For today’s jet-set working women, long-haul travels are part of the day job. BAZAAR’s experts show you how to fly in style. By Sasha Slater.
When Fabienne Cauli, a London-based Vice President of American Express, travels for work, the pilot always comes out of the cockpit before take-off to thank her for her loyalty to British Airways. This is no more than her due: She takes some 60 business trips each year, travelling everywhere from China to Russia, Sydney to Singapore.
No wonder she is on first-name terms with the cabin crews.
In a digital world, it seems surprising that travel should still be such a huge part of our working lives.
But, as Cauli says: “Travelling is building relationships.
You can’t see subtle nuances in body language on a call.
Effective communication is impossible via phone.” She adds: “Customers expect people to visit and get to know them better. If you’re doing business in countries that are unfamiliar, you have to be open to learning. And to do that, you have to go to them.” And when conversations are confidential, or with billions of dollars hanging on the outcome, clients don’t trust telephone lines or video systems not to be bugged by competitors.
“I like meeting the founders and CEOs in person. Often, an agreement is sealed with a handshake that is not replicable online,” agrees Carmen Busquets, the Venezuelan entrepreneur who founded CoutureLab and was the major founding investor behind Net-A-Porter. In addition, Busquets points out, she is partially deaf and dyslexic. “Even though the digital world allows us to be in touch from almost anywhere, people understand me better when we meet.”
Busquets travels so frequently that she can’t keep track of how many flights she takes annually. “I travel almost every week,” she says.
“I grew up in a family of frequent travelers.
We have five family homes in different countries, so this is the life I’ve known since I was a baby.” In the air, Busquets always takes cashmere wraps and a good book, along with her business plans, but she says that the real secret to travelling starts on the ground. “I’ve practised meditation from a very young age,” she says. “I do silent retreats, follow my qigong teacher around, take time for meditation breaks. This is not negotiable. It is key to keeping me balanced.”
High fashion is as fast-moving and farflung as high finance. It’s not just the biannual fashion weeks of London, Paris, Milan and New York that send a motley circus of editors, writers, photographers and models on month-long odysseys. These days, cruise collections for the big brands also happen all around the world twice a year. BAZAAR Editor-in-Chief, Kenneth Goh, varies his packing depending on the schedule; for main fashion weeks, he takes two Rimowa suitcases with an outfit for every day and a few evening options. “Prepare four or five evening looks: Light wool suits from Gucci and Dior Homme travel well because they don’t crease as much, and you can always add a cashmere poloneck inside if it’s cold. I travel in a Saint Laurent leather biker jacket—because the parade starts from the airport.” For cruise shows, he takes just one Rimowa suitcase. “A Dolce&Gabbana suit which is tailored to precision and doesn’t allow even an inch for that extra breakfast croissant!” BAZAAR UK’s Fashion Director, Avril Mair, says, “I pack with military precision. And I trust the hotels to have a nice shampoo and conditioner.” In many cases, the journey is part of the excitement, where the great fashion houses have an opportunity to show a more complete version of their vision by holding shows in exotic locales. Far away from other distractions, creative directors can share their inspiration; they can invite you, literally, into their world.
Whether it’s for fashion inspiration or to nail a deal, the purpose of a work trip is to take you out of your space and into someone else’s, to bring you face-to-face with another reality. All you have to do is navigate the travel as smoothly as possible, and try to enjoy the ride.