Ally Betker is probably the person you need to know when it comes to making suitcases sound pretty. Not that that’s an issue when it comes to Away’s It luggage – the suitcases that countless celebrities are checking on to their private jets right now.
As editor of the glossy Away ‘Here’ magazine, Ally knows exactly how she likes to travel (read: with rosewater mist and “not going on a trip with too many expectations”).
Originally from Missouri, Ally went to school in Boston before moving to New York and settling in Brooklyn: “I’ve wanted to live here for as long as I can remember, and still love those NYC moments that make you want to pinch yourself, like walking through Washington Square Park at night.”
As Away opens its first standalone UK store in London’s chic Seven Dials and Here magazine celebrates its one year anniversary, we thought it was the perfect time to check Ally in to talk suitcases and travel.
Time to delve into Ally’s suitcase psyche…
What is the first trip you remember taking?
I’m not sure if I remember it, or if I’ve just internalised the photos, but my parents took a cross-country road trip with me when I was three years old. We drove through Bryce Canyon, Acadia, and Zion National Parks. I still think fondly of my childhood vacations as adventures from the back seat of a rented minivan, exploring the United States’ natural wonders.
If you could sit next to anyone – dead or alive – on a long-haul flight, who would it be?
Best case scenario on a long-haul flight is when the seat next to you is empty 😉 But otherwise, I’d want to sit next to Anthony Bourdain, and ask him about how he found and made so many connections around the world.
How do you usually recover from jet-lag?
Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix, but one trick is to try to match your eating schedule in transit to meal times in the destination that you’re travelling to. That way when you land your body is already in tune with when it should be awake or asleep. Otherwise, making sure you get moving as soon as you get off the plane, whether that’s walking around the city or heading to the hotel gym – it’s best to fight the urge to sleep.
Your flight’s delayed an hour and your phone’s out of battery. How do you pass the time?
I tend to travel with The Bigger Carry-On from Away, which comes with a built-in but removable charger, so I rarely have a dead phone while I’m travelling. But I also always have multiple library books checked out – I still love reading physical books, so I haven’t been able to make the switch to an e-reader, even though it means less space for other things!
Biggest lesson from your travels?
Keep an open mind, always. You never know who you might meet or what hidden gems you might find that could change your life! Also, don’t go on a trip with too many expectations – let the whole experience surprise you in some ways.
Do you travel for food, leisure, culture or something else?
Definitely a combination of all the above! One of my favorite cities in the world is Lisbon, where you can truly find a bit of all of those things.
What’s your favourite hotel and why?
I’ve had the pleasure of staying at a lot of fabulous hotels throughout my travels for Here magazine, but recently I went to Puebla, Mexico, and stayed at Hotel Cartesiano – one of the first luxury properties in the city. Puebla is still rebuilding after the 2017 earthquake, but there’s been a big push for tourism there recently and it’s worth the visit: amazing architecture, history, and food. Hotel Cartesiano encompasses all of these elements – the hotel is comprised of two restored 18th century buildings, and it’s worth a visit to the mole at their restaurant, Centena Cuatro, alone.
What’s your favourite airline and why?
I’m partial to Southwest Airlines because they fly direct from LaGuardia to St. Louis, where I grew up. Their weird seating assignments throw people for a loop (you line up in order and then pick your seat once you board the plane), but I find it quirky and kind of sweet – just like the Midwest really.
What’s on your travel playlist?
My Spotify account is admittedly all over the place: My most recent downloads include “Still Run” from Wet’s new album, “Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie, “I’ll Take You There” by the Staple Sisters, and “Lucky Penny” by JD McPherson.
Aside from a weekend trip to the Berkshires to check out a new hotel I’m really excited about called TOURISTS, I’m mostly staying put in New York City right now, which is fine by me. I love exploring the city where I live as if I’m vacationing there.
What are your must-have travel picks?
I love using the Away Dopp Kit for toiletries and other small items, plus charcoal pills (so I can worry less about eating something my body doesn’t agree with); Muji notebooks (to keep with me for whenever I’m feeling particularly inspired); and a rose water mist because travel can be really dehydrating for your skin, plus it has a great calming effect to keep you relaxed in moments of stress while you’re away.
ALLY'S TRAVEL ESSENTIALS
First thing that comes to your mind?
Your hand-luggage essential?
Packing: roll or fold?
Time killer on a long-haul flight?
On-flight tipple of choice?
Water – hydration is key!
Bucket list top destination?
Best shopping gem found abroad?
Having clothes handmade by the tailors in India
Beach or City?
My backyard in Brooklyn
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