Rana Good is the founder of Naïra NYC. A writer for publications such as Forbes, Travel + Leisure, Coveteur, Mens Journal and others, she created her own platform celebrating women of color.
Celebrity flight attendant and silver-haired Instagram star Tennille Murphy knows a thing or two about traveling in style. As the personal flight attendant to a basketball legend she jets all over the world and lets her followers in on her wellness, skincare and wellbeing tips while on the road. I spoke to Murphy about what she does exactly as a celebrity flight attendant, how she manages to stay healthy on the go (she told me she practically never gets a cold) and how she maintains that flowing skin, dry cabin air and all.
You’re a celebrity flight attendant, what does the average day look like for you?
Tennille Murphy: My favorite way to explain corporate aviation is that it’s like hosting a dinner party. I do all of the shopping, prepping the dishes, setting the tables, and maintaining the aircraft while we’re in the air. It’s everything you would do if you were hosting an elaborate event but you’re doing it in flight. The typical day for me actually starts the day before because I’m sourcing, shopping and preparing for any catering they want. When I get to the plane, I need to load the groceries, make sure the linens are ready, and ensure the plane looks beautiful. When my boss arrives then I do breakfast, lunch and dinner service. I do this in various cities and countries, it’s very multifaceted, precise and nicely executed.
What do you like most about your job?
It plays to all of my strengths. I’m always a little bit over the top [laughs]. I love that I get to be myself, travel and take care of people. Anytime you get to play to your strengths it’s such a gratifying feeling.
What are some of the best places you’ve traveled to and why?
Italy is my favorite country to visit. I’ve had such great experiences in Venice, Rome, and Florence. I feel so Italian when I’m there walking through the city streets. In the U.S. I love Chicago. I don’t need to run from attraction to attraction or go shopping — I love to just engage with people, have nice meals and enjoy the sites. I was recently in St. Lucia and I loved my time there. I wasn’t sure what to expect because I’m not usually that into island travel but it was an incredible experience.
How do you prepare for a flight? What beauty and wellness tips do you have?
It’s really important for me to eat foods that are going to keep me healthy year-round. If there’s one thing I can’t have, it’s a cold. I eat raw fruits and vegetables. I know people don’t attribute food to beauty but for me, it’s less about the creams, essences, and serums but more about what you put on the inside. I bring wheatgrass powder with me and drink lots of water to keep my immune system tip top. I don’t remember the last time I had a cold. I take my job very seriously and my boss pays me to be available.
When I land and want to take care of my skin I bring a hydrating mask with honey or hyaluronic acid to boost my skin. I bring sleeping patches by SiO Beauty and sleep with them on because they’re made of silicone and hydrates my eye area. My eyes are the first to show that I haven’t been drinking enough water or getting enough sleep. I have a hydrating stick from Cocokind that I also use that in my eye area. My suitcase is filled with lots of skincare and since I’m on a private plane, I’m not restricted.
You’re a silver hair icon. Did you always embrace going grey? How do you take care of your hair, in particular while traveling?
I have always embraced going grey, the fact is that I never had a transition period but more of a progression during which my hair just went white. What you’re seeing now is a culmination of 20 years of not touching the white in my hair. I started getting white hair when I was 23 and at first, I was embarrassed but I wasn’t willing to try and hide it. It took three to four years to become something people would notice. Then in my 30s it really ramped up and the progression went a lot faster. As someone who only wears their hair natural, I didn’t want to dye it because I knew it would mess up my curl pattern. I just never colored it.
A lot of people think you have to do something special to keep your white hair shiny and brilliant but for me, I focused on taking care of my curls and I figured if they’re’ happy my white hair will be happy. I don’t use color-correcting shampoo but curl-friendly products, so no silicones, mineral oils, and mainly plant-based ingredients. I want to hydrate and define my curls. I wash my hair once a week and condition it well with masks, then I diffuse my hair with a blow dryer.
You speak frequently about your plant-based diet, do you run into issues maintaining this lifestyle while traveling?
I think people think eating plant-based is really hard and challenging but it isn’t. As a flight attendant, it’s easy for me to bring food with me, so I have everything I like to snack on like carrots and hummus or fruits. I will ask for plant substitutions and most restaurants say no problem. I eat sides of broccoli or mushrooms a lot. When I get home, I can have the food I love. The only time it gets complicated is going to certain countries.
What are your tips to travel with just a carry-on?
Sometimes I just need a suit, a shirt, my pajamas, and skincare. I’m a basics kind of person and I’ll just swap out different tops or a sweater. I like to think about how many outfits can I make from a pair of jeans and maybe a black dress. For me, I like to have options on top and two pairs of shoes. The only thing I overpack is my skincare [laughs].
Where would you like to travel in 2020 that you haven’t been before and why?
I’m excited to go to Japan this summer — I love Japanese culture, food, and the language. I have an affinity with the Japanese lifestyle. Also, in my job, I never know where we end up going so there might be some surprises coming up.