Phoebe Lovatt doesn’t mean to be boastful, but she’s kind of an expert packer. And she’s had a lot of practice—she’s lived in New York, Los Angeles, and London, and her business takes her all over the world.
That business would be the Working Women’s Club, a group for women everywhere who live or aspire to live that freelance lifestyle—something that Lovatt also balances as a writer.
When she’s not crossing the globe for interviews and events, she’s sneaking in travels to Mexico City or Tapei, part of the perks of being her own boss. Recently from a room at New York’s Ludlow Hotel, she shared her favorite travel-sized products, how she stays on top of work while being constantly on the move, and her foolproof jet lag cure.
“I really believe in traveling light, when you go on trips and in life.”
I’ve been traveling, always. My parents are very nomadic people so I grew up traveling quite a lot and as soon as I could make my own money, I was spending all of it on flights. I feel like I’m quite minimalist by nature. I’ve never aspired to own a huge amount of belongings and that really extends to my packing philosophy. I really believe in traveling light, when you go on trips and in life. Even if I made a million times more money than I have, I wouldn’t spend it on stuff. Having loads of stuff gives me anxiety, and no more so than when I’m traveling. When I’m traveling, I’m using public transport, I’m flying coach. Unless you’re traveling super luxe, having loads of luggage with you is a nightmare, because you have to carry it. So, yeah. Pack light.
“I’m the queen of black ankle boots, they’re just classic.”
I work on the go. I work wherever I am. So, I have a MacBook Air which changed my life when I got it. An iPad for reading—as much as I like physical books, they’re just too heavy. I always have at least one if not two pairs of Nike sneakers with me—usually one will be a workout pair, one will be a walking pair. I’m the queen of black ankle boots, they’re just classic. A pair of Levi 501s, a cap for when I get off the plane so I can cover my face. Always have a hoodie. I like to have one smart coat—you want something where you can look like a little bit put together because usually my traveling coat will be like a bomber or a motorcycle jacket or something like that. And, always have a face mask.
“As much as I love being on the go, your body doesn’t respond that well.”
When I get on the plane I just take all my makeup off and I moisturize. I don’t really do a mask on the plane, but I’ll always do a mask when I get off the plane. I’ll bring a month’s supply of supplements if I’m traveling for a month because as much as I love being on the go, your body doesn’t respond that well. So, I always try and have my various vitamins. My friend Sabrina who runs Dimes knows all about herbalism and stuff like that, she recommended that I take holy basil because it’s good for stress relief and its natural anti-anxiety and I think it’s good for hormone balance as well. And then I usually take a multivitamin. I usually take charcoal. I’m a big fan of charcoal for digestion. You can also pop two before you go to sleep after you’ve been drinking. It saves your hangover.
“I hate getting somewhere and feeling like I can’t look after my skin.”
I try to buy the travel containers and decant because it gets a bit wasteful buying those little products. I do have a box at home of travel-sized stuff that I’ve gotten from hotels or wherever, sachets, samples, and I just dump them all in there. I’ll usually take a mix of those and then fill up my travel containers with my shampoo, my conditioner. I hate getting somewhere and feeling like I can’t look after my skin or I can’t do my hair. I’ll bring Bioderma with me to take my makeup off. When I go to Paris I like to stock up on that. At the moment, I’m using some Sisley face mask, which is really good. They’re really expensive, but they’re great. I really like Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery concentrate. That’s a great product. For sunscreen, I’m using Shiseido at the moment. I always have a highlighter with me and at the moment I’m using the Glossier Haloscope because that brings life back to your face. I usually get like mini bottles of the DHC cleansing oil or I really like Elemis cleansing balm. Those are the things that help me normalize when I’m traveling.
“I actually try to treat that whole check-in process like a meditation.”
The first thing I do when I get in the security line is put my headphones in and listen to music so I just drown out everything. I actually try to treat that whole check-in process like a meditation because it’s so horrible, especially at JFK. I’m like, okay, this could take an hour and a half. I’m not going to get agitated by it. I’m just going to zen out.
“I don’t watch three films and eat every snack.”
If it’s a long-haul plane ride, one thing I’ve started doing recently is ordering the Asian vegetarian meal. I’m not down with eating plane meat. When I get to my seat, I make sure I’ve got my water. I put earplugs in. Even if I’m not listening to music, I put earplugs in the whole flight. I hate that plane background noise. I just want to have an eye mask on my head, ready to go if I want to have a nap. Looking full crazy. And if I’m going to try and sleep on the plane, I’ll take a melatonin pretty soon after I get on the plane. I’m not, like, trying to be there for the plane ride. I don’t watch three films and eat every snack. It’s either a time to work, a time to try and sleep, or read. Maybe because so much of my traveling is not going on holiday. Nine times out of 10 I’m traveling alone. So it’s quite solitary, and I just want to get through it.
- 1Evernote note-taking app, free
- 2Bioderma Sensibio H2O, $10
- 3Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate, $46
- 4Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream, $36
- 5Glossier Haloscope, $22
- 6Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm, $60
- 7Holy basil supplements, $10
- 8MacBook Air, $999
- 9Nike sneakers - $100
- 10Levi 501s, price varies
“Resetting your body is about working around your hunger cues as much as it is around your sleep cues.”
Okay. I have a really game changing jetlag tip, but it’s quite hard and complicated to figure out. So, it’s about food and eating because basically your hunger patterns will override your circadian rhythms, or whatever it is. But basically, you stop eating 12 hours before breakfast in your destination. And then you have to sleep on the plane. For example, if I was going to London tonight and I wanted to eat breakfast at like 8 a.m. London time, I’d stop eating 12 hours before that, so that’d be 8 p.m. London time, but then that’s 3 p.m. New York time. So I wouldn’t eat anything after 3 p.m., then I’d get on the night flight, try and sleep, and the idea is that around 8 a.m. London time my body would wake me up because it’d be hungry. Resetting your body is about working around your hunger cues as much as it is around your sleep cues. And then another thing that does help, which is annoying but it does help, is working out when you get there, doing some exercise. It just makes you feel not disgusting.
“We’re so obsessed with productivity and efficiency, that we forget that experience is the genesis of all ideas and inspiration.”
Pretty much wherever I go, I’ll always block out the first couple of hours of the day for concentrated computer work. I think realistically when you’re traveling you can’t be like, I’m going to do nine hours of laptop work today. You’re just not. Or if you are, you’re not going to see where you are, or experience what you’re there to see. So I’ll usually do that first thing in the morning wherever I am, like make my coffee and just block out those two, three hours and you can get a lot done in three hours, especially if you’ve got the motivation of wanting to go out and do something else in the afternoon. I suppose because I’m self-employed, I’m very used to self-organizing my time wherever I am. It doesn’t really make any difference whether I’m there or here. Plus, my business largely rides on being global. I’m trying to make it international by doing events in different cities, forging connections in different cities, and exploring working cultures as they exist in different cities. For me the travel is part of the work and so I don’t stress too much about whether it’s super productive. It’s valuable. And I think travel is valuable whether that’s what you’re doing it for or not. We’re so obsessed with productivity and efficiency, that we forget that experience is the genesis of all ideas and inspiration, so just go out and enjoy yourself.
Phoebe Lovatt travels with the Bigger Carry On in Green.