Travel Kit || The Louis Vuitton “100 Legendary Trunks” App

10/05/2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve long admired Louis Vuitton’s “100 Legendary Trunks” project (you can see my previous posts on the splendid book and the exhibit at Musée Carnavalet in Paris).  The book was curated by authors Pierre Léonforte and Éric Pujalet-Plaà, and is a collection of over 600 images — some from the LV archives, some taken especially for this project — of the 100 most spectacular trunks and cases created on commission by Louis Vuitton, with owners including Douglas Fairbanks, Karl Lagerfeld, Ernest Hemingway, and Damien Hirst.

If the pricetag of the tome (normally $125, but currently $86 on Amazon) has put you off from purchasing it, I have good news, if you own an iPad.  Packaged in what appears to be an exceptionally manipulable — and so very pretty! — format, you can now experience the 100 Legendary Trunks as an app!  And the best part, it’s only $19.  Head here to purchase it from iTunes.

So while the app may not offer the comforting and luxurious heft of a coffee table book, and an iPad doesn’t exactly look quite as outwardly interesting while sitting on your bookcase, granted, it is worth noting that the app means this exceptional media on the subject of travel, is now perfectly positioned to tag along on your globe trotting.  In fact, I think it’d be the perfect companion…

~*~For further Travel Kit posts, head here.~*~

Quite Continental Charm School: Day 25 — Travel Light

25/02/2012 § 6 Comments

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life
Image via the George Eastman House.

Day 25: Travel Light
On the topic of travel, we’ve already discussed what you should wear while you travel and keeping a journal, but I still wanted to touch on what I consider my best trick for a charming voyage, no matter if it is for a weekend or a month: always travel light.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I checked a bag on a plane, but it isn’t — thankfully — because I have a harrowing story of losing my cases on a trip.  I’ve been blessed to have never lost anything while travelling — knock on wood.  Instead, it was born from two distinct recognitions: First, that I have a definite lack of patience when it comes to travel: no patience to wait for the baggage carousel to fire up, no patience for dragging around heavy rollies in crowded train stations, no patience for checking in bags.  But second, and perhaps more importantly, I noticed a growing desire for simplicity while I was travelling.  I realized I didn’t need to drag along endless individual options in an overstuffed bag, but rather a multipurpose uniform that contained endless combinations.

I’ve since made two week trips to Cairo, London, Paris and Buenos Aires, all with only a carry-on.  While the ease in getting around while on the trip is refreshing, I must admit the hands down best part of travelling light is stepping through customs and heading straight for the taxi queue — don’t even give that baggage carousel a second glance!

A few tips to help you travel light:

  • When packing, first, pick a single color scheme: that way, everything will match everything.  Then, set out everything you want to bring, and try to cut it in half.  Get comfortable with the idea that you will repeat items.  Plan to do laundry while you are travelling and streamline your choices even further.
  • Ladies, your secret weapon is a single dress that can be dressed up or down.  Nice dinner? Add heels and a clutch. Casual walkabout? Throw a chambray shirt on over it and belt it at the waist.
  • Only bring the toiletries you absolutely cannot live without.  In most places, you can buy the basics.  If possible, stockpile samples of your essential items — they pack excellently.

How do you pack?  Do you travel light?

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

Quite Continental Charm School: Day 15 — Keep a Travel Journal

15/02/2012 § 5 Comments

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

Charles A. Lindbergh’s flight journal. Photo by George Silk.

Editor’s Note: I’m very pleased to introduce our next guest speaker!  Jen Swetzoff is a writer, editor, mommy and the founder of the travel blog Parenture (parenting + adventure) where she focuses on family-friendly vacations, the best gear for families on the go and gives her readers an inside look at the places she travels to with her husband and her daughter, Baby E.

A secret: how I know Jen differs from all of our guest speakers thus far.  Ours is a friendship that predates either of our blogs, in fact — I met Jen very soon after my arrival in New York, and we worked together for some time.  I’m especially in awe (jealous) of the fact that she has travelled to twenty countries on six different continents in the last ten years.  And while I am not a mom myself, the locations that Jen suggests, especially those upstate, almost automatically get added to my to do list.  If you are not yet familiar with Jen or Parenture, it is my pleasure to introduce you.

Without any further ado, Jen’s tip for a charmed life.


Day 15: Keep a Travel Journal
Honestly, writing often feels like the last thing I want to do on vacation. But I do it anyway. Because no matter what other souvenirs I carry home, my travel journal ends up being the most treasured. Cameras are amazing, and I always pack one of those, too, but they’re predictable. Reliable. They always do the same thing and do it well. They capture clear and accurate moments of time–instants really, that exist and then fade away–and make them stand still forever. Which is great for people like me with crappy memories.

