Why This Traveler Totes Touches of Home (and Juicy Fruit)
In this monthly Travel Checklist column, we ask entrepreneurs to open up their carry-ons and share the items they can't leave home without.
Mariam Naficy has always had an appreciation for the wider world. It helps when you spend your childhood living in five different countries. The founder and chief executive officer of Minted, an online marketplace that features stationery, wall art, and home decor from independent designers, spent time in Kuwait, Lebanon, Tanzania, Iran, and Egypt growing up. Now based in San Francisco, she's kept the journey going ever since.
Naficy averages two or three international and about seven domestic trips a year, for work and play -- roughly 60,000 miles in total. But she's determined not to let all that travel take its toll. "My whole strategy is to keep comfortable and healthy when I'm on the road," she says.
That road brought Naficy most recently to Haiti. She serves on the board of Every Mother Counts, a nonprofit founded by Christy Turlington Burns to increase access to maternal care in developing nations, which traveled to Port-au-Prince, Mirebalais, and Jacmel, to see its impact on the ground, including the graduation ceremony of the first group of midwives the organization has helped provide training for. "It was very moving," she says. "Especially to see these women graduate and get out there to do some good."
Fresh off that trip, we asked Naficy to open up her bag and share what she brought with her.
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1. Lo & Sons "O.G." and Celine bags
"This Lo & Sons bag is fantastic. It takes a beating, but always looks sharp and is very lightweight. It has padding for my computer and lots of great pockets to keep track of things. I also have a cross-body black bag from Celine that I use every day when I'm walking around. It forces me to keep very little on me, which is better for my back."
2. A book
"I'm usually reading a book at all times. On this trip, I was reading Mountains Beyond Mountains about Dr. Paul Farmer, who has done amazing work in Haiti with his organization Partners In Health. Now, I'm on to The Everything Store about Amazon and Jeff Bezos. One of the reasons I like to travel is to get outside my existence in the world. Reading a book at the same time tends to reinforce that. For example, in this case, I wanted to see Haiti through someone else's eyes, reinforce the experience, and learn about the people and the places we were going to see. It was really interesting to understand the history. That immediately put me into a different mind space.
3. Mariage Frères tea
"I like to bring my favorite tea on the road with me so that I can feel at home. Pictured here is my all-time favorite -- 'Earl Grey French Blue' by Mariage Frères."
4. Juicy Fruit gum
"I'm a sucker for fun flavors of gum, like Juicy Fruit. I think it comes from this habit I picked up in the '80s as a high school kid. I was living in Egypt at the time, and when we'd stop in the U.S., I'd stock up on things like Juicy Fruit and Bubble Yum, because that was deemed super cool. And I think it stuck. When I'm thinking about having fun, I'm thinking about chewing flavorful gum. A simple indulgence of my youth."
"I bring stationery with me on the road and catch up on thank-you notes while I'm on the plane, particularly during the no-electronics-allowed periods. The notes are more on the personal side, but occasionally on the professional side as well. Let's say a teacher at my children's school has done something nice, I want to thank them. I think it means a lot to someone that you took out a card, hand wrote a note, and put it in the mail -- it has a much bigger impact than email."
6. Hand-carved figurine
"I am an inveterate shopper and I love finding design treasures, even if I'm on a business trip. Growing up in five countries as a child, I grew accustomed to accompanying my mom on shopping trips through markets and bazaars -- spotting unique, beautiful, local items sometimes in the middle of a heap of other stuff. In this picture, you can see the beautiful hand-carved wood mermaid that I bought in a store in Jacmel, Haiti. It was hidden on the floor in the dark, and I was thrilled when I spotted it. I toted it back in my carry-on."
"Using undereye concealer is an immediate way to look fresher upon arrival. I use Laura Mercier for this. I also absolutely love the Sugar Lip Treatment by Fresh. It's the most natural, hint-of-tint thing you can put on your lips, and I don't go anywhere without it."
8. TOMS Shoes
"I love these for travel. They are light and comfortable and slip off easily for security checks."
"I like having a tiny flashlight in case I'm navigating in outdoor spaces in the dark -- actually quite common in resorts."
10. Oliver Peoples aviator sunglasses
"What I like about aviators is that they're very utilitarian. You can do something sporty in them. I can actually jog with my aviators -- they're very sturdy. I cross country ski in them. But they also dress up. You don't look like you're wearing sports sunglasses. It helps to only have to bring just one style."
11. Extra contact lenses
"I remember losing a contact in junior high in Egypt, and I said I'm going to be careful from now on. It was very hard to get replacements at the time. If I'm going to a place where it's hard to get replacement, I always carry them, in case one falls down the sink. I'm pretty bad with glasses, so I like multiple layers of safety net."
12. MacBook Air
"I can't deny it -- I work most of the time when I'm on planes. So my laptop is really my lifeline. I try to always take flights with wireless access."
For more than a decade, Rod Kurtz served as a journalist and advocate on behalf of entrepreneurs -- until finally becoming one himself. Today, he works as a media consultant for a variety of brands, organizations, and startups, to foster an ongoing conversation about entrepreneurship, including The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Cool Hunting, SCORE, and OPEN Forum, where he serves as Editor-at-Large.