The Dame Tips for Travelling Fabulously
The Dame Tips are a monthly guest series by wntta’s resident Don Draper: an elegant hedonist who suffers no fools, The Dame herself, writer Ali Schofield.
Greetings, darlings. The cooler climes have finally come, and I hope you are all enjoying them as much as I am. Bitches can call me basic, but I have a closet full of well curated coats that have been whimpering these long summer months and are now free to be appreciated en masse. But just as the weather is lowering to my favourite temperature, I’m taking off on a grand adventure to one of my favourite destinations: my dear second home in Malawi.
A personal goal I’ve recently set for myself is to get better at taking vacation time. Last year I took a pitiful two days off the whole year, and I’m realizing now that that is no way to live. It’s clearly time, as I’ve noticed that things have been getting on my nerves a little more recently, really the closer my departure date creeps. For instance, there was a man on the subway this morning who took Man Spreading™ to the max by taking a wide stance in the middle of the subway car and grabbing onto the overhead bar like some living asshole depiction of a Vitruvian man. Then there was the targeted ad from Sephora in my Instagram feed that suggested I might be interested in a “Boob Mask”, because now we need to worry about how firm and “bright” our tits are. I turned to My Beloved and asked him, “Is this something I need to worry about?” (naturally already knowing the answer), and he reassured me that my breasts are the best in the world, and let me tell you my darlings, so are yours. Trivial though these things might seem to some, absconding to a destination 13,000 kilometers away seems like an excellent idea.
Speaking of My Beloved, he has been positively dreading, loudly lamenting my departure. I can’t say I blame him; I am a light in his and everyone’s life I touch, but one must get out and see the world. “Be in the world and of the world,” to quote Audrey in Sabrina. Who am I kidding though, I’ll miss him until my heart and other parts of my body start to ache. Two weeks without his wit, stimulating conversation, and deep blue eyes? Two whole weeks without scrabble or sex? How will I survive?!
I’ll tell you how I’ll get by, and how you can too with this month’s Dame’s Tips for travelling fabulously.
Truth be told, I’m not a great packer. I try to be – I make detailed lists and start packing a week in advance – but I’m just another one of those people who grabs 14 random blouses and headbands I’ve had for years but never worn before and shoves them into her bag right as the car service is pulling up out front. It all goes wrong when I decide to take one last look in my closet: next thing I know, my purse is suddenly overcome with jaunty scarves. Anyway, what I aim for is a collection of interchangeable outfits and sensible (but not embarrassing) shoes. Pick a colour palette that will allow you to mix and match items easily and remember to think about outfits in terms of layers – you never know how the weather may turn, and you should look chic no matter what. I also advise you always pack something nice to wear, even if you feel you’ll be roughing it most of the time. You may not come upon an occasion that calls for pearls, but you will likely decide on a nice dinner, and those whose native country you are visiting deserve the dignity of you being well-dressed.
Speaking of car service, if you’re planning to take a taxi or Lyft to the airport, consider spending an extra ten bucks or so to hire an airport limo. Seriously, with base fees to the airport for taxis and ride shares, the price for an elegant looking sedan is not what you’d think. This is my go-to: you schedule everything in advance so it’s far more reliable, and nothing starts a vacation off right like a man in a suit offering you that morning’s newspaper as you sit on a climate-controlled leather seat.
Mooch a sample. If your mother hasn’t given you all of her travel size face washes gifted during Clinique Beauty Days at The Bay, (thank you, Mamah) it’s time to get yourself to Sephora and sample some products. A few trips back I needed a moisturizer with SPF when this brilliant idea hit me: just get a sample. When you go into Sephora you can request up to two samples per visit (at least that’s their official policy). Need a wee bit of that Bumble and Bumble curl cure balm? Want to try that clay mask to get yourself sun-ready? The sample sizes are perfect for a week-ish get away. If you think this sounds cheap or uncharacteristically frugal, don’t be alarmed. Saving a couple bucks now will just mean an extra mojito when you get to your destination. (Can you believe “mojito” autocorrected to “monitor”?! The nerve of you, Siri!)
But what are The Dame’s travel essentials? Darling, here are a few of my favourite things.
The greatest single travel accessory I’ve ever purchased is a weighted eye mask. It’s kind of like this one and this one had a soft, beautiful, gel-filled baby. I bought it in a massage store at the Las Vegas airport after a long weekend… doing… things in Las Vegas. It is the best thing I’ve found to get me to sleep on long flights (red wine doesn’t hurt either) and prevent jetlag when I land. (I also have one of these for home which I enjoy because it blocks the light without laying directly on my lashes.)
Never go on an exciting journey without a small notebook to record your observations. Even if you aren’t a writer like yours truly, you’ll be glad at the end of your trip if you take a couple moments each day to record what you did. These little pocket Moleskines are just the ticket, and are actually what I used when I went to live in Malawi many years ago.
Also consider ear plugs, headphones, and a page turning book or three. I’ll admit to being a sucker for magazine stands at the airport. I’m a captive consumer! God forbid I’m in a terminal with a proper Duty Free, then it’s copies of Porter, Harper’s BAZAAR and Vanity Fair, as well as an impulse (but always beloved) pair of Dior sunglasses.
Well my dears, I would love to keep chatting but I must tend to the filling of my suitcase. A couple glasses of prosecco and those jaunty scarves might be a first-round draft pick. (My Beloved is teaching me sports, and to my surprise I’m actually having fun.)
Before I go, I wanted to let you know that since the last Ask The Dame was such a hit (who is surprised?) I’m going to do another focused solely on your questions around the holiday season. How do you handle your in-laws? How do you tactfully say no to a party invitation? What makes for a sexy yuletide season? Send your Q’s to email@example.com or DM me at @thisisthedame on Instagram (@alscho will also oblige) and I’ll do my best to make sure your season is merry and bright. (Wink.)
Until my return flight, my sweet dears.