I love to travel…yeah I know, big whoop, doesn’t everyone? But no, I really mean that (for the most part) I love every aspect of it – the flights, the trains, the metro, the trams and buses, finding my way around cities I don’t know (and this from someone with an appalling sense of direction) and usually toute seule. This year’s storage cupboard/Harry Potter Air BnB incident, and Storm Emma drama not withstanding, I love it. I once sat in a cafe in Melbourne, 24 hours after arriving in Australia, with a total of $200 and all my belongings on my back…and considered the notion that no one was expecting me that evening (I had nowhere to stay, and had eaten tuna out of the tin for dinner in a hostel the previous night), and that I could quite easily head off on a bus to anywhere – and disappear, and nobody would even figure it out for days, or even a week or two. I found the idea so compelling, I have never quite forgotten it. I mean, when do you ever not have someone who would notice, even if it is just your boss or your mum?
Obviously enough, I found somewhere to sleep and eventually a job, and an entire grown up life (which I’m sure my parents thought was well overdue at that point), and a similar opportunity has not presented itself since. But every airport, foreign city or port always reminds me of that feeling of how BIG the world is (so big it could hide a whole person, and quite easily) and how much of it there is still to see.
Frequent travel has (fortunately) become a normal part of my life over the last couple of years, and consequently, so has living out of a carry on – while attempting to exercise regularly, make myself presentable for work, eat relatively healthily, and avoid Monica-from-friends-in-Hawaii hair on a daily basis. And, even attempt it with some pretence at that Gaulish elegance, where everything looks well put together but almost by accident (I kid myself, can anyone, anywhere, ever be as chic as the French? But I did have a conference in Paris, so it was duly added to the wish list). This, combined with my neat-freak side, has created a devotion to travelling light, without interrupting daily life too much.
Aside from the one time I got stuck in London for a week with little more than a suit and my gym gear (once again, thank you to my brother and his girlfriend for literally giving me the clothes off their backs), this one rarely fails me – and makes travelling so much easier. I once spent 10 weeks in Asia with just hand luggage, and seemed to have just as much to wear etc as everyone I was with (despite their bags being twice the size). I find the key to this is packing simple clothes that can double up – like black runners that can be worn for exercise or with just about anything, or a casual white t-shirt that can be dressed up with jeans or worn for a yoga class ( I finally found one in Lululemon). Black jeans are a staple of mine, and Zara also do a great range of stretchy pants that can be worn for work but are comfy enough to travel in. And always remember you can iron or wash what you have with you (once again, Lululemon are great for fabrics that dry quickly, hanging in a hotel bathroom) – a new outfit for every day is rarely necessary. The same applies to toiletries, even if you have a checked bag – if you don’t need a week’s worth of something, take the time to pop it in a smaller container. My regular supplements and bulletproof coffee are probably the most important to me when travelling for work, training or exams, so I always squeeze these into my clear plastic bag too.
Bring the “nice things”
I spent so many years “saving” things for a special day or event (like the “good room” at home!), and really all I was doing was wasting them. Now I bring the silk eye mask, the silk pillowcase, the expensive shoes or the cashmere scarf that makes the perfect airplane blanket – because life is too short, and far too enjoyable, to leave them behind in case something happens to them. This includes toiletries – while you’re travelling and your body clock is all over the place or you’re not sleeping in your own bed is the best time to have your favourite moisturiser.
Get up early
Sunrise is one of my favourite things, and the pleasure that you can find almost anywhere early in the morning might surprise you. From running across the Brooklyn bridge before it’s thronged with commuters and tourists, to a dip on Bondi Beach bright and early, I think some of my favourite memories are from those moments before the busyness of life begins. I love to immerse myself in the daily life of whatever city or place I’m in, but I find the stillness before the hustle and bustle starts can be the most magical. Also, exercising as soon as you can after a long haul flight can help your body adjust the the new time zone and minimise the effects of flying and jet-lag, so if your flight gets in at silly o’clock, a quick jog might be the best way to feel normal.
Constant travel can be exhausting, no matter how much you enjoy it – hopefully some of the above can make it a bit easier. As always, I would love to hear about anything that you do to make it more straightforward or enjoyable!