But words, written in our own sloppy handwriting, are fluid and imprecise and subjective. Which makes them either hilarious or profound in retrospect. Even when I’m not in the mood to put pen to paper (both of which I always have in my bag, locally and on the road), the right travel journal–a brand new book–is inspiring. Its openness gives me the same sense of hope that planning a trip does. On its pages, I can think, dream, remember, record, realize. Because anything’s possible on a blank page. Anything can happen on a great adventure. So even if you don’t have a trip planned yet, get yourself a travel journal.

Here are a few of my favorites to get you going:

Hands down, this Smythson is the classiest travel journal on the market. For some reason, it makes me think of Out of Africa. But I gotta say, I like the pretty pink version too.

I love a classic Moleskin, with all its literary history, but this company just gets better with age. Have you seen the new Moleskin travel journal?

The colorful and lighthearted journals from Archie Grand just make me smile.

Loving this adventurous notebook as well.  It’s also a Moleskin, but has been screen printed by the lovely print shop and design studio Fifi du Vie

Bon voyage!

by Jen Swetzoff, of Parenture.


The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

Quite Continental Charm School: Day 11 — Travel Elegantly

11/02/2012 § 8 Comments

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life
Image via The Nationaal Archief in The Hague.

Day 11: Travel Elegantly
It isn’t a revelation that clothing has become much more informal over the past half century or so.  While I definitely don’t advocate a return to outdated social mores, I do believe that missing from much of the fashion one observes on the street today is a certain sense of pride, a certain je ne sais quois, and that it is high time for a revival.

It used to be that the event of travel was occasion to look exceptional, and rightly so — a trip was a special treat, an exciting adventure. Travellers endeavored to put their best foot forward as they explored new territories.  You can find countless old pictures of women in gloves and men in hats, boarding trains and ships and airplanes.  Comparing those pictures to the houses of horrors that are now our airports and train stations, can be bit difficult to reconcile.

Therefore, today’s tip suggests that it is charming to travel elegantly:

  • First the restricted items: No tracksuits, no pajamas, no leggings as pants, no boxer shorts as shorts, no basketball shorts, no yoga wear, no slippers, no Uggs, no flip flops.  None of them.  Never.  Not to travel in (and some never ever).  If you can’t manage to put real clothes on your body, you really ought to stay home until you can.  Your aim should be for timeless, elegant clothes that will travel well.
  • Most months (excepting winter), you will need to travel with a lightweight coat, something that can be tucked away in the overhead easily, but cover most of your body when worn.  For these needs, a basic trench is perfect. (See also: 2011’s 28 Days: The Trench)
  • Layers are important, due to fluctuating temperatures.  I frequently wear a scarf that can double as a wrap or lap blanket, in case of a chill.
  • Slip on shoes are best, for security checkpoints and for removal while seated in miniature coach seats.  Remember to bring a pair of socks in your tote if you aren’t wearing any.
  • Dark trousers are key.  If you are only travelling for a few hours, denim is perfectly fine — provided they don’t look like you should be weeding the garden or fronting a punk band.  Best: well-fitting, straight legged, dark indigo.  For longer hauls, chinos are much more comfortable.

A suggested elegant travel kit:
Burberry double-breasted trench coat

Levi’s Made and Crafted Worker blazer

J.Crew Minnie pant in stretch twill

Brooks Brothers classic fit non-iron dress shirt

Citizens of Humanity Elson straight leg jean

Aubin & Wills Emmerson cotton cardigan

DKNY croc-effect belt

Pilcro Trinket Flats, bee

J.Crew silk-cashmere wrap

Ralph Lauren keyhole sunglasses

Moynat signature tote

Bon voyage!

Image via the State Archives of Florida.
The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

The Travel Kit: The Illustrated Virago Book of Women Travellers

12/01/2012 § 2 Comments

Virago: vi-ra-go, noun
\və-ˈrä-(ˌ)gō, -ˈrā-; ˈvir-ə-ˌgō\
a woman of great stature, strength, and courage

The word comes from the Latin word vir, meaning virile ‘man,’
to which the suffix -ago is added,
a suffix that effectively re-genders the word to be female.

I recently received a copy of The Illustrated Virago Book of Women Travellers, detailing the stories of several remarkable viragoes throughout history, in their own words.  Included in the compendium are excerpts from the writings of aviatrix Beryl Markham, Out of Africa author Isak Dinesen, Middle East explorer Gertrude Bell, and aristocrat Vita Sackville-West who was the lover of Virginia Woolf and served as the inspiration for Woolf’s novel Orlando.

Perhaps a coffee table book is not what you would consider an essential part of your travel kit, but one of the most important elements of choosing my next travel destination is the inspiration that draws me to a specific part of the world: be it through art, music, literature or fashion.  My initial perusal of this lovely book has definitely lead me to consider a few unconventional destinations — a bit more off the beaten path — for my next excursion.  If you like historical accounts of adventuresome ladies in foreign lands, definitely pick this book up.

