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Style Counsel: Heidi Swanson’s Travel Kit

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Style Counsel: Heidi Swanson’s Travel Kit

March 6, 2015

I first got to know Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks and culinary shop Quitokeeto on a flight to Portland, Oregon, where she was heading to a book signing. She was decked out in a navy pea coat and riding boots; her hair was tied back and her luggage consisted of a single black valise on wheels. It was immediately apparent that she’d worked out the art of traveling. Here she shares with us her essential travel kit.

Photography by Heidi Swanson.

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Above: Swanson strolls through the Place des Vosges in Paris. She’s currently putting the finishing touches on her next book, Near & Far, a travel-related cookbook due out this summer. Photograph by Wayne Bremser.

Remodelista: How do you wrangle your luggage?

Heidi Swanson: I use a compact black Samsonite carry-on with wheels.

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Above: Swanson’s go-to uniform is built around a Sofie d’Hoore dress from MAC (Modern Appeal Clothing) in San Francisco. N.B.: We, too, are obsessed with d’Hoore’s designs. See Fashion’s Accidental Designer and There’s Something About Sofie.

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Above: Instant evening outfit: a Sofie d’Hoore dress with gold sandals from the Gap and an Erica Tanov gold wallet.

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RM: What’s your approach to packing?

HS: I’m a big believer in the Russian doll system–lots of bags within bags. I lay everything out on the bed and put together an outfit for each day. I’ll make a sketch of what I’m going to wear beforehand; I flat-pack my outfits in compact Travel Space Bags from the Container Store with all the air squished out. It makes dressing on the road super easy.

RM: Wardrobe basics?

HS: I have a few key pieces, such as a pair of riding boots from Corso Como (this is my fifth pair, I’ve worn them forever and they’ve become my uniform). I always pack some fingerless gloves as well so I can shoot a camera, work an iPhone, and stay warm.

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Above: I like to sketch out the outfits I’ll be wearing each day; it takes away the guesswork.

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RM: What’s in your travel make-up bag?

HS: Frazer Parfums Rose and Tuberose Solid Perfume in a compact, which we sell at Quitokeeto, MultiplEYE Mascara from Tarte, a Taupe Lipstick from MAC, a Nars lipstick in Jungle Red, a Nars lipstick in Schiap, and clear Butter Nail Polish. (Read about Quitokeeto here.)

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RM: Beauty essentials?

HS: I bring two small Malin + Goetz bottles of shampoo and carry a comb instead of a brush. I’m addicted to Korres Pomegranate Wipes; I use them to cleanse at the end of the day and to freshen up after a flight. Other essentials: Boots’ Organic Day Cream from the Botanics line, Aesop Lip Balm, and Weleda Wild Rose Deodorant.

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Above: I pack a vintage Bakelite bracelet and other simple pieces when I travel since I like to get through airport security quickly.

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RM: Analog or digital?

HS: I bring a Kindle Fire in a felt pouch for reading and movies; I don’t take my laptop unless I really have to. I love Moleskin notebooks for travel notes and recipes worth remembering. The pink diary is from J Crew–I still like to write down appointments. The Micron Pens are Japanese and have an extra-fine tip, which I use for book signings, and the pink MT tape is my way of making sure they don’t disappear.

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Above: Heidi’s pinboard displays story ideas for her next book and photos from her travels.

RM: Favorite places to stay when you travel?

HS: Hotels are not so important to my partner, Wayne, and I; we’d rather spend the money on other things. We’ve have good experiences with Airbnb stays. Last time we were in Paris, we did a house swap with Clotilde from Chocolate & Zucchini, which was great. We’ll also rent if we are in a place for a while. We’re pretty casual travelers.

RM: Airline food?

HS: Never. I always bring my own food in a DCI Collapsible Lunch Box. These Golden Pot Stickers are a favorite for long-haul journeys because they’re full of protein. I also drink plenty of water on a flight, nothing else.

RM: Travel tip?

HS: My friend turned me on to a small Tumi Just In Case Tote that slides on the top of the suitcase handles and stays fixed in place. I’ll wrap my cameras in a cloth and keep them there. It’s fudging the carry-on, but I’ve never been called on it yet.

RM: Next destination?

HS: I’m going to Hong Kong in June. I want to go back to Tokyo soon, and India is on the list. I would love to cook there.

For more advice, go to Bon Voyage: 10 Prep Tips for the Intelligent Traveler, and consult our guides: 

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This post is an update; it originally ran on January 27, 2012, as part of our Rustic Life issue.

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