With the launch of her latest book Party Girls Die In Pearls (a thrilling summer beach read that is no doubt at this very moment in the carry-on luggage of every vacationing IT girl from Malibu to Mallorca!), former Vogue scribe, Plum Sykes, is once again the talk of the town. Educated at Oxford and a bonafide jetsetter herself, the English beauty dishes on her travel must-haves (candles for her room and a hot water bottle), the country she’s mad about, and the one thing she always buys herself when visiting New York (hint: Manolos!)
City you call home?
London. I was born here and have had spells away (in New York and the countryside) but in the end it’s always lovely to come back.
How often do you travel?
I properly travel every six weeks—I travel and a lot for work.
How many countries have you visited?
In the last year I’ve been to Kenya, Morocco, Austria, New York, LA, Dallas, Chicago, and Houston. A few of the countries I have been to in my life include Thailand, India, South Africa, Botswana, France, and Italy.
Favorite destinations to travel to?
Milan, Florence, Rome—I am absolutely mad about Italy, Italians, and Italian food.
Where’s your “happy place” to visit?
I always love working in Paris for American Vogue. It’s a pleasure to visit places like the Chanel Couture salon or the Givenchy workrooms and see the designers and the craftsmen at work.
What was your last vacation and where will your next one be?
My last vacation was in Marrakech, Morocco, which I absolutely adored. This summer I will be in Bridgehampton, New York, with my sister, Lucy.
What brand of luggage do you use?
I love the brand Globe-Trotter. I have a very old, navy-blue Globe-Trotter suitcase which is amazing because it’s strong and super lightweight. I first got interested in the suitcases when I was in my 20s and we used them at British Vogue to pack clothes for shoots.
What brand of carry-on do you use?
I will usually carry a Burberry rucksack in black nylon.
Do you bring a camera?
I use my iPhone5.
I’m afraid I think most airlines are absolutely dreadful!
Barcelona. It has the most wonderful coffee bars and pastry shops.
I love the Beverly Hills Hotel in LA. The pool is just so iconic.
What are your in-flight travel essentials?
Aisle or window?
Window—as you are less likely to get disturbed by the staff.
Preferred in-flight beverage?
Airplane food or bring your own?
I don’t like airline food so I always take my own. For example, I will make a delicious and healthy ham sandwich.
What music is on your travel playlist?
I don’t have any music on my iPhone as I have never been able to figure out how to download it!
Gadget you can’t leave home without?
My Apple MacBook Air.
Do you use any travel apps?
No. I am just not very tech savvy.
Do you have any travel rituals or superstitions?
I always get to the airport far too early!
How do you entertain yourself at 35,000 feet?
I always take a good book. I have just read a wonderful book called Do No Harm by Henry Marsh who is an amazing surgeon. I read it so fast I didn’t even notice I was on a plane.
What’s your go-to uniform for the plane?
What’s the one item you never leave town without?
A photo of my children and my hot water bottle.
How do you deal with jet lag?
Sleep. I also think you need to stay in the time zone of the country you arrive in.
What’s your exercise routine when you’re on the road?
I’ll try and book a Pilates session wherever I am. I love Uptown Pilates in New York.
How do you manage your health routine when you’re away from home?
I love to get massages when travelling—I think it really helps the body. I also do not drink alcohol at all when I’m travelling for business.
What’s the first thing you do when you get into your hotel room?
Are you an over-packer or under-packer?
I’m an over-packer, sadly.
Do you have a packing strategy?
I try and pack as little as possible but its always too much
One surprising thing you always pack?
My hot water bottle (I use it to keep warm wherever I am).
What are your favorite items to travel with?
I always take one pair of black jeans, blue jeans and one pair of white jeans. I’ll then take jackets and shirts that can mix and match with those things, and I try to adhere to a neutral colour palette when travelling. One pair of heels and one pair of flats, one evening dress, as well as sneakers and work out gear by Stella McCartney. That’s my minimum.
What beauty-essentials do you travel with?
I love to take my Louise Galvin shampoo and conditioner, which are very natural, and I always take my Chanel No.5 perfume. I bring an electric toothbrush and Sensodyne toothpaste, a detangler hairbrush (which is small and very effective) and I pack curling tongs if possible. I also love to bring a bottle of Essie nail polish in “Clambake” which is an orangey-red and very chic. My make-up is mainly Bobbi Brown—I love the Bobbi Brown tinted moisturizer for everyday and the lipsticks. I bring Chanel mascara, and sometimes I’ll pack Charlotte Tilbury eyeshadow palettes.
Favorite item to order from room service?
A pot of tea.
Favorite item from the hotel mini-bar?
Best travel advice?
Rest as much as possible.
Have you ever had a travel disaster or mishap?
Many. Mainly missing planes in India.
If your luggage was lost, what are the 5 items you’d buy at the drugstore?
Toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, conditioner…and chewing gum.
Favorite find/souvenir from your travels?
I always buy a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes when I’m in New York. This is because huge feet, size 42, and I can’t get then anywhere else.
Favorite childhood memory of traveling?
I’m remember going on holiday with my grandmother to Bantham, which is a little tiny village in Devon. We used to go out rowing on the river, made sandcastles on the beach and ate lots of scones with jam and cream.
Travel destinations still on your bucket-list?
I’d love to go to Egypt one day and I hope it becomes much safer there soon.
Plum Sykes photographed while on holiday in Marrakech, Morocco.