Teen Vogue’s Senior Fashion News Director Jane Keltner de Valle is almost always on the go. She flies to London and Paris for the collections shows at least twice a year, jets off to locations near (Oklahoma City) and far (Rome) to work on stories for the magazine regularly, and visits family all over the world, from Connecticut to Lima, Peru whenever she and her husband have the chance. What she takes with her? A practical wheelie (monogrammed, of course). “But I’ve always wanted an old steamer trunk,” she says. “I don’t know that I would travel with a Vuitton one today—I wouldn’t want to risk it getting ruined!—but I love the idea of repurposing one, as a coffee table or a bench at the foot of the bed. The brilliant thing about these trunks is that they are so functional. Great for storing things out of sight.”
Here, in reverence of the bygone era in which women traveled with glamorous trunks like these, Keltner de Valle shares her tips for taking—and packing for—the delightfully modern journey.
Q: What was the first Louis Vuitton bag you ever owned?
A: My uncle used to own a department store in Texas, and when I was 11 or 12 years old he gave me a mini Louis Vuitton duffel purse for Christmas. It was my first designer handbag. It's quite small and cute, and I still have it. I love how the leather has changed over the years. Louis Vuitton bags are like fine wine—they get better with age.
Q: What does your Year in Travel look like? Where do you go regularly? Where have you gone recently that’s been off your beaten path?
A: I travel a lot for my job—to Paris and London twice a year for the fashion shows, and to cities all over the world for stories for the magazine. This past year I went to Rome for the opening of a Max Mara store. I went to Oklahoma City for a shoot with NBA all-star Kevin Durant. I love that I get to see different countries and cultures as part of my job, but because I travel so often, I actually consider it a real luxury to stay home. My family has a weekend house in Connecticut that my husband and I try to escape to as often as we can. And we go to West Palm Beach every April to visit my aunt and uncle.
Q: Do have any exciting trips on the horizon?
A: In May I’m headed to Mallorca, Spain with my husband's family. I plan to do nothing but sit by the beach and read while we're there! It’ll also be a good opportunity for me to practice my Spanish.
Q: What do you always take with you when you travel?
A: A Mophie juice pack for my iPhone. It doubles the battery life and keeps me connected no matter where I am.
Q: What do you never take with you when you travel?
A: A hairdryer. It takes up too much space in my suitcase, and the hotels always have them. I try to get a blowout before going to the airport, which lasts for several days. And I've found inexpensive salons in Paris and some of the other cities I travel to frequently, so if I'm staying long and need to wash my hair, I can just pop in and get a quick blowout.
Q: What about your packing strategy—how do you organize? How do you decide how much to pack? Do you always just fill your luggage to the brim?
A: I try to pack according to my itinerary—an outfit per day, plus an evening look or two. The key to successful packing is to take things that are versatile. Shoes take up so much space, so I try to limit myself to a few pairs that work with multiple outfits. Same goes for bags. This past Paris fashion week, I packed one pair of pointy-toed pumps and one pair of high-heeled booties, plus flats for the airplane. I think that's as minimal as I've ever traveled, but it was really all I needed, and it freed up space in my suitcase for any shopping I did while I was over there!
Q: What have your elders taught you about traveling?
A: To monogram my luggage. It's something my grandmother did. In addition to looking chic, it makes identifying my wheelie on the conveyor belt at baggage claim that much easier.
My mother taught me to drink nothing but water on the plane—and lots of it. Your body gets dehydrated in the air, and alcohol only accelerates that. Water keeps your skin from drying out and also helps combat jetlag.
Q: What do you like to buy when you are abroad? What kinds of gifts make the best souvenirs?
A: When I travel somewhere exotic, like Morocco, I like to bring back special things for my home. Two favorite souvenirs of mine are a silver tray from Lima, Peru, where my husband's family is from, and a porcelain Whippet from an antique store on South Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach.
I also like to bring back a taste of the places I've been—Parmesan from Italy; Pisco from Peru; Ladurèe macarons from Paris for the girls in my office, dark chocolates from Fauchon for my husband, and Mariage Frères tea for me. And I always stock up on La Roche Posay face and body creams at the French pharmacies when I'm in Paris. Even though you can now find these products in New York at Duane Reade, I'm convinced the formula is different.
Q: Is there something you like to collect when you travel?
A: I'm not a big collector. I don't raid the hotel for toiletries or anything like that.
Q: How is the way you travel different from how your husband travels?
A: My husband's business trips are two or three days max, and he never checks luggage. He packs a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a suit—that's it. Even when we travel together for pleasure, the only thing he checks is his set of golf clubs. I don't consider myself an over-packer, but I like to have options and I like to be relatively hands-free while walking through the airport. Plus, the limit on liquids you can take onto the plane makes it impossible for me not to check my cosmetics.
Q: Which cosmetics and beauty products do you need to have with you at all times?
A: I try to just bring the basics. I have mini containers of Cetaphil face wash that I refill. I bring eye scrub pads to remove eye makeup because they take up less space than liquids and there’s no risk of them spilling. La Roche UV cream for day and Nutritic for night, plus an SPF eye cream. Then concealer, eyeliner, mascara, and blush. I also bring dry shampoo to extend the life of my blowout.
Q: Is there a way you fold things to keep them from getting too wrinkled? Do you travel with clothing care things?
A: All of my shoes and handbags go in individual dust liners. Lingerie goes in a separate linen bag. I pack purses within purses to maximize space and keep them from getting crushed. Sweaters are folded with tissue paper; and I pack my hanging things in garment bags that I fold in half at the top of my suitcase. I find this keeps my clothes relatively wrinkle-free.
Q: Window or aisle?
A: Aisle. I hate having to climb over my seatmate when I need to use the restroom.
Q: Wheels or no wheels on your luggage?
A: Definitely wheels. Trunks are beautiful but impractical for travel today (unless you have someone attending to your luggage at all times). Lugging heavy bags through an airport is just pure and unnecessary torture.
Read More on Collecting