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We’re back for la rentrée! With two new hotels we fell in love with this summer; a cram-it-in, 7-day game plan for London and Copenhagen; and the most disciplined packing edit for a 5-week trip.
Remember back when we were kids and talking about what you did for summer vacation was a thing? Does that still happen? I remember being so uncomfortable with that, since my family didn’t really take classic vacations. Yes, we would drive from Tacoma, WA, to the Bay Area to stay with my grandparents, and if I was lucky, stay in a motel on the I-5 that had a pool. But compared with everyone else, I felt like I never went anywhere.
If you’re a Yolo magazine reader, or you’ve listened to some of the podcasts I’ve been on, this is not news to you–but for those of you who haven’t heard my travel beginnings, let’s just say that the lack of travel in my youth spurred a voracious appetite for it later. But it also instilled in me a deep understanding that not everyone gets to go somewhere, and not everyone wants to hear about where you went—and to be sensitive to that.
Last summer, I think I actually traveled too much (maybe we all did?). I’m sure a lot of that was a result of two summers of restrictions–but I remember feeling equal parts exhausted and exhilarated by the end of the summer. This year, I promised myself to slow down, and I did. We didn’t leave our home in France for six weeks (with the exception of a birthday weekend road trip), and did lots of bike rides, berry and plum picking, flower foraging, eating, drinking, running, swimming…and it was bliss. Yes, we made some great new discoveries in our own Medoc backyard, which I’ll be adding into our France Travel Planner, but for the most part, we just relaxed. I even made good on my promise to not bring my laptop on our Greece vacation, taking lots of notes in my journal instead (which I’ll be sharing in my Greece Dispatch next week).
But back to the la rentrée! The reentry! Il rientro! We have a lot of things planned for this fall. Besides some Black Books we’re excited about (including Lisbon, Berlin, Egypt and Mexico City), we’re introducing Pain Points, a column in which we’ll take on your (our!) biggest travel frustrations and confusions—including how to get the most from your frequent flier miles and accounts, when and whether you need travel health insurance—tapping the experts for their intel. Because as we always say, we know what we know (and do well) here at Yolo, and also what we don’t.
Speaking of experts… On the culture front, we couldn’t be more excited about our friends at Air Mail launching AIR (Arts Intel Report)—a constantly updated guide to what’s happening in the art/music/theater/dance world in many key cities. It’s highly edited (meaning they aren’t giving you a long list of every single thing to do on a certain weekend in Paris), and we trust them implicitly (we’ve known most of their editors for ages and they are like family!).
We also visited a lot of hotels this summer—and today we’re giving you our take on two new favorites. In a fun first for us, we’ve got a husband-wife team sharing stories side by side in the same newsletter. Charleston restaurateur/entrepreneur Brooks Reitz (who also writes the excellent food/travel-focused newsletter, A Small and Simple Thing), divulges a packed 7-day itinerary to London and Copenhagen adapted from their family trip this summer, while his wife, Erin—fashion designer and founder of E.M. Reitz, a shirting and dress brand we love—shares her packing (and folding) strategy with us.
GUEST BOOK: Grand Hotel Son Net, Mallorca, Spain
By Alex Postman
Best for… A peaceful getaway on the largest Balearic island, completely insulated from tour buses and beach parties
The look and feel… Elegant maximalism is the phrase that comes to mind to describe this 17th century palace-hotel, once owned by a Spanish noble family and recently transformed by the team behind the iconic Finca Cortesin in Andalucia. From its ivy-choked pink walls surrounded by profuse Mediterranean gardens to antiques-filled rooms swathed from molding to flooring in sumptuous prints, the place is just exuberantly tasteful. That’s thanks to Madrid-based interior designer and collector Lorenzo Castillo, who has filled every niche with oil paintings, European and Moorish antiques, colorful porcelains and other treasures, while also leaving original details like rustic beams, stone floors, and antique fireplaces alone. The hotel is open year-round (which is rare for Mallorca), and I can see how it can easily swing from light and airy to dark and cozy.
