Good lord, I miss traveling. The thrill of new places, faces, languages, the way the air feels different, has an altered weight on your skin. Even the taste of the water is specific, lingers. Though in the case of my last abroad trip to Mexico, it lingered for a full nine-hour hour layover in Puerto Vallarta like Montezuma’s revenge, confirming with great unease that classic tenet, “Don’t drink the water.” Still, I missed it. It takes planning. Just getting everything together to leave can be a huge hassle, but once you’re up in the air, hands clutching the seat or the hand of whoever is beside you (hopefully you know them) as you takeoff into the great unknown, all that chaos disappears. It is the great roller coaster of the baby eyed, the curious, the wanderluster. And yet, it could be easier. While away, the list of stuff you should have brought grows. And by the end, you might hear yourself muttering, “damn it, I don’t even have room for all this new crap I bought.” Funny. Well, about 13 years ago, one John Sencion got to talking with co-worker Brad John about how to these small dilemmas, sitting side by side on a flight that would change the course of their professional lives. It landed them, ultimately, at Flight 001. As sales associate Marisa Plaice tells me, the idea to create the company was launched when the two discussed their mutual wish to have “somewhere they could go that was kind of a one-stop shop for all their travel needs.” Not long after, the first Flight 001 was opened 11 years ago in New York. Soon after, a second store opening in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley. That store celebrated its 10-year anniversary just this past March and now joins five other stores in the U.S., as well as two locations abroad in Singapore and Australia. Since then, roaming around the world got a little easier.
When you head inside Flight 001, you might feel immediately a step closer or two to your destination. Particularly when you look overhead and onward. The ceiling of the shop calls to mind the hull of a plane, with its beaming little lights and rounded corners. There is a subtle ode to futurism, ala “2012: A Space Oddysey”, with the clean, shiny white interior. The iconized blue and white signs speak to an international, easily understood language that you tend to find in airports are equally modernist and attractive. That Flight 001 has a specific and unique aesthetic became considerably less surprising when I learned that co-owners Sencion and John come from backgrounds in graphic design. “They wanted to incorporate the design aspect they were familiar with when they decided to open this store, ” Marisa told me. This, for me, confirms the inspired notion that when you travel you leave with whats most important and come back with something thats even more profound. And more stuff, too. But where do you put that stuff? How about some smartly designed souvenir bags? Or something so simple, yet so often forgotten, a place to keep your dirty laundry. I so often end up using trash bags, but I’d much prefer these Go Clean bags. Much of the product line in the shop captured the sense of humor that will take you a long way when dealing with the hassle aspect of traveling, like their luggage tags or the quirky Pamela Barsky line of toiletry bags. For the more functionally minded, there’s plenty of handsome luggage, including a nice leather and canvas duffel by Will, a travel sized line of skin care by Mario Badescu, beautiful wallets by Boconi to stuff your euros into, and an Ultra Pod Min camera tripod by Pedco so you can get nice still shots of the ruins and remove the weight from the adventure.
Speaking of imagery, arguably the centerpiece of the store is a fantastic art piece designed by the owners which hangs on the wall just behind the cash register counter. It is the world spilt in half, then conjoined in a brilliant off-white and pressed behind luminous glass and appointed with little red dots that serve as destination points. It represents, according to the staff, an image of a mock itinerary of the first flight around the world, itself an artistic extension of the company name. 001, Marisa told me, means “the very first flight”. Which brings up an interesting point. If you happen to be going somewhere soon for the very first time, you may want to stop by the store and pick up either the Streetwise or Luxe set of city guides so you don’t miss anything. Because some stuff you can’t bring back with you, and some places might not be there if ever you get to return. That’s the mystery of travel. Gear up smart so you can take it all in.