The Modern Woman

Friday, May 29, 2015
Interview with Ms. Balsam Al Khalil - Etiquette Specialist & Image Consultant, Chief Representative Officer for Bank of Beirut in UAE & the Gulf Region
The Modern Woman
The Modern Woman

Are you a savvy, modern business woman leading the classic hectic lifestyle? Are you out and about in the blink of an eye catching a late night flight to meet up for a business meeting the following day? Are airport lounges your home away from home? Whether you are a novice traveler, or the run-of-the-mill type, we have some fantastic advice to offer you to make your traveling experience a pleasant one.


Balsam Al Khalil is an Etiquette Specialist, Chief Representative Officer for Bank of Beirut in UAE & the Gulf Region, a holder of a law degree, and a woman specialized in business investments in the region. Studying etiquette for fashion, food, and travel, in addition to fashion styling and image consulting both at London College of Fashion and the Finishing Touch Academy in Dubai, gives her every right to offer Fit’n Style readers some simple but valuable advice on how to travel with ease as a modern woman. Her first publication - Travel Etiquette: A Guide for the Modern Traveler – allows us to add author to her list of credentials too. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What prompted you to write Travel Etiquette: A Guide for the Modern Traveler?

Although I’m a senior banker by profession, I have always been interested in etiquette, fashion, and sheer good manners. In fact, I can’t even recall the number of people I have trained, helped out, and aided in looking good and behaving better - both on personal and cooperate levels. Having an eye for detail and being a sort of perfectionist myself has led me to take note of all the common mistakes I recognize during my frequent travels, and hence try to build awareness by writing the Travel Etiquette Book... 

What steps should someone take before actually traveling?

Always check the details, weather conditions, customs and practices, and general rules and regulations in the country of destination in order to know exactly what to pack and how to behave. Thanks to Google search, no information is impossible to obtain anymore.

What are the top 5 essentials every woman should travel with in regards to wardrobe?

The top 5 essentials that every woman should travel with include: a black dress, black high heel shoes, a nude color pashmina, flat shoes (or ballerina flats), and a good quality handbag!

How should the modern woman pack in regards to beauty products? What should she bring along and what should we leave at home?

I always advise to purchase a travel edition make-up kit in addition to the day/night eye cream kits. Women can also choose to fill the mini plastic bottles available at most of supermarkets with creams from home, leaving the big bottles behind. One should never forget to take SPF cream along as well.

What are some must-have items for traveling?

I cannot stress enough the importance of bringing along pashminas and scarves on a trip. They are fashionable and can alter the look of an outfit. The fact that they are very lightweight too makes them ideal for traveling.  

What are some of the most common mistakes people make when traveling?

I would definitely have to say over-packing (and ending up having to pay for excess weight) and travelling while wearing items that have metal, which sets off security alarms and creates delays for all…

What should the modern woman wear on a flight? Can she ever be too casual?

I’m not a fan of the sports suit on a flight and rather prefer proper leggings combined with dressing in layers (i.e. a top and a jacket) - and of course always with a scarf. Do NOT wear necklaces or bangles.

How can someone make the airport experience a hassle free one?

The airport experience becomes a hassle free one by planning way in advance, arriving 2 to 3 hours ahead of time at the appropriate terminal, carrying the necessary travel documents, and wearing metal free attire.

What is the best way to complain - if need be - with class and good manners on a flight?

Never argue with a passenger! Quietly ask for assistance from the cabin crew in charge and raise your issue politely.

Is it polite to chat with the stranger sitting beside you? And if you don’t want to chat, how can you kindly ask to be left alone?

Greetings are always fine, but if you wish to sleep, watch a movie, or are simply not up to a chit chat, excuse yourself and simply put the head set on.


As a business woman, what are some of your beauty secrets when traveling to keep you looking your best?

I would definitely say hydrating both inside and out by ditching alcoholic drinks on board and drinking water and herbal teas instead… and continuously nourishing my face, eyes, and lips with rich hydrating creams and balms.  

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