The surroundings… Son Net sits up on a hill overlooking the Sierra Tramuntana and the village of Puigpunyent, which has a few little shops and a market. (Palma is about 25 minutes east.) The grounds are completely magical—beyond the citrus groves, flowering palms, ancient windblown cypresses and herby tufts of rosemary and lavender are hillsides that house the property’s farm, with roving sheep, donkeys, and chickens, and a 1-hectare vineyard of Malvasia, from which they make their own wine. The place to be, especially in the pulverizing Mallorcan summer sun, is by the long saltwater pool bordered by the chicest cabanas.
The rooms… There are 31 rooms split between the palace, pool cottages, and the pool cottage house. The rooms in the palace are like museums—the Grand Suite Maria de Napoles has original 17th-century frescoes, while the Grande Suite Jaime III is full of vintage Chinoiserie. I stayed in one of the 4 pool cottage suites—more modern rooms still wrapped in yards of toile, checks and florals—which share a swimming pool. Each one has a huge marble bathroom (with the largest bath towels ever) that looks out onto the pool and gardens beyond it. There’s also a stone pool cottage, which is the only place that (well-behaved) children are allowed to stay.
The wellness… The spa, on a slope below the pool, was still under construction when I visited, but is expected to open later this fall. I did get a peek and it looks amazing—with walls of red marble from Alicante, there are 5 treatment rooms in what will be the biggest spa on Mallorca, with a full gym. In the meantime, there is always plenty of hiking and cycling in the area.
The food… Meals are served at the Mar & Duix restaurant in a room that was an old stone-walled olive press (or outside on the terrace), and were a perfect balance between haute and humble. Local Mallorcan chef Sergio Olmeda sent out a wine-pairing dinner of lobster stew with sea fennel and sauteed squid with sobrasada (a Mallorcan pork) one night, then on another, a whole chicken roasted in clay that we broke open with a mallet. The sides were some of the most deliciously simple, fresh dishes I had all summer, like beetroot tartare, gazpacho, and grilled avocado with pesto. Don’t skip the vegetable paella.
The Green Bar (tufted green leather siding, blackwatch plaid chairs) also serves tapas all day; they make a delicious G&T with a local gin, and the prettiest paloma topped with flowers. The room came alive at night, but I could see spending many cozy afternoons here by the fire in winter.
Be sure to… Take a day out on a sailboat exploring southwest Mallorca’s coast and swimmable coves—there’s also excellent yacht-gawking in Palma. You can easily fill a day in the city visiting the gigantic sand-colored cathedral, with its unique marine-themed religious frescoes inside, (Palma has long been the summer seat of the King of Spain), scouting the Art-Nouveau architecture, as well as some good restaurants and artisan shops (I picked up a straw bag at Mimbreria Vidal).
Parting words… The hotel’s “privacy” door hanger is an engraved brass metal plaque with thick knotted green silk tassel cord, and represents everything I loved about the Son Net: the discretion, the elegance, and attention to every detail.
Date of stay… July 2023
Alex Postman is Yolo Journal’s deputy editor
GUEST BOOK: Hotel Drei Berge, Mürren, Switzerland
By Frank Herrmann
Best for… A hiking or ski trip, or a quick weekend from Zurich (when you live in Switzerland, as we do).
A little backstory… When I heard that Ramdane Touhami and his wife, Victoire de Taillac-Touhami—the founders of Officine Universelle Buly 1803—were opening their first hotel in Mürren in the Bernese Oberland, I immediately booked a superior room without seeing any photos and before the hotel was even open. They’ve given the Hotel Drei Berge, which dates to 1907, a second life.
The look and feel… Ramdane calls himself an “anarchomountaineer,” which can be felt in the hotel’s new design. While the exterior (to be completed this winter) remains traditional and painted in a dark-green shade in the character of a fairytale mountain hut, inside is more modern clubhouse, with a wild mix of colors and speakers blaring out contemporary music. In this eclecticism you can decipher the strong hand of the detail-obsessed owner everywhere. Expect Drei Berge-branded custom bed linens, towels, chinaware, etc. The public spaces, like the lounge and restaurant, have a homey feeling, with traditional Swiss mountain features carried over from the hotel’s previous era.
