The T+L Carry-On: Anna Chlumsky
Welcome to our series, the T+L Carry-On, where we take a look inside the luggage of those who find themselves frequently traveling around the world—and gain a few expert tips along the way.
This week, we sat down with Veep star Anna Chlumsky at the McCarren Hotel & Pool and learned about what it's like to travel as an expectant mother, her unique in-flight hobby, what to expect from her character, Amy, this season, and more.
On her relationship with travel:
“As a kid, my mom and I got to travel a lot, which was wonderful, but it always felt hectic and I always felt like there was too much stuff. It’s always a goal to pack as little as possible, even with a toddler—it’s still a goal. It might be a futile one, but I try.”
On her hometown:
“I’m originally from Chicago. I go back about once a year. You have to have Italian beef there—many people don’t realize that’s a very Chicago thing—and my favorite Italian beef is Johnnie’s. Deep-dish pizza isn’t really Chicago style pizza—I mean, it is, but it was invented in the ‘70s—it’s a marketing thing. To me, real Chicago pizza is what they call tavern-style pizza now. They only call it that because they have to distinguish it from deep dish, but really it's just thin crust pizza in Chicago that you’re going to get it in squares. All the kids fight for the corners, and that’s what I like.”
On her must-pack items:
“I can’t travel without the toiletry bag that I’ve had since college—to me, it's the most excellent one, and I always get it for people who don’t have it. It’s the L.L. Bean toiletry bag. I’ve gotten onto the EmergenC packet train—it just helps to have the electrolytes after flying, and you’re around so many germs. You obviously can’t travel without a wallet and ID/passport/boarding passes, so keep those close. Keys, lip balm, driving glasses, sunglasses, and always tons of hair ties, too. I have to always have a scarf—I don’t know what it is. I’m not even that cold of a person. It’s become a comfort to have a scarf or some type of shawl.
I always have to have a book, a crossword puzzle, and a magazine. And pencils—I like to have pencils all the time. And then I always have my cross-stitch. It’s fun, and very addicting. With needlepoint, I didn’t travel with it because it was just too cumbersome, because you have to do it on a frame. But then, when I discovered cross stich—you can just bring it with you everywhere. I always try now to get the right aisle or the right window so that my right hand isn’t going in my neighbor’s face. And its better to do on set, too—you can’t get into a book on set because they might call you. I always keep clean socks in my bag as well, in case you’re stuck and forgot you were going to go on an airplane and you’re like, ‘Oh no, I’ve got to go through security barefoot.’ Although now, I’m Global Entry, so…”
On filming Veep in Los Angeles, vs. Baltimore, for season five:
“It differed a lot. Locations felt the brunt of it, because Baltimore has a lot of East Coast historical buildings—very masonic, very similar to [Washington] D.C.’s, and L.A. is a newer city, so it didn’t have as many—so, we had to get creative. But it also differed in that my cast was all terribly happy because they live there, besides myself.”
On her chaotic, weekly NY-LA (and back!) commute:
“Every season’s different, and every year your kid’s age is different. My daughter is two and a half right now. When they announced that [filming] was going to be in LA this season, it was a big question whether or not I bring her and whether or not we do the whole caravan thing and just keep us out there or not. These days, in TV production, scheduling is really chaotic, especially when the holidays come around, and she had just started her nursery school two days a week. She really had gotten to the age where her home was nice. In my bones, I felt, 'I’ll do the heavy lifting. I don’t want her to have to go through the crazy schedule.' Because sometimes they’ll let you know like, 'Oh, we need you tomorrow.' What am I going to do, get my whole family on a plane tomorrow? So I thought, 'No, I’ll do the commute,' and I did.
My goal was to not be away from her for more than seven days, and I kind of pushed that most of the time. For around six months, there was only one time it was longer than seven days—I think it was eight days—so I was really happy. LAX to JFK, Jet Blue—I’m now Mosaic! It was hard, but it was absolutely the best. And when I came home I had that little one thing a day diary for moms. When we wrapped, as soon as I got home, I wrote like, 'Wrapped. Done with the LA commute this season.' And there was this sense of satisfaction of knowing I did the right thing. I was tired, but I was the only one who was tired, so that’s all that matters!”
On traveling as an expectant mother:
“The whole thing with traveling pregnant is staying hydrated, and if you can, get the aisle seat because you’re going to be using the restroom constantly, because you’ll be drinking so much water. That’s the main thing. They regulate the air pressure in there—not much is different, you’re just tired. Also, if it’s the first trimester—and I was doing this [commute] in my first trimester—there’s really nothing you can do about it, but smells are going to be rough for you. Ginger ale became my life, and I was never really a ginger ale person. It became my savior on planes for the takeoff and the landing.”
On her favorite spots in L.A.:
“In L.A, it’s all about the food: Thai, Korean, and sushi. For Sushi, I found Sushi Park, which I loved, and Ike Sushi. Thai, I really liked Palm’s Thai. This is all going to be in the Hollywood area, because that’s where I stuck to. And I also loved—for Korean—a place called Soban, and that’s on Olympic.”
On her travel style:
“I’m pretty laidback. I like to have leggings on, because they’re stretchy. You always have to have something slip-on. Don't forget socks, because you have to take your shoes off—when somebody has bare feet I’m always like, ‘awww.’ Stretchy stuffis key—lots of stretchy, stretchy stuff. I love Karen Millen.”
On her dream trip— with anyone, anywhere, anytime:
“It would be really charming to do the old Orient Express and do all the stops with Oscar Wilde. Wouldn’t that just be the best? Or, he would be so impossible, but then he would still be great for stories.”
