We travel a lot. An awful lot. And sometimes just getting to our destination can spoil an entire trip: dodgy transfers, traffic jams on the way to the airport, snaking queues at check-in, bolshy check-in staff and delayed luggage can all mar a journey. So to make the most out of each and every trip, whether that be business or pleasure, we follow a few hard-and-fast rules.
1. DO YOUR RESEARCH
It might seem a tad dull to doing a spot of research before you jet off, but we’re firm believers that knowledgeable travellers get the most out of their trips. Whether it’s hard-to-find restaurants serving the best examples of local dishes, what to buy when you’re there, or the most beautiful spot from which to sup a perfectly-poured Martini, we like to know where we’re going and what it’s all about. From basic history of the place, to where to be seen, we’re exactly the kind of person you’d love to go on holiday with.
There are so few decent guidebooks out there: we’re not clubbers, we’re not back-packers and we’re not on a budget. So where to look? These are our favourite guidebooks and they all slip beautifully into our luggage.
Wallpaper* City Guides
Small and perfectly formed, the guides give you a dash of history, tell you what to see and where to stay, plus round up the best restaurants, bars and shops. Buy them here.
Try to ignore the patois of these guides, and instead delve straight into the spot-on suggestions for food, drink and hotels. Brilliantly designed so they fold-up, map-like, and are easy to transport.
Louis Vuitton Guides
High-end all the way, this is how we love to travel. The suggestions of who, what, when and why are on the nose, thanks to input from well-heeled locals. A perfect gift for keen travellers.
You can’t move on the web for wannabe travel and food writers these days. From AA Gill-wannabes on Tripadvisor to the genuine article Giles Coren on Twitter, the web is jam-packed with travel and food suggestions. These are a couple of our favourite sites for spotting what’s new and where it’s happening:
A daily round-up of global design and beautiful things.
After we’ve booked our ticket, we go online to seatguru so that we can get tried and tested tips from seasoned travellers in order to reserve the best seat on the plane. Simple to use, it does exactly what it says it does.
A collection of reviews by published travel writers and editors.
Not just an online booking site, but also a great collection of musings by their featured writers who recommend places to see, eat, drink and shop as well as the gorgeous boutique hotels in the collection.
And while you’re online, be sure to download yourself some TV shows, movies and podcasts so that you’re viewing matter is up-to-date and current on your iPod.
2. GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
Don’t let the journey at the start of your trip leave you needing a few days to recover. Here are just a few things that we do to keep the stress levels down.
The easiest option of all – and our preferred one by far – is to book a business or first-class seat with an airline that offers free limo transfers, thereby eliminating worries regarding car parks and trains.
If your carrier of choice doesn’t offer a limo service, then cab it (and weigh car park fees, petrol and time spent parking and travelling to the terminal against the cost of the fare).
If you’re braving your own vehicle, there’s only one way to do it: by using an airport car park with its own chauffeur service. Drive up to the terminal where a driver will be waiting for you, unload, hand him the keys and head to check-in. The driver will take you car to the secured car park, park it up and will bring it back to you when you arrive home. Brilliant. Our favourite is Purple Parking: by far the cheapest, and with brilliant customer service.
BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Really? Do you have to? Plan your route fastidiously and if you’re going by train, double-check that the service you’re on doesn’t require endless changes or, worse still, a coach for a middle stretch of the journey. And pack light: as unlike train stations and airports on the Continent, our public transport system is not designed for those lugging 25-kilo bags around with them.
3. WHAT TO CARRY ON
We like to not only look great when we’re flying, but also to have everything we need to hand to make sure WE create the perfect flight for ourselves: entertainment, pampering products and comfy clothes are all packed for the flight.
* THE BAG
Our carry-on bag needs to be three things: sturdy, lightweight and crammed with pouches, zips and pockets. Whilst we do demand a modicum of style, when it comes to dragging around some of our most precious belongings, it’s all about functionality. TUMI’s new Vapor range certainly fits the bill. With its tough triple-layer polycarbonate casing the Vapor is light, easy to manoever and looks the business.
* THE SKINCARE REGIME
Elemis Pro Collage Kuartz Lift Mask
Everyone knows that sitting in airplane for even a few hours can play havoc on your skin, so if you’re in it for the long haul you need to think about a skincare regime that will counter the drying effects of the cabin. Apply to face, lips & hands after take-off and the mask will get to work on hydrating and lifting your skin. You’ll arrive looking like you’ve just stepped out of an Elemis salon.
Kiehl’s Lip Balm No.1
The drying effects of the cabin play havoc with our perfect pout, so be sure to pack the ultra-moisturising, tried and tested Kiehl’s No.1 lip balm.