The rooms… Not all rooms have yet undergone a transformation. The new rooms have a chalet-like feeling with cozy beds, traditional woodwork, and playful elements like mountaineering badges. The most spectacular part, of course, is the breathtaking view of the three mountains that give the hotel its name: the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau (the Ogre, the Monk, the Young Girl).
The wellness… is right at your footsteps outdoors, be it hiking, paragliding, mountain biking, or skiing. The hotel staff is very helpful in getting you organized. While we lay around and read books against that beautiful scenery, our friend went on an 8-hour hike and absolutely loved it. As a guest, you can use the nearby swimming pool, the sauna in the sports center (only a few minutes’ walk away), and a most unreal tennis court situated on a cliff that drops down 1,600 meters, so if your balls go over, they are truly lost.
The food… A rather atypical mix of Swiss, Italian and Asian served in a traditional mountain hut dining room (more changes to come, we were told). The “pot of luck,” a roasted chicken with exceptionally seasonal vegetables, and the traditional chicken Cordon Bleu oozing cheese, were both outstanding. Don’t forget the exquisite cocktail list, which you can enjoy on the outdoor terrace, the restaurant, or the lounge area—we went heavy on the Negronis.
Extra tip goes to… Ramdane, who is such a colorful storyteller—if he is around, make sure to introduce yourself.
Be sure to… To visit the car-free town of Mürren. You have to take a cable-car first, followed by a mountain train which is all part of the experience—once you arrive, you are on the plateau with the aforementioned view of the three mountains. It’s fascinating to see how the reflection of the sun and shade throughout the day changes the view. Mürren is a traditional mountain village, so expect picture-perfect wooden huts and loads of geraniums (when you visit in summer). It’s petite and easy to walk; and don’t leave without your souvenir, maybe that Swiss-Army knife you always wanted?
Parting words… We will be back for this out-of-time experience and are curious to see how the overall hotel continues to transform, thanks to Ramdane and Victoire’s boundless energy.
Date of stay… September, 2023
Frank Hermann is a Zurich- and Paris-based strategy consultant and the other half of #f2ontour, who always has a little calendar with him outlining a three-month rolling itinerary with a focus on architecture, art, history, and food. His next big trip will be to Uruguay during festive season for the temporada.
ITINERARY: A busy week in London & Copenhagen, with a big stomach and a thirst for adventure
By Brooks Reitz
In our family, we take two kinds of trips—either languid and loose (out in the country or by a beach), or we pack it in (visiting a city). In a city, the hum of activity outside the walls of a hotel beckons at all times. And great cities offer an embarrassment of riches; I have a hard time slowing down. I want to see that show, this exhibit, have a drink here, a snack there, walk this street, check out that shop. A little planning is key, with space for spontaneity. Below is our own field guide to tearing up London and Copenhagen for a week, getting steps in, and leaving inspired.
Day 1 — TOUCH DOWN — REGENTS PARK — MARYLEBONE EVENING
Touching down in London I’m tired from bad sleep and I want to be ushered to my hotel door. That's why I always choose the Black Cab for this leg of the journey. The beauty of the Black Cab is “the knowledge.” You tell these guys where you want to go, and they take you. No “corner of this” or “in this neighborhood.” You could save a few coins on the express train, but that means a transfer and more bag schlepping and I’ve learned that when you travel you’ve got to put the right value on convenience.
We stay in Marylebone because it has loads of charm and is close to main points of interest. It’s a little village, with thriving businesses, a lot of great restaurants, and a bustling (but not TOO bustling) high street. I love it for its lodging options, too. Chiltern Firehouse at the high end, or Durrant's Hotel on a budget. Both are special in their own ways, and depending on the stock market, I'll be a baller or a pauper! I suggest a slow roll on the first day—a coffee at the hotel and a run in Regent's Park to shake off the jet lag. A late lunch at the Chiltern Firehouse bar (one of the finest in the world) is easy London living at its best. And a stroll through the Chiltern Street shops—so many good ones! An amazing newsagent (magazine shop), Monocle, Trunk, Mouki Mou, Niwaki, Bryceland's, Sunspel—it's a heavy-hitting retail street. For an early dinner the first night, I suggest St. John Marylebone; it's like the Cheers of the neighborhood: always open, friendly staff, exquisite (and very British) food, and a brilliant location along Marylebone Lane. We like the seats on the lane for great people watching and cool London nights. Eat light (though St. John is known for their meat, they do brilliant fish and veg), and try to limit the booze the first evening. If you go to bed early you can hope for a long, restorative sleep to kick off the trip.
