Travel essentials- the art lover

This travel essentials post comes from a different perspective to The Adventurer, Mr Technical and my guide to getting away with a shoulder bag for the soul purpose of feeding yourself.

This is a contribution from an art lover- a close friend who when she travels nourishes herself with culture, rather than carbs.  She currently lives in London, hails from Bondi, was the creative force behind this most beautiful wedding and three years ago accompanied us to El Bulli. This piece comes with her patented sense of whimsy and was written in the wake of her most recent trip to New York.

Here are some travel essentials from an art writer (and not so closet clothes horse).

This list comes with a disclosure: essential does not necessarily mean practical. Realising in my 20s that you didn’t actually need to carry a backpack in order to backpack gave me license to pack according to my creative and sartorial whims….

Bobby pins

Surprisingly useful. They come in handy when wrangling plane hair, humid hair, bad hair and when you need a jazzy up-do for that quirky bar/nice restaurant/romantic evening stroll. Also good for those surprise Macgyver-type situations: pegging up mosquito nets, mending the loose hems of skirts…

A list of current exhibitions
In 2007 I travelled to Germany from Sydney just to see two exhibitions so I find it hard to travel anywhere without checking out the art scene in some capacity. Art is just another language and one that’s a compelling constant across countries and cultures. For me it’s fascinating to see how art is presented, interpreted, curated each place and what that might say about a city’s cultural identity. I also love a good gift shop.

Good places to start looking for exhibition listings are and Time Out in the city that you’re visiting.

At a minimum: one pair sandals, one pair flip flops, one pair converse, one pair black ballet flats. Hostel bathrooms, nice dinners, beach side dates, wet weather, warm weather – every eventuality is covered. If space is at a premium, wear the converse on the plane.

Guide book, notebook and a nice pen

I realise carrying a guidebook makes me old school these days but if you don’t have international roaming, mobile data or a local sim card, an up-to-date guide book with a good set of maps is essential. Being able to scrawl notes and addendums, dog-ear pages and circle key sights on the map keeps everything in the one place and turns the book into a functional sort of memento. You can’t do any of that with an e-book. A small notebook and a good pen are also essential for scribbling down anything else down that doesn’t fit in the margins of the guide.

An abundance of underwear
Even if I’m only going away for a weekend, I’ll still pack twice as many pairs of clean pants as I need. Long-haul flights, hostels with no hot water, somewhere to swim and not having swimmers – all these things can be ameliorated by a spare pair of pants. Clean underwear and clean teeth. Everything else can be negotiated.

Screaming babies on planes, snoring dorm-mates/husbands, noisy streets, early church bells, thin hotel walls – a good set of earplugs can right all these wrongs. My extensive research has led me to the soft silicone variety – you can mould them to your ear and they don’t pop out like those cheap foam ones tend to do. This is also where the bobby pins come in handy – loose hair and silicon earplugs make for happy friends but painful parting.

Jewellery; selection of

Two rings, four necklaces, three pairs of earrings and a bangle – that’s 24 different ways to accessorise the same white t-shirt and black jeans you’ve been wearing for the last week. No brainer.

At an absolute minimum: one pair jeans (black), two t-shirts (one grey, one white), one silk top of some description, two cardigans (one black, one not black), one pashmina, one skirt in block colour and length of your choice. Then whatever else you need weather/occasion dependent.

The Go Without Sayings
A laptop. One per travelling party is more than sufficient.
A camera and battery charger.


{ 1 Comment }
  1. Oh yay, I do love this series! I like the thought of jazzing up neutral travel attire with some bright jewelry, and the bobby pins are very useful too.

Leave a comment


{ 1 Trackback }