Slobodanka Graham


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Pack like a professional; arrive like a celebrity.

Pack like a professional; arrive like a celebrity.

I chatted to Roslyn Russell, Director, Roslyn Russell Museum Services; Chair, UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Committee, author of many books on the significance of museum artefacts and most recently of High Seas & High Teas: Voyaging to Australia, published by the National Library of Australia. 

I was lucky to catch up with Roslyn between one of her many trips nationally and internationally. This is what she had to say:

Q: I know you travel extensively - domestically and internationally - for your work. What's that like for you?

A: I enjoy it mostly, although sometimes the scheduling is a bit crazy - this happens when you are subject to what the client wants/needs, and not able to determine the timing yourself. I must confess that, these days, I enjoy travelling within Australia as much as going further afield.

Q: You recently travelled from Australia to Europe, the United Kingdom and Barbados. That's quite a range of destinations! How did you prepare and pack for that?

A: I worked out what I needed to take, in terms of the type of meetings I was attending, numbers of formal dinners etc, also the different climate zones. I tried to take clothing that was as light as possible, and kept most work on a USB stick, apart from one paper file.

Q: How lightly do you travel? 

A: As lightly as I can, but see answer above.

Q: You recently said it's challenging for you to reach the overhead locker on larger aeroplanes. Tell us about that.

A: I am short and also middle-aged (some would say elderly!) - I no longer have the physical strength to punt a heavy bag into an overhead locker, or retrieve it. In some aircraft I need to stand on the seat to do this, and I have come close to dropping my bag on other passengers.

Q: When would you consider flying and travelling with carry on luggage only?

A: I did this a couple of years ago when flying to Indonesia for a few days. But they made me check the bag in on the way home. I would love to be able to do this, but see answer above - it is simply not practical in my case.

Q: What are your different techniques for travelling and packing nationally and internationally? And what about road versus air?

A: As light as possible for air travel - while I do not attempt to fly with hand luggage only, I still have to lug a suitcase off and on to airport scales, baggage carousels and, in unfortunate cases, up and down stairs in train stations and in some hotels. If my suitcase is too heavy, this becomes impracticable. Road travel is great - I lay crushable clothing on the back seat of the car and take a small bag for everything else. And I can take more and bigger cameras and books.

Q: You've travelled to many foreign destinations. What are some of the cultural differences?

A: Heavens, where do I start? I guess in relation to preparing for a trip, I need to consider dress codes - headscarves for Muslim countries such as Iran, or long-sleeved clothing for Indonesia and other conservative countries. Dressier clothing than I might wear here is more appropriate for the West Indies. I generally need to take more formal clothing on trips than people travelling for tourism would do, as I have to attend meetings or present in workshops and conferences a lot of the time. And wearing very casual clothing in some settings can cause offence in some countries.

Q: I believe you use an Airpocket. Would you like to tell us about that?

A: Airpocket is a wonderful handbag substitute, designed to carry all the items you will need to keep close to you during a flight. It is sturdy, nicely designed and has lots of useful compartments. I do tend to use it as a handbag when travelling (except for formal occasions, when I have a very small black shoulder bag that I bought in New York a few years ago that will do for all evening occasions).

Q: You recently travelled with your grandchildren. What advice or comments do you have when travelling and flying with small children?

A: I didn't actually travel with them - just met them at the destination. But it is a major production travelling with small children and not for the faint-hearted!

Q: What other comments and advice do you have for light travellers?

If in doubt, leave it out! Look at everything that you are thinking of taking and ask yourself if you really need to take it. Can you mix and match it with a range of items? Dress it up with light-weight accessories? And scarves are light - take as many as you can cram in. And don't take too many shoes - you won't need as many as you may think.

Read more about Roslyn and her achievements. 

Airpocket is a stylish carry on for the airline seat pocket. I'm looking forward to talking to the Airpocket founders in a future post.

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