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Today I’m thrilled to be sharing the first in a series of posts featuring some of my favourite creative women and their traveling traits. Since I started blogging I have really noticed how the way I travel has changed with my life circumstances and who I am traveling with. So I was curious to understand how others travel style has evolved over the years and what their priorities are.
Handbag designer: Rachel Kwei
Fellow Aussie in London, Rachel left the corporate life behind her to start a online store specialising in independent handbag designers – Behold the Brand (formerly Pour La Pomme). She is now developing her own line of bags to be launched in 2017. A busy mum of two, she always makes time to travel.
Rachel is a seasoned traveller who takes trips throughout the year with her family, friends and husband. She likes to splurge on accommodation and restaurants when she travels and seeks out special or unusual places. I can vouch for her London recommendations. Having lived in the city for over 8 years she has a wonderful list of go to bars and restaurants around the city and has shared some of these in this post.
Rachel’s travel traits
Where did you go on your first trip abroad? What impression did that make on you?
We travelled quite a bit as a family when I was growing up, including a year in New Zealand and six months in London before I was 10. The trip to London, with side trips around Europe and to LA on the way back to Melbourne, particularly influenced my love of this part of the world. At that time, a lot fewer people spoke English and, I think, people were less international with different foods and cultures being less accessible outside of their country of origin.
My first independent trip abroad was when I was 21 visiting a friend in the US and travelling to New York, Key West and San Francisco. Three places I really loved visiting. But travelling with my parents when I was young probably made me realise how do-able it is with a young family. When my son was 5 months old we went on holiday to Egypt and people thought we were mad.
How has the way you travel changed over the years? Do you seek out different experiences than those you did previously?
I admit I never had the backpacking spirit and now with two children, and (just!) over 20 years of travel behind me, I find myself prioritising convenience. I like to stay in nice places so I’ve always been a planner to avoid disasters. Now, I’m also asking myself “What is the easiest/quickest way to do this?” and being ok about paying more for the ease of it.
Before kids I was quite happy getting early flights and a couple of trains or winging transport and transfers. These days I’m much happier to lie on a beach or by a pool than I used to be in my 20s or 30s. I never, ever, thought I would say this but when it comes to holidays with kids, I’m more than happy to go to a resort where I don’t have to cook or clean! It’s just not a holiday otherwise. I prefer to do this than doing a city break because I just don’t think the kids get that much out of them at a young age and my husband and I end up working harder to keep them entertained.
When I’m travelling with friends or my husband, I usually seek out boutique hotels and great local independent shops. I like to try special restaurants and bars to really experience the unique side of a place and hang out like a local. I love getting out and seeing the sights but prefer to do this child-free.
How do you research your travel plans?
My research is entirely done online. I might ask people I know for recommendations if they’ve been there on holiday or even better if they’ve lived there. I generally use different blogs and websites for every location but I’ll never, ever book accommodation unless it has been recommended or has a lot of glowing reviews.
Favourite places and spaces
I love Copenhagen for its relaxed vibe, good food and design focus. Ibiza and Formentera have the best beaches I’ve been to in Europe. There’s something there for everyone be it families looking for some chilled out beach time or people looking for great restaurant and bars or to party.
Insider tips for visitors to London
Town Hall hotel, Bethnal Green. Close to the heart of East London where there are loads of independent shops, bars and eateries and importantly the coffee is good!
Social Tapas and Wine just behind Selfridges. What visit to London would be complete without a visit to this fabulous department store? And ideally located behind it is another of Jason Atherton’s restaurants with amazing tapas and a great wine list to accompany.
Antidote wine bar has a fabulous wine list of only biodynamic and organic wines which suits my intolerance to sulphites in wine. It serves a good antipasto plate and amazing bread
A London walking tour. Even seasoned visitors to London will learn something new about this amazing city. Tours are available all over the city, are inexpensive and full of interesting stories such as how the tiered wedding cake came to existence or how the expression ‘at sixes and sevens’ came about.
The next big trip
Our next big trip will be home to Australia for Christmas. We’re spending time in Perth and Melbourne, visiting both my husband’s family and my own. I love being there during the festive period but hate the long haul flight, especially now with kids!
Rachel’s must have travel items
As I’m all about bags and carrying things, my must have bags for travel are:
A small/medium crossbody
Great for sightseeing and also to carry valuable or important items close to you, away from potential pick pockets you can sometimes meet when travelling. This can also double as an evening bag if you are limited with your luggage space. Something like this black crossbody bag or this oxblood mini bag (pictured below)
A tote bag or back pack
When traveling with kids, I tend to choose a backpack as it easier to dump on the ground, if you need to, without worrying about what is going to fall out. Otherwise, a nice big tote bag is perfect to carry all your essentials while in transit – magazines, books, devices, water, moisturiser, makeup etc and doubles up as a beach bag or a good sized shopper is you should be so lucky to be perusing local craft markets.
If you’ve got the space, it’s nice to be able to bring a clutch to mix up your evening look. Make it multitask by putting your iPad in it or use it to store your jewellery while on the go.
I don’t know about you but I have accumulated a stupid amount of loyalty cards that I carry around day to day. I used to have an large wallet where I could keep currency separate but it made my already bulky wallet even heavier. That is not appreciated when you spend the day wandering around with a bag on your shoulder. By taking a smaller second wallet you can take just your essential cards and any foreign currency can be kept separate. This lovely wallet would fit the bill.
My guilty pleasure are these packing bags from Flight 001. They keep everything separate and orderly which is brilliant if you share a case with kids or your partner. And, the Space Paks are double sided so you can store your dirty clothes in a separate compartment on the other side.
Pour La Pomme is where you will find a carefully curated range of handbags from independent designers and makers. There is a selection of timeless and carefully crafted pieces more unique than the high street and without the luxury price tag. We are deliberately not about the latest ‘it bag’ and we don’t slavishly follow trends. We prefer a quieter style of bag, one that speaks volumes in terms of design, quality and value. Something you will have for a long time and use day to day from season to season.
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Thanks Rachel for being part of the Travel Traits series on Untold Morsels
The creator, writer and photographer behind Untold Morsels, Katy has been travelling and tasting the world since she was a teenager.
Now the proud mum of twins, she hopes they grow up to share her passions of great food, wine and travel. Favourite destination: Italy