Roopal Patel is not your average Fashion Director—of course, by day, she’s decked to the nines in designer duds, cruising the polished floors of one of the most famous department stores in the world, but once on vacation she trades in her fancy frocks for sleek swimsuits as she travels the globe surfing in some of the most sought after destinations on the planet…so we’re thinking she should add ‘Surfer Babe’ to her already impressive résumé (just a thought, Roopal, just a thought). Here, she chats with us about her luggage (it’s bright red and branded with her initials, naturally), her favorite souvenirs, and the superstitious item she keeps with her wherever she goes.
City you call home?
New York City.
How often do you travel?
I travel quite often—at least twice a month. I travel for work, fun or a mix of both.
How many countries have you visited?
Too many to count! Some of the places I have been are India, Kenya, London, France, Germany, Spain, Mexico, and Argentina.
Favorite destinations to travel to?
I love warm, tropical and exotic locations—places like Phuket, Punta del Este, India and Capri.
Where’s your “happy place” to visit?
I treasure my lazy summer days in Capri at La Fontelina or the winter surf in Nosara, Costa Rica.
What was your last vacation and where will your next one be?
I just returned from a surf tip in Maderas Village in Nicaragua! It was a magical trip with some great connections—I highly recommend it. My friends and I are also planning a trip to Patmos—I’ve never been to Greece and I’m really excited!
What brand of luggage do you use?
I have a collection of T. Anthony luggage in red engraved with my initials “RBP”. The collection has traveled with me everywhere via trains, planes, boats and automobiles. If my luggage could tell a story, it would tell you about its trip to Capri…I was in Amsterdam, en route to Capri, and my luggage somehow lost its way. It magically arrived on the hydrofoil nearly four days later!
What brand of carry-on do you use?
I travel with my T. Anthony red carry-on, branded with my initials “RBP”.
What brand of camera do you bring?
I use LUMIX for travel shots, and my GoPro for surfing…but I tend to gravitate towards my iPhone mostly.
Any Aman Resort in the world.
What are your in-flight travel essentials?
I keep a pouch that holds all my travel essentials which are; Aesop Ginger Flight Therapy, La Mer moisturizer, Tata Harper Hydrating Floral Essence spray, Kiehl’s lip balm, and Yogi antioxidant green tea.
Aisle or window?
Definitely the aisle. When I’m flying I love glancing at the clouds and sun. The sunrise and sunset are my favorite moments.
Preferred in-flight beverage?
Sparkling water with lemon.
Airplane food or bring your own?
I usually bring snacks on the plane. I eat nuts, pretzels, and peanut M&M’s, always with a bottle of water. There is nothing worse than being stuck on a plane without snacks to tide you over.
What music is on your travel playlist?
I love creating travel playlists, especially for my surf trips. My Costa Rica surf trip playlist included:
“Sundream” by Rüfüs
“My. Bobby” by Manu Chao
“Harvest Moon” by Poolside
“Enjoy the Silence” by Depeche Mode
“Could You Be Loved” by Bob Marley
Gadget you can’t leave home without?
My iPhone—it is the travel gadget to have in any city or country.
Do you have any travel rituals or superstitions?
I always carry an evil eye within my wallet to ward off negative energy. My wallet was stolen once in Paris, yet returned the next day. I honestly believe the thief saw the evil eye and returned it in order to avoid any unwanted negative energy.
What’s your go-to uniform for the plane?
I love a black sweater, white t-shirt, white jeans and a slip on sneaker or espadrilles.
What’s the one item you never leave town without?
A bikini and a rashguard. You never know when the opportunity to surf will present itself. I love Lisa Marie Fernandez swimsuits. I buy one every season, and for every new holiday. For my last surf trip to Nicaragua I brought a new pair of Thorsun shorts to surf in and a new, white Marysia bikini.
How do you deal with jet lag?
I immediately acclimate myself to the country’s time zone. It’s the best way for me to beat jet lag.
How do you manage your health & eating routine when you’re away from home?
At home, I make a green smoothie every morning in my Vitamix; it’s a blend of almond and hemp milk, bananas, spinach, kale, green apples, cinnamon and chia seeds. On vacation, I look for healthy options but I try to experience new and local cuisines.
What’s your exercise routine when you’re on the road?
It depends on my location. I aim to book a class or trainer in each destination. When in Los Angeles, I book an early surf session with Aloha Brothers at 7:00am in Venice Beach. Surfing is the best way to start my day.
What’s the first thing you do when you get into your hotel room?
Firstly, I gather and hide all hotel pamphlets and magazines. Secondly, I unpack and light candles. This helps the room feel a bit more like home, especially on long trips.
Are you an over-packer or under-packer?
I am an over-packer. I have learned that it is best to be prepared for anything life throws your way.
What beauty-essentials do you travel with?
Surf Mud sun protection (for my time spent in the water), Tata Harper Revitalizing Body Oil (post surfing), Crème de la Mer Eye Cream, Aesop Parsley facial moisturizer, Laura Mercier bronzer, and NARS lip gloss. Jo Malone grapefruit scented body lotion is also one of my staples.
My Clarisonic facial scrubbing brush always comes with me as do things like Q-tips, and I also pack Beauty Dust by Moon Juice, green chlorophyll drops, and probiotics. I like Julien Farel Vitamin shampoo and conditioner. I never pack a hairdryer—I just use the one in the hotel. I’m pretty low-maintenance with my hair…occasionally I’ll add a few drops of Moroccanoil to it to tone down the frizz post surf session.
Favorite item to order from room service?
Coffee every morning to start the day.
Favorite item from the hotel mini-bar?
Pringles! No matter the city, they are always stocked in every mini bar.
Favorite souvenir from your travels?
I love all my finds! With each trip, I seek artisanal pieces that are reminiscent of the local craft. On a recent trip to Sayulita, Mexico, I fell in love with a local shop called Evoke The Spirit. The owner, Brittany, works with local artisans who create incredible painted yarn skulls. They are magical—mine has 2 eagles on it. The artisan told me when I got home to hang the skull and let her protect me. I just moved into a new apartment and the skull is definitely watching over the place. It’s very powerful and special. I feel that.
Roopal Patel photographed in Maderas Village, Nicaragua