When I took over as the editor of IMAGE, packing was not what I would consider as one of my strengths. I love travelling, but when it comes to P-Day, I would do anything to avoid filling a suitcase. I’d clean behind the toilet, cook complicated dishes, call friends I hadn’t spoken to in years, update my Pinterest boards, FaceTime my nephew, watch TV shows I hate – anything to avoid putting a few simple items in a bag and closing it. Lately, there’s been no avoiding the task. My job involves quite a bit of travel. Sometimes it’s across the Atlantic to meet a designer or to Europe for an interview, others it’s a day trip across the Irish Sea for a press launch or film junket. And then there’s Fashion Week, which throws up a whole other set of problems. In my quest to become the queen of the airport lounge, I’ve even attended a tutorial on the Art of Packing by the pros at Louis Vuitton. I left feeling very superior and vowing to invest my first Lottery jackpot in monogrammed luggage, but by the time my next trip rolled around, I was back to throwing things into a case an hour before check-in. Three years on, and numerous boarding passes later, my technique has vastly improved and so have the heart palpitations en route to the airport. While I may never become travel royalty, I think it’s only fair to share some of the nuggets I’ve picked up along the way so you can learn from my mistakes.
Don’t travel with nail polish I’m sure there’s a scientific reason why nail polish does not make a good travel companion, but I don’t know it. What I do know is every time I bring a bottle on a flight with me, I have to throw out my toiletry bag. If you want perfect nails for the duration of your trip, opt for Shellac before you fly or get a mani on arrival at your destination.
Mind your passport like you would your iPhone Last time I attended New York Fashion Week, a fellow journalist left her passport in her suitcase before checking it into the luggage hold at the hotel. Cut to a couple of hours later when we had to retrieve our bags and her case was missing. While losing all your belongings isn’t ideal (see more of that later), without a passport she wasn’t able to fly. Luckily, the hotel retrieved her bag just in time and couriered it out to JFK with seconds to spare.
Backstage at NYFW. The calm before the storm.
You can’t pack for every occasion The best trips always throw up a situation you didn’t expect or plan an outfit for. Sometimes you just have to wing it. The one item that can work for beach or bar, smart or casual is a jumpsuit. A more tailored option adds a little more polish.
Buy the right case Diane von Furstenberg once said, “When you figure out your suitcase, you figure out your life,” and I think the designer was onto something. Dragging a case with only one working wheel through Schiphol Airport as my connecting flight was seconds from closing was not my finest moment. The life of a suitcase is about ten years, and a good one will come with a guarantee for failure for parts such as zips, wheels and handles. I’m a fan of Bric’s – especially their soft-topped cases, which are lightweight and cabin-friendly. Choose any colour that’s not black or grey or add a unique tag, so it stands out on the carousel.
Bric’s suitcases, available from Brown Thomas
Overpacking is for mugs My sister and I squashed our entire summer wardrobes into our suitcases for a weeklong trip to Mexico a couple of years back. When our hotel room went on fire, taking every sundress, sandal and sarong we owned, we discovered with a free bar and a sense of humour you can happily survive with considerably less.
What was left of my hotel room (and my summer wardrobe) in Tulum, Mexico
Who needs a suitcase when your view is this good?
Rosaleen McMeel is the editor of IMAGE Magazine. The July issue featuring Alicia Vikander is on sale now.