The Illustrated Virago Book of Women Travellers
Edited by Mary Morris with Larry O’Connor.
Available in paperback on Amazon here, and a few can be had on eBay here.

~*~Further QC Travel Kit posts here.~*~

The Travel Kit: A Great Bag

03/01/2012 § 2 Comments

“Hello! I need a suggestion for a great travel bag. It needs to fit my 15″ Macbookpro, my Ipad, a book, a notebook, Canon camera, make-up/face essentials and wallet. Any suggestions will be appreciated! Thank you!”

Of course, always happy to help!  But before I launch into my suggestions, I want to first mention a few of my guiding principles/basic assumptions.  First, I like my luggage like I like my men — handsome, sturdy and dependable; rugged, yet gentlemanly.  In my picks you’ll see a predominance of canvas and leather and not a lot of fussy patterns and shiny thingamajigs — but I’m guessing that’s why you asked me.  Second, you won’t find any backpacks here* — I haven’t been able to bring myself to wear one since the seventh grade, so I’m definitely not traveling with one — but I guessed with all of this stuff you’re going to be carrying, you’d want to keep your hands free sometimes, so I looked for bags you could carry on your shoulder.  Third, I assumed that your camera is a DSLR and requires more space than a small point and shoot.  Fourth, I assumed you wanted something in a carry-on size, so most of these will have a little space for extra items, like a change of clothes or a pair of shoes.  Lastly, since you didn’t give me a price guideline I had a little fun and tried to give you options in a few different price ranges.

Hope this helps!  And let me know where you end up taking your new bag!

Osa Johnson and luggage, in Vanuatu.

Introductory ~ $300 or less
Perfect if you’re just starting your own travel kit, or were looking for something that won’t break the bank.  While these options are lower in price, I sought out brands that have proven their durability.
Filson Sportsman’s Bag
With lots of pockets and two snap-out dividers in the main compartment, the Filson Sportsman’s Bag has room to spare and lots of little nooks and crannies to exploit.  As it was originally designed for huntsmen in the field, I’m sure this durable bag would be able to handle whatever you threw at it.  Also check it out in otter green.

The Filson Sportsman’s Bag is made in the USA.

Bean’s Vacation Bag
An L.L. Bean Signature reissue of a bag that originally appeared in their 1933 catalog, this handsome leather bag is guaranteed to age beautifully.  With the unconstructed interior, you really have the freedom to pack whatever might fit.

The San Fernando Valley Mercantile Co. 20″ Tool Bag
While I was in Argentina, I posted about how much I loved my new 16″ tool bag from the San Fernando Valley Mercantile Co. and Warren has since informed me that it is completely sold out.  If you had your heart set on it, fear not, you can pick up this slightly larger version.

The San Fernando Valley Mercantile Co. tool bag is made in the USA.

Land’s End Canvas 1963 Trip Bag
I first heard about this great bag from my good friend Jen, who also writes the great mommy travel site Parenture.  When she touted the 1963 Trip Bag as a great to a alternative diaper bag for dudes, but I couldn’t help but think it would also be a perfect carry-on for me.  The pricetag is definitely easy on the wallet as well.

Archival Clothing Duffel
This clean and simple duffel by Archival Clothing really appeals to me.  The two pockets on either end are perfect for your boarding pass and passport or perhaps a slim novella, a map or two and your phone.

The Archival duffel is made in the USA.

Intermediate ~ $900 or less
Were you are ready to make a more substantial investment, these would be my first look.

Jack Spade Waxed 18oz Canvas Pocket Duffle
I’ve long been a fan of Jack Spade, and actually carried one of their flap messenger bags around when I went to Egypt a few years ago.  What struck me at the time were the smartly placed compartments and how easy everything was to get to when on the go.  While I was traveling much lighter at that time than you will be, this petite duffle looks like a great alternative.

Saddleback Classic Briefcase (Large)

Saddleback founder and world traveler Dave Munson prides himself on making some of the most — if not the most — durable leather bags available, backing them with a 100 year warranty, bragging that “they’ll fight over them when you’re dead,” and posting photos of crocodiles trying to eat them.  Made of luxuriously large pieces of high-quality leather, what I love best about them is they don’t sacrifice style for function.  (See Dave Munson talk about the construction of the bag here.)  With all the straps and D-rings, I can perfectly see Dr. Henry “…we named the dog Indiana!” Jones strapping on one for an adventuresome archeological dig.  I can see one on safari with Osa Johnson in the 1920s, and yet it also looks right toting around your Macbook and iPad.  Get the large size, and you’ll be good to go.