How about a mini manicure whilst on high? We loved it back in the day when Virgin Atlantic offered its Upper Class guests a free inflight manicure or massage. Sadly those days are gone, so we make sure we arrive preened, thanks to the addition of a nail file and our favourite Aveda hand cream – the rather dubiously named Hand Relief – to our carry-on bag.
* THE ENTERTAINMENT
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones
You won’t comprehend the difference these headphones will make to your life if you travel extensively – or even just clock up a couple of long-haul flights a year. The clatter of the food trolley going past, the air filtration system, the blast of the engines, the crying of children back in economy and the excited natter of the young couple who have been upgraded in the seat behind you will all be lulled away beautifully to a deafening nothing. Plug into the entertainment system, and the only time you’ll need to take them off is when you’re ordering a post-prandrial whisky & ginger before flattening out your bed and snoozing in peace, headphones still securely attached.
Unless you’re travelling with airlines such as Emirates or Virgin Atlantic, where the entertainment is plentiful and, more importantly, on demand (except, in the case of Virgin’s Chicago route which, annoyingly, does not carry the in-demand service for any passengers), then it’s best to bring along your own entertainment. Pencil at least a couple of hours into your diary before your trip so that you can cherry pick the best music, video, films and podcasts to download and carry with you. Be sure to have at least four or five movies, in case your hotel’s choice of pay-for-view is lacking imagination.
Be sure to raid the airside WH Smith’s before your flight and carefully choose a couple of tomes that you can dip into on your trip: one to exercise the brain matter, one trashy that can while away a few hours on a sunlounger. We always slip a slim Penguin Classic into our carry-on so we can brush up on some retro tales and slip a copy of Heat inside our copy of Vanity Fair so we can participate in some celeb gossip whilst supping a glass of Champagne after take-off.
* THE TOOLS
Mont Blanc pen & Rhodia notepad
Creativity strikes at the most inopportune moments/after one too many G&Ts, so be sure to pack a pad and pen in your carry-on luggage. If not for inspired business ideas, at least you can pass the head purser your number, discreetly, as your disembark the aircraft. (We love Rhodia’s orange-clad grid paper – the perfect sheet of paper for obsessed list-makers like us).
To iPhone or not iPhone? That is, indeed, the question. And with the big phone companies snapping at Apple’s heels to knock them off the top of the pile, we’re interested to see how Palm’s latest model will sway us. We’re going to be testing the Pre over the coming weeks. Especially as colleagues’ iPhones seem to be chewing up data, missing messages and crashing at an alarming rate of late.
While we’re definitely going to be testing British Airways’ new all-business-class flight out of London City soon, it’s with trepidation. We’re not sure whether the idea of a wi-fi-enabled transatlantic flight is something that really appeals. The business class cabin has long been a sanctuary for us when we’re flying long-haul – no phones ringing, no pinging of our inbox. Whether we catch up on a few hours work on our laptops (well, that’s always the plan – whether that actually happens is another matter) or decide to eat and drink our way through the journey with back-to-back movie viewing, there’s something quite wonderful about an uninterrupted flight – apart from when the cute stewardess calls in to check on our red wine levels, of course. Apple’s super-slim lightweight laptop is the ideal travel companion. We load it with movies and a few pressing work documents, and if inspiration comes at 30,000 feet, we’re prepared.
5 .THE OUTFIT
As soon as the seatbelt sign has been turned off, be the first to slip into the loos to change into something more comfortable. We don’t believe in dressing down for a flight, and would rather take our comfy clothes in our carry-on than look like we’ve come back from a run before boarding. Why people think a two-piece tracksuit or a baggy pair of Abercrombie & Fitch sweat pants are correct attire for a first-class seat, we don’t know. Cashmere socks and matching cashmere trousers for the ladies is the perfect look. Gents can get away with a tracksuit bottom as long as the quality is superior and heavyweight. Velour is strictly a no-no.
Be sure to pack your Oliver Peoples sunglasses in your carry-on bag, so that the bright lights of the concourse don’t cause harm to your red eyes. Having changed back into your daywear pre-landing, you’ll look creaseless, flawless and effortless as you wait for your bags.
We always squeeze in a pair of comfy hotel slippers, borrowed from our hotel room on a previous trip. Lightweight and comfortable, they’re perfect to slip over your cashmere socks and mean that you can pad to the loo/on-board bar without getting your inflight socks soggy.
Have you got any other must-pack items? Let us know your packing list so we can create the ultimate online check-list for intrepid travellers