Travelling. For those of you who are natural-born travellers, this post may be interesting – especially because the types of travellers are many and not all of them are made equal. Over the years, my job saw me travel, even though it’s only been in recent years when I’ve started taking a flight with the same frequency other people go to the gym in a week. As an interpreter, I’m often required to fly over to reach clients and if it sounds glamourous, it does not always mean top-notch comfort of the lounge, elegant travelling or flutes of champagne in First class (even though I once got to do it…).
At first, I thought I would just go with the flow, and see on the way what I may need.
Yet, travelling – especially when back to back – can be exhausting and based on my personality I like to be in control.
I am now back from France, Tokyo and Portugal. As you may have heard in my TSF video on packing, I like to be organised. And because travelling in style is indeed possible, I wanted to expand on what I mentioned in the video in the form of a recap. Let’s start with a checklist: this should include all possible repeat items you may need when you typically travel / fly. Mine is a fairly basic one, that looks more or less like this:
- Electricals: chargers, phone, laptop, iron, straightener, power pack, headphones, pendrive, cables, adapters
- Toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, hand cream, skincare, makeup remover, toothpaste, mascara, eyeliner, lipgloss, hair oil, hayfever tablets, eye drops, painkillers, nail file.
- Admin: tickets, passport, currency, guide, notepad + pen
- Clothing: pashmina, jumper, extra tights, scarf
- Practical: plastic bags, water, nuts, protein bars, moisturizing mist, deodorant – gym kit / bathing suit, flip flops
I found a very interesting downloadable one on Ivanka Trump’s blog and I thought it was worth sharing it with you.
Of course, you also need to consider other variables:
– WEATHER WOMAN: is it summer? Is it cold? Is it very sticky? All these factors are crucial for packing and despite the fact that the weather is never so predictable, leaving with a few aces up your sleeves is always better (read: pack a bit of both worlds, light and warmer clothes).
– PACKING (IN) STYLE: I started rolling up light tees and gym kit, towels or anything that is stretchy. Socks easily go inside shoes and well, underwear too. Recently I’ve been using plastic bags – those you find at airports, for the liquids – to pack underwear, snacks, shampoo… Rolling is good if you carry shoes – esp. when high-heeled – in your handbag because they’re ideal to fill those little empty corners in between items. Of course, any item that later need ironing or is a delicate fabric goes in a plastic or linen bag, folded.
– PURPOSE-ORIENTED: are you going on a break or is it for work? Normally, for me it’s a mix of the two and that gets your life complicated as you need to pack more things and varied styles. For 2-3 days, I need 2 outfits for travel and for nights off, and interchangeable tops for trousers and skirt. Normally I adopt the technique of wearing the blazer on the plane because it doesn’t get wrinkled and it does not take all the space up in your suitcase.
– A BIT OF BOTH FOR THE PERFECT OUTFIT MIX: just be prepared in case something comes up and you suddenly need a change of plan and outfit. Last week I attended a pool party thrown by a client of mine. I had two unexpected moments to deal with… one was being thrown into the pool! The other was interpreting with a *drink in my hand*. So basically I was planning ahead and brought an outfit change – yes, I did! – and a 2nd pair of shoes. The interpreting did go well, I promise. And the mojito was just on point!
– DON’T LET YOUR WORKLOAD BE A BURDEN: organise the work you already know of, so you can spread it throughout the day. I’m a big fan of sleeping while I travel, while other people enjoy watching films – if long-haul flights – but ideally it’s the perfect time to work (even though it’s offline). I recommend putting existing open jobs on a pendrive or/and your storage (Google Drive or Dropbox) but remember you cannot access offline. I found out that every time I’m on a train, I just take that chance to rest. On planes, instead, I cannot sleep at all so I just bite the bullet and put in some work – mostly it is planning and scheduling. I also recommend you add a power station to your kit: my newest addition is a big Mophie charger that can really give me all the power I need on the go.
– STAY CONNECTED: plan to be able to deliver any job you have / make any calls or send any emails before leaving – and always check safe receipt. Just the other day I boarded a plane and I got a frantic call from a client who needed a file she never received despite the fact I had sent it at 9am. I always cc myself so I can retrieve messages and files from my iPhone too – and that’s what I did: I just resent the email from my own account. Check the country and the hotel you’re visiting to see whether they have wifi, but ideally do not rely too much on that – I recommend to never postpone to tomorrow what you could do today when it comes to the internet.
Oh Japan, you’re so kawaai
Of course I haven’t forgotten to report everything about my unforgettable short and sweet trip to Japan. As expected, it did not disappoint – just an incredible experience! My hotel was all I could ask for: 24th floor, all-round windows onto the Imperial Palace Gardens and Tokyo skyline view, along with all the comforts you can this of.
- The hotel: the Capitol Tokyu had a Nespresso in the room – with capsules promptly replaced every morning by housekeeping; a walk-in shower with an amazing aromatherapy shower head and a see-through door onto the room; dry cleaning ready in 2 hours – 2 hours!; night gowns with initials and a even a chaise longue.
- A visit to the ambassador’s residence in Roppongi. It’s a historical site too: during the Meiji era, in the garden of the villa of Ogimori Matsudaira, ten of the forty seven ronin who became famous thanks to the kabuki story Chushingura, took their lives in this garden on February 4th 1703.
- the food: everything we had was un-believable and exceeded my expectations.
- the fireworks in Yokohama: a spectacular show to celebrate Marine Day on the port near Tokyo, seen from a historical ship.
- crossing in Shibuya to catch the perfect shot – and failing at it! But I got a snap with a bunch of yukata-clad girls instead.
- my new tattoos – the crane will always remind me of Japan (and here is a partial shot of it).
- the endless stock of brightening creams and makeup I piled up from Mitsukoshi (that until 2013 had a location in Haymarket too).
- the fabulous shrines I visited – mystical and solitary, yet full of life.
Everything was perfect – they even put up a table in the middle of the room when I ordered room service…– not to mention the gym and the spa.
The weather was sticky and warm but I just managed to escape the typhoon so I was over the moon as it only rained on me 1 day out of 6. I went to shrines, to shops, to busy crossroads… Tokyo is busy but pleasant, people do not really understand a word we say but they are ever so lovely and they do try hard. And everything is so interesting and spotlessly clean. It was awkward to see that most times I was the only European-looking tourist around – must have been the non-peak season – but it was also so fascinating to suddenly feel it, and be just like Scarlett in that movie but in awe and admiration for this place ( I almost went to that hotel but I visited the Hilton in Shinjuku instead and I had the most amazing food there).
Whatever they are – memories are indeed the best reasons to be happy. And even when the trip is too long, the weather is humid or there are still so many things you could have seen or done but couldn’t, those memories should be treasured because in a way or another they’ll shape who we are as humans and as busy freelancers – because hey, when I was back, I had to catch up with work!
What the most important thing you’ve learnt from a recent trip?
From Japan, I take away the following: never underestimate the power of communication. And the power of a smile.
Enjoy the gallery!