On her travel beauty routine:
“You always need moisturizer, cleanser, and serum. I really like Malin + Goetz, but I also really like the Body Shop’s Drops of Youth. I love this REN Evercalm Global Protection Day Cream; it’s good for sensitive skin. I have to have my perfume—Dolce & Gabbana The One. I’ve used it forever, and when it came out in the rollerball I was so happy. I usually just stick to the hotel for shampoo and conditioner, because I don’t want to travel with two big things. Same with lotion or body wash or whatever.”
On her most memorable travel experience:
“My husband and I did the walk up to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes, and we got up at like four in the morning so we could beat the sun—and he didn’t bring a map. And—God love him—he started walking us down a train tunnel. We got about halfway through the train tunnel, and probably, with me repeating myself at least 100 times ‘I don’t think the trail would take us down a train tunnel—‘ and this is in the pitch black. And finally, he was like, yeah—‘I think we need to go another way,’ So we turned back, and then we found the actual trail that got us to the seemingly endless steps of Machu Picchu. Of course, getting to Machu Picchu at sunrise was heaven.”
On her ultimate bucket list destination:
“Bucket lists always freak me out, because then I feel like I’m committing to something, or I’m going to die—but the first thing I thought of was the [Egyptian] Pyramids.”
On her approach to travel:
“I really do try to take a good vacation at least once a year. When my husband and I got married, we made a promise to ourselves that we’d use our passport at least once year, because we love doing that! It’s important to us, and we’ve kept that up happily, even with having a toddler. She’s got a couple stamps on her passport already and she’s only two and a half! My husband and I call it the town and country thing. If we have the luxury of two weeks, for instance, then it would be, “Well, where can we go and have some time in the city learning stuff, going to museums, getting some history and culture”—and then we can go someplace that’s the country, that’s just relaxed where no one's going to bother you. Maybe it’s just water, or forests, or mountains, but we like to get both in if possible.
I do travel for work a lot. Mostly, that brings me to L.A. The most recent trip I took for leisure was for Christmas to visit my brother who is studying in Florence. We all went out there, and it was lovely. My last actual trip was to D.C., on the train for the last week of filming season five. But I think right now, our trips all are supposed to be the antithesis of exciting, and all about relaxing. Being expecting, as I am, we’re going to take it low key and try and get in a beach vacation in pretty soon.”
On her jetlag trips and ticks:
“You just have to sleep—even if it’s just going to be three hours. If you’re getting in on a red-eye—or what I call a reverse red-eye which is a 10:00pm flight from NY to LA—even if it’s just going to be two hours until you have to be on set or at work, you’ve just got to sleep. And try to sleep on the plane! But if it’s international jetlag, you have to push through that day—that’s my rule. Enough of that, “Oh but I just need to take a nap.” Don’t do it! You just have to push through those 24 hours, and that will help your jetlag so much.”
On traveling alone as a young woman:
“The first time I ever traveled by myself I was terrified. I was in college and it was spring break and I went to Lisbon, because I speak Portuguese, and no one would go with me anywhere, so I was like, 'I’m just going to go by myself.' And so I did, and it was great, but I definitely felt confined to the daytime, because at nighttime I would get followed and hissed at.
That was my first time, and I was nervous, and younger. I do think braving those moments and saying ‘It’s fine, I can do this, it’s a city, there are people around,’ is a better option than just being terrified. I took that strategy when I studied abroad in Brazil. I was by myself and made plenty of friends—and you meet some people who shouldn’t be your friends, too—and then you just leave. That’s the nice thing about traveling, is that you don’t actually have to give anybody your number.”
On her favorite international cuisine:
“You know, Belgium was so surprising to me. I mean, first of all, Peru is the culinary capital of Latin America, so that’s wonderful, and then China—please, just eat everything. And Japan: also, eat everything. But Belgium was such a surprise and such a lesson, because you could walk into a restaurant anywhere and be like ‘This is delicious!’ And the waiter would be like, “Of course it is, why wouldn’t we sell you something that’s not delicious?’ And you’re like, ‘yeah…why would ‘ya!?’ Their baseline there is excellent.”
On the perks of becoming a seasoned traveler:
“You don’t want to talk about Global Entry, because you don’t want everyone to do it (laughs), but it’s wonderful. That’s a nice feeling. It’s time well spent to do that. You definitely start to know which terminals are good. LAX needs to amp it up a bit, but you can’t deny that JFK Delta is really beautiful, and JFK Jet Blue is really great, so it was even more of a good reason to be home.” (If you're interested in applying for Global Entry, read here to learn more about the program.)
On what to expect from her Veep character, Amy, this season:
“I call this the coming back from rehab season for poor Amy, because I do think that her job is an addiction. Last season she pulled herself away from it and was trying other things. I think this is the ‘Oh, can I go hangout with my old life and be exposed to be my old ways and still be OK and healthy?’ This season explores that question for her.”
On Amy’s approach to travel:
“I’m almost positive than Amy’s family owns a place in Newport, Rhode Island, so I think she vacations there a lot. If she had to go anywhere on her own, it would probably be Cancun, because she just wants to take the easiest route—to a margarita.”
On what Amy couldn’t travel without?
“Her phone.” (Of course!)
On what’s next for 2016:
“Veep’s fifth season is coming out April 24 on HBO! And then this (points to belly bump)! Then, I don’t know!”
For a behind the scenes look at Anna's T+L Carry-On shoot, click here.
Veep, season five, premieres April 24th on HBO.