Day 2: SOHO — COVENT GARDEN — CHARING CROSS
Up with the sun. I like pancakes and grotesque amounts of Americanos in the Ladder Shed (the portion of the bar reserved for guests at Chiltern). We have a particular approach to coffee drinking on vacation. We always choose Americanos, because overseas it is the sensible alternative to an American-style brewed coffee. The upside is less caffeine, so you get to savor more than you might back home. This leaves room for a "fun coffee" later in the day, which is what my wife and I have midday when we don't necessarily need the caffeine, but we want to take part in the cafe culture of a place we're visiting.
After a quick run through Regent's Park again and clean-up, I point the compass to Soho, a close neighbor. It is a circus, a teeming mass of people and energy that I'd usually find off-putting, but Soho has a charm and a verve that feels quintessentially London, and it just sucks you in. We will pop into a few shops before lunch at a Soho favorite, Quo Vadis. The eel sandwich is one of the best bites in all of the Big Smoke, and the rest of Jeremy Lee's cooking is seasonal, succulent, and undeniably British. After lunch, another languid stroll over to Covent Garden, where we stop for a "fun coffee" at Monmouth Coffee before an epic browse through one of our favorite shops, Choosing Keeping. We discovered it years ago on Columbia Road and it has since moved into these larger digs. Think papers, pens, beautiful desk accessories, cards, and small, elegant gifts. It’s a brilliant, thoughtful edit that is getting harder to find as shops become similar from town to town.
Then a pop down to 180 Studios, which always has a great show on. This time it was “Wes Anderson's Asteroid City,” with set pieces, costumes, and ephemera from his recent film. A great show for all ages that gives more than it asks of you as the viewer. For a more robust experience, the National Portrait Gallery (which has just reopened) is spectacular. The history of England told through portraiture, up to the modern day. A brilliant premise, and a spectacular collection always thoughtfully curated.
For dinner, a dip back into Soho, with the nighttime energy at a new volume. For seasonal cookery you'll want Duck Soup, where you can vibe out with young London. Or Kiln for live fire Thai cooking with a punchy energy and punchier food. Spice is nice! If there's a wait, the Negroni at Bar Termini is another reminder that the simple three-ingredient classic never ceases to thrill, especially in the hands of London's best bartenders. After dinner, another stroll through bustling London streets into the calm of Marylebone to retire for the night.
Day 3: SOUTH BANK — TATE MODERN — BOROUGH MARKET
One last full day in London before heading off to Copenhagen. I opt for room service because it's a rare treat and the robes at the Chiltern (and the fireplace in the room!) ask you to spend a bit more time here. Instead of lunch in a restaurant, I suggest heading down the street to Paul Rothe & Son, a centuries-old sandwich shop and deli serving classic British fare. The order here is the Coronation Chicken Sandwich, their "known for" and a stupefying good meal and great value, to boot. My wife and I can share one sandwich, if we're being honest with ourselves. Ask for it to go and head off on a long walk to the South Bank with Tate Modern in your sights. There's a great lawn in front of the Tate with sunbathers and lollygaggers, and a proper spot for a sit and your sandwich. Inside, there is always a show worth savoring. This time: Hilma af Klint. After the Tate, take a long stroll along the water before heading deeper in for a romp through Borough Market. Amongst the hoi polloi, you'll still find some of London's best produce, immaculate oysters, and any other comestible one might conjure. It would be criminal not to have a bite. Perhaps a chorizo roll from Brindisa, a London classic. Or pop into Wright Bros. for ale and oysters. Fortified, make your way to 40 Maltby Street, still one of London's best-kept secrets. The food cognoscenti know it well, and its rewards are many. A glass of natty wine amongst the cool kids is in order before catching a ride back to the hotel. Then I like to stay in the hood—Marylebone has a chill vibe that is nice after a big day and a high step count. Trishna, around the corner from Chiltern Firehouse, is one of my favorite spots for Indian in a country where the national dish is (or should be) curry.
