(Bloomberg) – At Bloomberg Pursuits, we love to travel. And when it’s possible again, we want to make sure we get it right. So we speak to globetrotters in all of our luxury areas – food, wine, fashion, cars, real estate – to learn more about their high-end hacks, time-saving tips, and unusual experiences. These are the distinguished travel hackers.
Australian fashion photographer Bridget Fleming has worked all over the world including Iceland, Fiji, Morocco and Peru, shooting for brands such as Net-a-Porter and Abercrombie & Fitch, as well as several international editions of Vogue.
Fleming usually flies Delta when she can and has several American Express credit cards co-branded with the airline to make sure they maxx their status. Each offers an annual bonus per year tied to a certain amount of spending; she uses you until she reaches the threshold that triggers her. “Then I put it in for the calendar year and pick up the second one,” she laughs. (It’s not that her typical pre-pandemic schedule ever risked her top tier status; she covered around 228,000 miles in 2019.
Although Fleming traveled further in the Covid-19 era, she always packs masks in every bag so you don’t get lost. “You always fiddle around with multiple bags, and there’s always a bag with a mask, just in case,” she says, “it’s disposable or non-disposable – whatever. There’s something in every bag.”
She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her partner, photographer Hans Neumann. However, they will spend more time in Italy, where the two are preparing their first hospitality project: the Masseria Madre, which will open in early 2022, is located near the town of Ostuni in Puglia, where it occupies just over seven hectares permanent orchard of olive trees.
Here are Fleming’s travel hacks.
If you visit certain places frequently, this single tool will keep you sane.
There are tons of essential travel essentials that are literally in “to-go” bags organized by continent and / or country for destinations I often take photos of. These containers, easy to find on Amazon, are in my office and ready to fly. I put local currencies – coins and bills – adapters, direct numbers from local drivers, all subway cards, and the occasional business card of a restaurant that I liked on the last ride. These bags are thrown in my hand luggage and are ready to break open on landing right in front of a wheeled suitcase.
Always check that this window seat is actually equipped with a window.
Personally, I like to look out the window because I like to see where I’m going and when I’m landing. On more than one occasion, I ended up in a seat without a window and was a bit puzzled because it was a flight that lasted more than a couple of hours, like from New York to LA. This problem seems [mostly] Effects on flights within the US with mid-size jets. So I always look at an article on the Points Guy that deals with configuration and flying and has a few pointers on window seats that actually don’t have windows. If you’re an avid window seat passenger, it is worth checking your seat configuration online. (SeatGuru is a great resource.) Not all window seats are created equal.
On a business trip last fall, she stumbled upon one of her new favorite destinations.
I was in Alaska for work [last year], and we stumbled upon Talkeetna, this very cute little town that is like the Woodstock of Alaska. And it’s the starting point for anyone going to Denali. I use Talkeetna Air Taxi, which has an impeccable safety record. They are based in Talkeetna, which is also where Denali Brewing Co. is based – well worth a pint to visit. My uncomplicated accommodation is where the mountaineers sleep, the Swiss Alaska, which is not overly “bourgeois”. There are a handful of Airbnb properties with a little more glamor, like Belle’s Cabin.
If budget is not a concern and you want to get to Denali, try the Sheldon Chalet, which is deep in the national park and only accessible by helicopter. The landscape in Alaska is really phenomenal. Go mid-season – like June, when you don’t have to battle the same crowds to get reservations like July or August. And at the end of the season everyone is a little more relaxed, much friendlier and more welcoming.
In Europe there is a weight and size consideration where you have your [carry-on] Bag in a size container; they can be pretty strict. Therefore, when I travel, I usually wear a very spacious trench coat with lots of pockets in which to hide things – not when going through security, but when checking in or at the gate. I have a very nice Isabel Marant trench coat that is light, with inside and outside pockets – kind of oversized. There’s a little more pocket space, maybe for a lens on each side? For the same reason, I also make sure my bags are like Russian dolls, where one bag goes inside a bag that turns into a smaller shoulder bag. You may have to check in a roll-up bag at the gate, but it’s almost empty as you can take your cameras with you. It’s an extra bag for your precious belongings, can’t find the shoe that you don’t need to buy at home in New York? Try this beachfront boutique instead.
If you want this cute little Jil Sander bag that is sold out everywhere – and it’s not available – try a multi-brand boutique somewhere like the Greek Islands or the Amalfi Coast. It is these semi-“bourgeois” high-traffic vacation destinations that may not have a standalone boutique for a brand, however [might] some labels in stock. I’ve been to Santorini and that’s what happened. You may also be lucky enough to find a shoe or clutch in the larger city boutiques of Love Me Santorini that is otherwise sold out. Pampering yourself is a nice surprise. This bag is the ultimate in discreet, hands-free travel companion.
I don’t travel with a Rimowa: the brand is beautiful and elegantly made, but I also think that it makes you a beacon or a target [for theft]. A few years ago I switched my hand luggage to Travelpro 21, a brand preferred by airline employees. It’s not the hottest piece of luggage, but the four-wheeled carry-on bag will continue to roll straight on by your side with a bit of momentum – hands-free – as you post the final, urgent messages approaching your gate. It also signals to gate staff that this bag will fit in any overhead so there is no risk of your camera equipment being checked at the gate. Never save with a cheap flight ticket.
Well worth the extra £ 20 to spend [$27] on one ticket to get on first when flying on a low-cost airline like easyJet or Ryanair. Remember, you are on a low cost airline so you have a little wiggle room and elbow room as you will all try to get on board as soon as possible. So if you have the chance to arrive before everyone else, relax and have no problems or problems with what you might be wearing. I think it’s valuable. I think it is a small amount of money for the method of return. If you go out that evening, just have one less cocktail. Even if you are not entitled to compensation for flight-related problems, it is always worth asking.
We only had a case about eight days ago that we were six hours late. So myself – plus my three people who were traveling with me – we only received the courtesy of only 15,000 miles from Delta each time. Just call and ask. When we landed, I got in touch: be polite and give me a call and explain the situation. Airlines are very receptive to keeping travelers happy (and using them frequently). Make it easy in Uber between your airport and the hotel. Why not try adding more miles to this trip?
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