Travel Advice from Karis

I’ve always been a fan of travel, of exploring new places, of temporarily trying on a new life somewhere else. Over the past few years, traveling through Europe and the US with art exhibitions has become a major part of my work-life. Although the travel can be exciting, it can also be exhausting and hard on the body and mind. 

With all this practice, I’ve found a couple of tools and rituals that really help ease the transition: 

When packing, I try to keep things light, always packing in the same carry on bag and keeping things to a minimum. 

One specific thing I always pack is a special oversized blue jacket I bought second-hand a few years ago. It has since become a part of my traveling essentials. It looks good, is cozy and doubles as a blanket on planes and trains and as a robe in a cold hotel room or when having a glass of wine on a chilly terrace. 

If I’m traveling for work, there are times I’ll land in a new place and have many hours of cargo or transport ahead of me before finally getting to a hotel. In those cases I’ll plan ahead and pack a spare sweater in my backpack so I can freshen up, along with a little bag of essentials, toothbrush and toothpaste, Moon Mouth, which keeps me healthy even when moving around, and rose water, which I spritz myself with often. I always make sure to have a few snacks too. There’s not a day where I don’t have raw walnuts and dates tucked into my bag, and some sealed snacks are important when traveling internationally. 

When I finally arrive, especially if I’m changing time zones, the first thing I’ll try to do is bathe. Taking the time to wash away the travel, to relax and unwind and start anew is a major priority.  During the first couple years I tried to be very minimal about my toiletries, but in the end I didn’t feel completely settled. Now my dopp kit is packed with little bottles of the familiar favorites I use daily. I have a mini Japanese sisal brush that I use to dry brush. It’s such an invigorating way to start the day or at transition, and it helps me feel awake and alert after the travel sleepies start to kick in. I also always travel with a little chunk of my friend Addison’s soap, so I can bathe blissfully anywhere. Then on the face, toner, moisturizer, and Sea of Clouds, and finally I slather on loads of Everyday Oil everywhere else. 

Once clean, I try to drink plenty of water and make sure to have a glass with Sea of Serenity, which might be my favorite Suu Kuu product of all (I also keep a bottle in my desk for particularly tricky days...). I’ll then stretch, and hang out with legs up the wall for a bit, and spend a little time planning for the rest of the day. 

 After a flight between timezones my number one priority is to get out into the world and get as much sun as I can the first few days. I find it helps immensely with readjusting circadian rhythms and fighting jet lag. I like to try to keep my arrival day really simple. A long walk to get to know the neighborhood, find a nice coffee shop, a good park, maybe make a little grocery run, and finally dinner at the time appropriate in the new time. It can be really difficult, but I find it so important to try and get on a schedule as soon as possible. 

After dinner, I’ll make a cup of tea (right now, Leaves and Flowers’ Van Van, but I have a habit of picking up tila/linden flower tea at local health food shops, which always reminds me of my abuela). Then, I’ll make a warm cup of Lake of Dreams- the lavender is so calming and I find the nightly ritual of making this tincture helps prepare me for rest, even in new surroundings or at a strange time. 

I always like to travel with a few special objects. It helps make a temporary apartment or hotel room feel so much more like home. I always bring a few books, a notebook for making sketches and keeping track of daily adventures (and also good for pressing fallen leaves or flowers), a knitting project, and a few other bits like a few special notes from loved ones.

Lastly, I try and make an effort to send a few postcards while on a trip. I initially thought about this as more for the receiver than myself, but in the last year it’s turned into something new. A way to reflect in a very small space on experiencing the place-ness of traveling. When traveling for work it can sometimes feel like I am nowhere. The back hallways of museums all look very similar...However by taking the time to write a postcard to someone else, I allow myself a few moments to reflect on some aspect of where I am. A meal, a view, a language, a joy, a sadness, and try my best to share that moment. It’s a truly helpful reminder to be present in all of these temporary places.