Day 4: KENSINGTON GARDENS — NOTTING HILL — COPENHAGEN!
A late afternoon flight out gives a morning to cross a couple more hits off the list. Post breakfast, head West to Hyde Park—specifically the Diana Memorial Playground, which our 3.5-year-old son, Hoyt, loves to explore. This is the give and take—we watch him play so he will watch us eat later. Traveling with kids tends to be one big negotiation. From here, we make a straight shot into Notting Hill for an early lunch at The Pelican, one of London's brightest, newest young things. On its face, it's a great neighborhood pub. But the room wears a sophisticated cloak; the food is elevated but familiar—standards reworked with a lighter touch, a sharper eye. The whole package is really great. After lunch, it's back to the hotel to grab bags and head to the airport. Copenhagen awaits, and the promises of long (I mean LONG) summer days, bike rides, and hot blonde Danes.
A late flight puts you in around dinner time. Our destination is an Airbnb in Fredericksberg, which I favor for its quiet, the sweet cafes, the family-friendly vibe, and Fredericksberg Park—a stunning green space that, like Regent's Park, is ideal for a morning run. Morning run means more room for fun—i.e. wine.
For dinner, hop on a Donkey Republic Bike (their version of NYC's Citi Bike), which is so much easier than renting. Head down to the Meatpacking District for dinner once you're settled. It's nearby, gets a fun crowd, and offers up a bevy of casual options for your first night. We head to Kødbyens Fiskebar, one of the city's best seafood spots. For a nightcap, BIRD back in Fredericksburg is one of the city's best bars and a good chill vibe for a first evening.
DAY 5: FREDERICKSBERG — TIVOLI —NYHAVN— ISLANDS BRYGGE — REFFEN
If you're keen on an early run, you're in the right place: in summer, it's bright outside by 4am. Then carve a path to breakfast at Hart Bageri for a Cardamom Croissant. There are a lot of opinions about pastries in Copenhagen. Mine is: I've tried the rest, Hart is the best. (They've got a few locations around town.) Then, to Italo Caffe for my favorite coffee in Copenhagen. It sits on a street they call "Little Paris" and is full of cute storefronts and shops, florists, a great butcher, and in a sure sign of the times: Aesop and APC.
Then off to Tivoli, Copenhagen's storied amusement park. You could walk, but in Copenhagen you're only ever a block or two away from a bike (again, Donkey Republic) or a bus stop, and there is no reason to be in a car at any point. Tivoli is a hoot for adults and kids alike: rides, bars, live music, a bustling food hall. The kind of place I would hate in America, but when done with the charm of the Danes, it is irresistible, plus my son LOVES it. You could grab lunch at one of their countless sit-down restaurants, which are all better than you'd expect. One in particular, Kilden, is one of my favorites in the entire city.
But for today, we are off to the nerve center of the city: Nyhavn. It's the beautiful ship-lined canal you might recognize from every Instagram ever. It is wall-to-wall with tourists and the restaurants they seem to favor, but our son loves the boats, and just off the main drag is one of the best smorrebrod restaurants in the city: Told & Snaps. I love the chic, simple room and the quality of the cooking. Smorrebrod is the quintessential Danish dining experience: think open-faced sandwiches, but on top of their distinctive seedy rye bread (called rugbrod) and showcasing the region’s seafood. And mayonnaise. Lots of it. At Told & Snaps it would be criminal not to wash it all down with a pour of Carlsberg and a few rounds of homemade schnapps. Be warned—there is power in those pours.
