Back in the day when I worked for the devil as a fashion assistant in New York I would use my boss’ camera to go to showrooms and press appointments. It was a nifty little point and shoot, perfectly adequate to take pictures of the newest belts, the latest purses, and the most out there jewelry. Unfortunately it didn’t have a case, but lived in a sock. While it was a nice black, man’s sock it was still a sock that I had to pull out in front of the scrutinizing looks of PR and fashion people. My outfit could have been a perfect little dress fresh off the runway, quirky accessories to go with, and Prada heels, it wouldn’t matter and their eyes would only show embarrassment for me and my sad little camera sock.

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You would assume that it was a lesson for me on how to travel anywhere in style, only it wasn’t. I sympathize with the singer Czerkinsky when he describes the wonders of his little plastic bag that he uses in lieu of a suitcase in the song Les sacs en plastic. While it might not be chic, it’s practical, a sentiment I like. And while these days the Pradas (same pair, I’m no Carrie Bradshaw) might step into a marble lobby of a fancy hotel once in a while, my travel accessories do not dress the part.

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Glorious are the trips when I remember to pack my toiletry bag as I usually tend to throw shampoo & co into a plastic shopping bag and call it a day. My zip-block bag for security check has been in use for over a year and I simple call it recycling. My MacBook Air is covered in chocolate fingerprints that are still Christmas leftovers and only the cables and chargers are neatly rolled up and – no, just kidding! If I remember to take them at all, it can already be called a successful trip, but they travel tightly tangled snuggled together in a shoe bag. Mind you, the shoe bag is from Azzedine Alaïa and thus fancy by name at least, not that I ever owned the shoes that once belonged in the bag myself.

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When I went to Thailand last year I got myself my first proper backpack and while it wasn’t exactly fancy, it was a vast improvement from my last suitcase that had a wheel and the pulling handle missing. I was excited to be at least a backpacker in decent condition now. That was till a rat chewed a giant hole into the side of the backpack in Koh Tao.

Nevertheless I won’t give up that one day I will manage to grow up and learn how to travel in style like people used to do when there was a bed in economy class and flight attendants served meals on porcelain. Here are my top 10 items for when that happens…

1. A Trunk

Of course I will own the pièce de résistance of stylish travel, the epitome, the holy grail of luggage: the original Louis Vuitton trunk. So beautiful that even Rose DeWitt Bukater would be impressed and unfortunately utterly unattainable for most. In case you do win the lottery check out LV Trunks to get your very own vintage monogrammed steamer trunk. Do make sure you hire yourself someone to carry that thing for you or even better find yourself a rich husband who will pay and log it around for you.

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And while you are dreaming of that day get yourself the Louis Vuitton book ‘The Trunk’ for significantly less. It is a chic collection of short stories inspired by the archives of Gaston-Louis Vuitton about trunks, luggage, and travel by some prominent contemporary French writers.

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2. A Cocktail Kit

While on the note of old world travel charm why not bring back cocktail hour in economy class? If you need to have a drink on the plane, make it a good one and get yourself this Carry On Cocktail Kit. Kindly ask for a Bourbon, mix & stir, and you got yourself a classic Old Fashioned in no time. In case you meet a handsome stranger, offer him one too as the kit will mix two cocktails. Flying just got a whole lot more Catch Me If You Can.

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3. An Eye Mask

Trying to sleep on the plane can be tiring and while I don’t think I’m legally allowed to endorse valium sleeping pills, I will instead recommend an eye mask from Otis Batterbee. As I usually find eye masks slightly itchy, one must just remember Holly Golightly’s, these ones are understated and cool. They are also filled with lavender to help soothe tired eyes and for more relaxation.

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4. A Blanket

I recently taught my 18 months old godchild to say an all important word: cashmere. So it won’t come as a surprise that I am not a big fan of airline blankets, but would rather snuggle in a cashmere travel blanket and use the pillow cover to make the plane pillow a little more luxe.

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5. A Beauty Kit

What goes better with the feeling of cashmere than feeling refreshed and rehydrated on the plane? That’s when your beauty travel kit comes into play and preferably one that goes a bit beyond deodorant. I only recently discovered Aesop products and became quickly addicted to their fresh and clean scents, and the way they make my skin feel. Now they come in the perfect little jet set kit.


6. A Solid Perfume

As your zip-block bag is now full with Aesop products go for a solid fragrance. Tammy Frazer is a South African perfumer who makes the most incredible natural fragrances and bespoke perfumes. All of her scents are also available as Parfume Solide, where the fragrance is captured in beeswax, stored in a beautiful African Blackwood compact.

100 % of original

I thought I finally had made it as a luxurious nomad when I took her Nutmeg & Jasmine fragrance to Morocco a while back. Unfortunately I didn’t take the August temperatures into consideration and my whole perfume melted all over my toiletry bag. While that smelled good, I obviously don’t recommend it, so keep it with you in cooler climates!

7. A Travel Wallet

There is another travel accessory out there almost as icon and beautiful as the LV trunk – a Smython of Bond Street travel wallet. It not only keeps passport, documents, and currencies sorted it also comes in the most amazing array of colored leather. While I think one would buy one and have it forever, it is admittedly on the pricey side. Find a nice, cheaper version here while saving up for the real deal.

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8. A Smartpen

It seems like the writing world is divided: some like to go old school with pen and paper, others prefer the future with iPad & Co. With the Livescreen Smartpen you can combine the both: Take notes with a seemingly regular looking pen on a regular looking moleskin journal which will transcribe your thoughts with the Livescrive app to your Mac devices (not available for Android yet). I kind of love it when the best of two worlds come together in one handy device.

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9. A Laptop and a Phone Case

As someone who had her MacBook cracked while sitting quietly on the plane, I would add a layer of marble and carry the extra weight if it helped. Luckily these chic marble textured MacBook and iPhone cases do it without adding to the weight allowance.

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10. Noise canceling Headphones

In case there is are no handsome strangers sitting next to you, but just a horde of loud soccer fans and/or screaming babies I recommend to invest in some noise canceling headphones. People who know better (than me) recommend Bose as the ultimate muffler of all sounds annoying. And to fully appreciate the awesome sound they also give, check out our ultimate Travelettes on the Road playlist we have put together for you with our favorite travel songs.

While all of these things make great gifts for yourself or any traveler you want to spoil, I also think that at the end of the day traveling in style is all about your attitude. So put on a great pair of heels, slap on some gloss and a smile, and go conquer the world. And while you are at it, know that it will make for a great story if a rat chews a hole in your brand new backpack; after all that’s what The Trunk book is all about – great stories of traveling with luggage not so much about the luggage itself.

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This post was written by Annika Ziehen who was a Travelette until 2019. Originally from Germany, Annika has lived in New York and Cape Town and now travels the world full time. She considers herself a very hungry mermaid and writes about her adventures, scuba diving and food on her blog The Midnight Blue Elephant. You can also find her on Instagram here!