say bringing the flight crew a little treat goes a long way! Chocolate is almost always a guarantee to a freebie in-flight.
Have you picked up any money-saving tips for frequent travelers that aren’t widely known?
It’s not a new idea by any means, but packing your own snacks and even coffee can really slash your spending in the long run, since airport food is not cheap! I always have some granola bars, nuts, and cold brewed coffee in my bag. Also, don’t give in to travel-sized products if you’re a frequent traveler — they tend to be way overpriced. Invest in a few high-quality containers and fill them with your own products to save big in the long run.