After lunch there is nothing to do but take a dip in the icy waters of the canal to shake off the schnapps. Fortunately, Copenhagen has normalized the midday swim with a variety of "swimming holes" across town. My favorite public swimming spot is Islands Brygge, and last trip I jumped off the 4-story diving tower and hit the water so hard I lost my hearing for three weeks. So perhaps you're best served heading to a chiller spot: La Banchina. This is your typical combination swimming lagoon/natural wine bar/outdoor grill/sauna. You can chill on the dock, drink a little natural cider, take a dip, and luxuriate in the romance of a sunny Copenhagen summer day. I suggest whiling the day away here until you work up an appetite. A detour at Copenhagen Contemporary might be in order, where the James Turrell exhibit delivered my son and me the most powerful experience—we enjoyed one of his light rooms together, in total silence, for 10 minutes. Afterward, you might start thinking about dinner. Good news is, you're just below Reffen Street Food, the street food collective to end all, and a brilliant showcase of Copenhagen's creative, DIY ethos. There are stalls with something for everyone, as well as a mini skate-park, and loads of outdoor space to eat. If you're not hungry yet, I like a beer at Mikkeller Baghaven next door for the ne-plus ultra of Copenhagen beer brewers. If you've got any juice left after dinner, God help you because you've got a stronger constitution than me.
DAY 6: LOUISIANA MUSEUM — BELLEVUE BEACH — DYREHAVEN
Copenhagen is home to many world-class museums, but none better than the Louisiana, just north of the city. We walk to the nearest train station after our customary Cardamom Croissant and coffee. Louisiana’s permanent collection is a heavy-hitting roster of art world heavyweights. If you're thinking it, they've got it. The campus is perched above the Niva Bugt bay: crystal waters as far as the eye can see. You can spend the better part of the day here. Take in a portion of the collection and make time for lunch at the museum's cafe. I like to take a seat on the veranda overlooking the water, in the shadow of a hulking outdoor Calder sculpture. There’s a little grassy knoll just beyond, where all the visiting children take turns rolling down the hill and running back up. We live to divide and conquer after lunch, taking turns with our son in the three-story children's wing, where kids are encouraged to create their own version of works in the collection with clay, watercolor, colored pens, and BUCKETS of yellow Legos.
Afterwards, if it’s nice, we like to go a bit further south to Bellevue Beach. The seaside community is a smorgasbord of public and private works created by renowned Danish architect Arne Jacobsen. This is a great place to decompress (and dip) after the intensity of a great museum experience. If you prefer green space, the palatial Deer Park is next door. 4 miles of forest and trails awaiting exploration.
Late afternoon, it's best to be train-bound back into the city. After a long day like this, I'm keen to cook at home, and since we're in an AirBNB, that's possible! The train drops us off right outside Torvehallerne, the city's premier food market. This is the Borough Market of Copenhagen, and I'm grabbing some Faroe Islands salmon, some Danish cheese, and handfuls of the impeccable produce that sits at the center of the market. A restorative dinner at home is just what we need to ease into our final full day in the city.
Day 7: Bryghuspladsen — Sankt Annæ Plads — Fælledparken — Vesterbro
On our final day, we want to fit in one more museum that pleases us all. For me, it's the DAC, or Danish Architecture Centre, the Lego-inspired building that overlooks the main canal. There are great kids’ activities, a massive slide from top to bottom, and thoughtful, interesting installations tracking the best of Danish architecture and design. Afterward, we lean into our tourist tendencies with a canal boat tour departing nearby. We see the entire city and the tour guide is smart, witty, and multilingual, and our son loves being on the water. And then, lunch: a final smorrebrod experience at another institution, Restaurant Sankt-Annae. The room is petite, regal, and so cool in its resolute commitment to remaining the same. The food is another parade of things on toast—this time I'm going for roast beef with remoulade and crispy onions, washed down with an icy Pilsner. For dessert, strawberries in cream. Have you had Danish strawberries? Have you had Danish cream? If not, you have not lived. There is a purity, a resonance, an intensity that announces: this is as good as it gets.
Post lunch we are back on the bikes, playground bound. There are great playgrounds around the city, but we have one in mind: The Traffic Playground. This smaller park sits inside the grounds of the larger Fælledparken. It is a collection of streets, traffic lights, road signs and pretend gas stations, all sized for kids. It is intended to give children the confidence to explore their city by bicycle. We post up on a bench while our son explores on the provided push bikes (and real ones for older kids) and an hour later, we narrowly avoid a breakdown by promising a treat if we can leave peacefully. Success!
