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Tiffani Thiessen’s Best Packing Hack Takes the Stress Out of Travel

Many of us will always think of Tiffani Thiessen as cheerleader Kelly Kapowski on “Saved by the Bell,” or bad girl Valerie who threw a little spice into the mix on “Beverly Hills 90210.”

But it’s been years since those shows ended, and Thiessen has not slowed down since. In addition to continuing her acting career with roles on shows like USA’s “White Collar” and the new Netflix series “Alexa Katie,” she has also launched a career in the food and lifestyle space. In 2015, “Dinner at Tiffani’s” premiered on The Food Channel with Thiessen, a longtime chef and lover of food, cooking with some of her notable celebrity friends like Jason Priestley, Nathan Fillion, and Lindsay Price.

She has continued to explore her passion for food with her new book “Pull Up a Chair: Recipes from My Family to Yours” (available October 2). The book is all about Thiessen’s experiences with food and cooking growing up, and how delicious meals can bring people together.

Now a mother of two, Harper Renn Smith and Holt Fisher Smith, with husband Brady Smith, Thiessen sat down with Travel + Leisure at the SheKnows Media #BlogHer18 Creators Summit, where she was a speaker, to talk about her love of travel, food, and her best tips for flying with two young children.

Travel + Leisure: What’s the best vacation you’ve ever taken?

“My trips to wine country are always a favorite. We are going to Europe with the kids for the first time this year. To Spain and Italy. And then with the book tour I am going to a lot of places, which will be interesting to see like Ohio. I’ve never been there. I’m going to Nashville and I’ve never been and am super excited. My trips to Europe are some of my fondest memories which is why I am really excited to take them and let them explore and see it through their eyes.”

Do you have a favorite hotel in Europe?

“I don’t have a favorite hotel there because there are so many popping up every day. We want to go all over. We’ve been using an app called Kid and Coe. It’s like Airbnb but it’s for families and it’s really nice. It has been super helpful. We want to do the house thing because when I go to Italy I want to truffle hunt and then I want to come back and cook! And it feels more like home when you come back from the day.”

What’s something you cannot travel without?

“I am an essential oil person. I’m big on that. I’m not an over sanitizer usually but on planes I do because when you’re traveling you are trapped on that plane with everyone’s germs. Lip balm is also a must and I also bring my earbuds because I listen to a lot of podcasts. Usually NPR, The Daily, stuff like that. It’s where I get my news. I’m not a TV person.”

Do you have a plane uniform?

“Usually something comfortable. If I am coming for a meeting I always have a change of clothes. No matter what as a mom I always have a change of shirt and then I always bring something warm to wrap around me.”

Do you have a great packing hack or philosophy?

“I always leave room because we are always buying something. And I have a non-stressful philosophy. If you forget it, you can always get it. Because really, truly it is hard to remember everything whether it is a quick trip or a trip to Europe but ultimately you will figure it out. You can get it somewhere so I try to remember that so I don’t over-stress myself. I try to pack the kids first and now that she [Harper] is older, she helps me pack. It is getting easier now that my youngest is also 3 years old.”

How do you entertain them on the plane?

“They both love to draw. Harper has been traveling since she was six weeks old because we would go back and forth between the coasts. We tried to be those people that were no electronics but in a pinch an iPad it’s great. Mostly we try to put games and learning activities on there. And a snack bag is a must.”

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.