Catching up with professional multi-tasker Gabrielle Union is no easy feat. Recognized as one of Hollywood’s top talents (Think Like a Man, The Birth of a Nation and BET’s Being Mary Jane), the actress is also an Instagram sensation, a fashion designer for New York & Company and the New York Times best-selling author of We’re Going to Need More Wine. In the book, Union gets real, sharing stories straight from the heart — in all their wit, emotion, fun and complexity — that make for a fantastic read on the plane.
Speaking of travel, the globe-trotting Union and her NBA superstar husband, Dwyane Wade, have their jet-setting skills down to a science. We recently sat down with the busy career woman to pick her brain about how she gets around in such flawless style.
Airport travel can be tricky, but luckily, Union has developed a few foolproof habits over the years to keep things simple. For example, most people would suggest arriving to the airport two or more hours before your flight, but this savvy star gets to her gate one hour before takeoff. “I’m not one of those people who likes to get there early and wait around,” she says.
Checking a suitcase is always time-consuming, so Union will often ship larger items (or dirty clothes) ahead of time to avoid having a bulging bag. “It’s really helpful in avoiding lost luggage,” she says.
The Bring It On actress makes sure she carries all of the essentials with her on the plane. With such a busy schedule — most of the time, Union is going straight to an event or a meeting when she lands — she, like most of us, simply doesn’t have time to wait around for her luggage.
To avoid any style snags away from home, Union always packs one meeting outfit, a great-fitting skinny jean, a white shirt and white sneakers in her carry-on, just in case her suitcase doesn’t make it in time.
As for specific travel attire, she loves to wear comfortable clothes and avoids fabrics that wrinkle. Other must-haves include sunglasses — she does call Miami home, after all — and her elegant Invicta watch, one of her many stylish collaborations.
Fuzzy warm socks are essential to keep her feet warm on the plane.
She also packs her own headphones and always downloads five to seven episodes of her favorite shows, such as This Is Us and The Good Doctor.
“My biggest tip is to not overpack,” Union says. To eliminate overstuffed bags that you have to pay for, she suggests laying out all the clothes you plan to pack so that you can actually see the outfits you will be wearing, as opposed to simply throwing in a bunch of options. This process will give you great peace of mind, too.
Regardless of where you’re going, Union suggests wearing sneakers and nothing with metal, to avoid setting off any alarms.
To help with space and organization, Gabrielle packs her clothes in gallon-sized plastic bags, which also keep her outfits protected and pressed.
As for hair maintenance, she always brings along products from Flawless, a line she created for women with textured tresses.
For regular globetrotters, she recommends signing up for Global Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. This time-saving tidbit also allows you to go through the TSA Precheck security lines, which, of course, “makes things a thousand times easier” because you don’t have to take off your shoes or put your computer in a separate tub.
Travel bucket list
Most recently, Union loved traveling to Egypt. She’s looking forward to exploring South Africa, specifically Cape Town (to see Table Mountain, visit Robben Island and go on a safari) and Johannesburg. She also mentions Nigeria as another African nation she’d love to explore.
And as soon as time allows (and the Cleveland Cavaliers have a break in their schedule), she’ll be packing up her favorite accessory — husband Dwyane — for a trip to one of these destinations.