We stop for an ice cream at the nearby Østerberg Ice Cream, one of Copenhagen's best, before treating Dad to his own kind of ice cream: CLOTHES. We peruse the racks of multi-brand retailer Goods, which is perhaps my favorite edit of any menswear store: Drake's, Sunspel, LEJ, Orslow, Boglioli - a lot of heavy hitters. I take home a couple of shirts and a weekend pocketbook.
We head back home for a refresh and to meet the babysitter we've arranged for the evening, and Mom and Dad are off to Hotel Sanders’ extremely sexy bar for a properly made Negroni. Dinner is at Resto Bar, an Italian spot that gets a chic crowd and does Italian food properly: expertly sourced and minimally messed with. The rabbit ragu is the best I've had, and the wine list is full of gems. It's a great send off, cool and adult, and our mile walk home means we have room for just one…more…dish.
HOW I PACK
By Erin Reitz
What’s your go-to luggage and why?
We have a strict no checked bags rule in our family. It is so important to us that I think I can actually call it a family tenant. It really hit home after a recent trip—I had to check a bag for a trunk show and when I got home I waited 30 minutes for it to arrive when all I wanted to do was get home to see my son. I vowed to only carry-on from that point…and if it’s a work trip I will ship whatever else I need to its destination. I use an Away carry-on and I like it. While I am forever jealous of my husband’s Rimowa because of how timeless cool it is…I actually think I can fit more in mine.
How do you approach the basics?
This is my packing superpower. The edit. The focus. I recently went on a 5-week trip. This trip included warm weather and cold. It included playgrounds, and fancy dinners. This is what I packed:
This is going to sound like a plug for my brand. (It is.) But it is also the truth! I strictly only pack E.M.Reitz shirts. That is not only because I love them and truly believe they are the softest, most luxurious, highest quality shirts. But also it helps me to figure out what I need to add to the line next. If I ever feel like I am missing something, then I can design into that.
The Baker’s Apprentice x3 : The everyday warrior, ride or die, loose fitting, button down. I wear it with the sleeves rolled up for my everyday short sleeve warm weather shirt, then unroll the sleeves and button to layer under a blazer or sweater for warmer or fancier occasions. I pack one solid color, one chambray and one patterned.
The Tailor’s Tunic x1: This is my butt-covering, coverall of a shirt. Looks so chic with a wide trouser and slip on shoes, or makes a great swim coverup.
Lunch at Quo Vadis x1: This is my most ladylike shirt; I like to wear it to fancy lunches as the name suggests. I tuck in the blouse and pop a blazer on to feel polished, or unbutton one too many buttons to reveal a little too much as I sip on a Negroni in a dimly lit bar.
I pack 1 pair of black or raw denim, 1 pair of casual cotton or linen trousers, and a silk trouser.
Cashmere Sweater X 1 (My favorite is a Rubato Mens V-Neck or my Atelier Bomba, both in Navy). I’ll bring one linen or cashmere blazer—I love the linen Massimo Alba blazers; and my cashmere is a Brooks Brothers black fleece that I bought on sale 15 years ago and still cherish and wear regularly.
Cotton scarf with pop of color ( 45Rpm) and a silk Hermès Twilly scarf with pop of color
Belgian Shoes X 1 (black velvet or brown leather)
Brooks Hyperion Running Shoes X 1 I love this sneaker because it is a very light to pack, yet very supportive running shoe. They change the colors seasonally and honestly most are hideous. But if you can find a simple color combo they actually look really cute as a walk around town shoe in addition to being a travel work out shoe.
One bathing suit, two workout outfits, two sleep t-shirts (always Alabama Chanin organic boxy tee), 5 pairs of day underwear and 5 night underwear, 2 black bras.
Are you a roller or a folder?
Always a flat fold. I had many years of working in retail, so flat stacking is a passion.
What’s always in your Dopp kit/toiletry bag?
Dr. Hauschka Soothing Cleansing Milk and Rose Day Cream. These come in travel size tubes and I have been a devoted user for 20+ years. An old friend of mine said this line is a perfect combination of nature and science! I find that to be true—it’s natural but effective.