*Okay, I slightly lied about the “no backpacks” thing, because you can, in fact, convert this handsome leather briefcase into a backpack (Which I suppose is the best of both worlds if you like the backpack world, yes?)

Col. Littleton No. 1 Grip

The folks at Col. Littleton, Tennessean purveyors of fine leather goods, clothing, knives and other such good stuff have a knack for designing the kind of bags I want before I even know it.  Perfectly achieving the kind of genteel adventurer aesthetic I love, I can see Col. Littleton’s bags in the hands of Teddy Roosevelt or Amelia Earhart, packed with the warmest cashmere, a flask of the finest whiskey, a book of short stories by Rudyard Kipling and an ivory-handled knife.

This gorgeous bag, the No. 1 Grip, takes its name from what used to be the common term for a carry-on from 1870 to 1940.  “Grips” were not checked bags, were not given to porters, and were only to be handled by the owners.  This bag opens wide to accommodate all of your treasured items and tightens securely with several lovely straps and clasp — and please do note the plate above the clasp, just waiting for your monogram.  With handles for carrying it either on your shoulder or in your hand, this bag will see you around the world and back.

If you didn’t have quite so much stuff, I would be recommending the No. 3 Grip, as I’m a sucker for umbrella straps, you see…

Both the No. 1 and the No. 3 Col. Littleton Grips are made in the USA.

JW Hulme Co. Classic Duffle – Small

Are you noticing a trend?  Can you not tell that I am a girl with a special place in her heart for rich, burnished leather that will only get better with age, especially when it is paired with hardy straps and buckles and maybe a place for my initials?  This duffle from JW Hulme hits that sweet spot and offers a bit more space than the previous two options, owing to its slightly more boxy shape.  If you are a traveller like me, you’re always apt to return home with a few new small treasures and this bag would definitely have room to stow them away — perhaps even in the secret interior pocket, perhaps?

I see myself grabbing this bag and heading out on hardy, rugged adventures in the American west.  Possibly by stagecoach, but more likely on horseback or in a classic pickup or 4×4 — but this bag isn’t merely rough and tumble, it’s much too luxurious to be considered such. I especially love how the closure flap is a bit reminiscent of a saddle and that JW Hulme will emboss your initials into this gorgeous leather for free.  Quite classy indeed.  Throw this over your shoulder using the detachable strap and you’re ready for just about anything.

The JW Hulme Co. Classic Duffle is made in the USA.

Investment ~ $1000 and up
Time to dream of big budgets and the trips you could take.  These pieces are the kinds of investments that conscientious travellers have been making for many years.  If you are joining their ranks, I salute you.  One day I shall see you there.

Ghurka Express bag in khaki twill

The Ghurka Express bag makes me think of journeys in the style of Abercrombie and Kent or perhaps the Cunard Line or the Orient Express.  A bit more refined than the previous options, I agree, but it is exactly the kind of luggage I would love to pass down to my own plucky, adventuresome daughter on the day she graduates from school and sets off to conquer the world.  She’d do it too.

This handmade khaki twill bag, edged in chestnut leather, has compartments galore and the clever, yet handsome, closures ensure all of your valuable items and whatnot will travel safe and sound.  Also drawing my eye are the two external flap pockets, the umbrella straps, and the detachable shoulder strap.  Outfitted with one of their classic luggage tags and stamped at one end with their lovely crest, detailed with banners, crossed tusks and the name of the bag, the reasons the Ghurka Express Bag has remained popular since its its introduction as one of the earliest Ghurka designs is readily evident.

If you love this, but desire an all-leather bag, the Express is also available in a gorgeous chestnut leather.  And yes, when I pass down my bag to my daughter, I will of course have to replace it with that.

Swaine Adeney Brigg Oxford 19″

Hello, lover.

Quintessentially British and nothing but class, Swaine Adeney Brigg, Royal Warrant Holders to HM The Queen as whip and glove-makers and to HRH The Prince of Wales as umbrella-makers, manufactures the kind of bags my Anglophile dreams are made of.  Makers of luxury travel goods, gentlemen’s accessories and equestrian goods of the highest quality for over 250 years, Swaine Adeney Brigg also happen to have designed the hat worn by Dr. Indiana JonesSo you can see we are definitely in the right place.

This roomy bag zips completely open for easy access but cleverly placed side gussets hold its shape whilst you pack, offers a slightly boxy shape for extra room, and keeps everything safe and dry with a lovely flap — all in hand-finished traditional English bridle leather.  It is also worth mentioning that this gorgeous bag is made entirely by hand from start to finish by a single craftsman in their Cambridge workshop.  It is the kind of handmade, traditional British luxury I’d love to call my own.

While you’re at it, pick up their Whangee umbrella.  What’s good enough for The Prince of Wales is definitely good enough for you.

If there’s anything I might be able to help you with,

feel free to drop me a line:

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