Old Spice Deodorant- I have been using this deodorant for 20+ years. I tried every natural deodorant I could find, and they always made me smell worse. I scoured the women’s deodorant aisle for aluminum-free and couldn’t find one. This deodorant is aluminum free, smells like a man when you put it on, but within minutes you smell like nothing! It works so well. Bonus, when I started dating my husband 10 years ago I discovered he wears the same one…so we only have to pack one for the trip!
Dr. Tungs Smart Floss - finally a floss that doesn’t use that plastic container, and it has an addictive grippy texture. Also Q-Tips, tweezers, nail clippers, and my trusty metal tongue scraper.
On a plane, what essentials does your carry-on bag always contain?
I always have a roll on bag and a shoulder tote—a big LL Bean Boat and Tote. In my tote I have:
a stupid heavy laptop (need to work on this), one book, glasses/sunglasses, Muji Notebook and pens to record inspiration or sketch along the way, a journal, my charger zip bag—we reuse the little bags you get from business class flights (I saved these bags from my many overseas trips while working in corporate clothing design)
The Goē oil was given to me right after I gave birth to my son. The smell will forever remind me of that time, so therefore it is very special to me. It doesn’t come in travel size. So I keep my tubes that are almost done and fold them into this zip bag. I put on my hands and neck before I travel to combat the dry plane air, but also to smell something that makes me feel calm and happy for the flight.
The Aquaphor is kind of funny. About 20 years ago before I took my first overseas work trip my boss at the time told me to put Vaseline in my nose before a trip. She swore it would keep me from getting sick. So I have done it EVER SINCE for long flights! Who knows if it works…but what I love is that it keeps your nostrils moist! There is nothing worse than trying to sleep on a plane and having your nostrils burn from being so dry! I prefer Aquaphor over vaseline now, because it's a little less goopy. I slather it with no shame up my nose, around my nose, and on my lips before a flight. I look so glossy it's hilarious, but I bet I get better sleep than people who don’t do it!
What’s your pharmacy kit?
I always bring a few Advil pills, a few NyQuil pills, and a few Imodium. Just in case you're feeling sick right before bed and you don’t have time/energy to head to a pharmacy. Besides my prescriptions I love to rely on local pharmacies. Especially for overseas trips it is thrilling to try new products. I have a “grass is always greener” mentality when it comes to European pharmacies. I am convinced all products and OTC meds are better than in the states. Sunscreen is something I NEVER pack so I can treat myself to a new exciting bottle that smells good and makes me feel sexy. Those smells stick with me. I can still remember what my sunscreen smelled like in 2007 when I was on a trip to Portugal. Orange Blossom, mmmmm — that was the best tan of my life.
Any wisdom on traveling with electronics?
My husband found fantastic, simple cord labels on Amazon. As a couple we bring one set of chargers. If several wires fit into one charging dock we just bring one dock, and put all coordinating wires labeled in a small zip bag (our favorite is a Tumi bag from a fore-mentioned previous flight). This bag goes into my shoulder tote for easy access.
Do you have a travel uniform?
I love to travel in head to toe denim, the Texas tuxedo, is that what it’s called? Let’s call it the travel tuxedo. The reason for this I find chambray to be the most forgiving travel shirt in that it’s soft, breathable, if I get sweaty it is thick enough it doesn’t show it. Also denim doesn’t wrinkle and it barely shows stains, even the inevitable spilled coffee stains blend in.
I wear a chambray shirt and jeans with whatever blazer I have brought on the trip. I always wear my sneakers in the airport for comfort and nice to have my less bulky shoes in my carryon.
I top this off with a gauzy cotton scarf wrapped around my neck bandana style. I like to cover my neck in the plane to guard from the aggressive onslaught of filtered air…and if I feel the need for more protection I’ll just slip the scarf over my face for full coverage. It’s sort of a safety blanket for me. My favorite are the lightweight 45Rpm square bandanas.
Erin Reitz is a designer based in Charleston, South Carolina. After two decades of designing for brands including Anne Taylor and Anne Klein, Erin started a collection of elevated yet approachable shirts made to be worn, loved and lived in.