Why This Traveler Packs a Mini-Hindu God in Her Carry-On
New York is one of the world's great cities. Only problem is, getting in and getting out ain't a whole lot of fun. Manhattan is a 23-square-mile island metropolis with plenty of tunnels and bridges -- and they're all crowded all the time. It's a grind that Claudia Chan endures several times a week, by Wi-Fi-enabled bus, commuting from her home in Southampton, Long Island, about two hours and 100 miles away.
The founder and CEO of S.H.E. Globl Media, which creates content and conferences to empower women leaders in a variety of industries, makes the regular trek to maintain a more tranquil sanctuary outside the hustle-and-bustle of the Big Apple.
"I think of living in Southampton as a sabbatical from the city, to gain more physical space and focus my energy on what matters most in my life right now," she says. "With much less noise around me, I've been able to maniacally focus on building the business and develop a great infrastructure for the whole team to work remotely. Now, we can all have more work/life balance."
But Chan's travels aren't limited to the Empire State -- as a speaker and panelist, she often finds herself at events in Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Miami, and St. Louis. She saves international travel mostly for vacation, bringing her total to about 45,000 miles a year.
"Exposure to new and different environments remind us of how big, diverse, and interesting the world is," Chan says. "It expands my ability to be creative and curious and gets my endorphins going. It's also humbling to be new and unfamiliar with different territories."
So whether it's her regular commute from the Hamptons or somewhere more far-flung, Chan always has a backpack full of lifesavers to make the journey more enjoyable. We recently asked her to pop it open for us.
1. Fjall Ravel backpack. "This is a cool brand from Sweden known for its outdoor trekking clothing. As my work feels like conquering mountains at times, there's something more adventurous about carrying a backpack as my carry-on -- the neutral color coordinates with my New York style, and the rugged look makes it seem like I can tackle anything."
2. Aimee Raupp Beauty's Organic Oil Cleanser & Balancing Face Oil. "My acupuncturist taught me that as the largest organ of your body, your skin absorbs whatever you put on it in as little as 26 seconds. So when I tested her handmade oils, I got hooked and can't go anywhere without them. It's pure enough to eat -- so I know it's good for my body to absorb."
3. The (un)mat from lululemon. "I need a meditation or yoga fix every day. This mat is super light and easy to pack, so I can practice in my hotel room or wherever I am staying."
4. Bobs the Menace slip-on sneaker by Skechers. "At 5'2, I am in heels quite often. These give my feet and lower back a break in between events and meetings -- and the brand has given millions of shoes to children in need."
6. Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt Kind Bars. "I am always hungry when I travel. These are great because they're gluten-free and are like eating a handful of healthy nuts smothered in dark-chocolate goodness."
7. Cleanwell Natural Hand Sanitizer Spray. "This is the best-smelling hand sanitizer and it spritzes, so it's less messy than gels."
8. Gillette Venus Snap Razor. "The tiniest, highest-quality razor around. I keep this baby in my cosmetics bag."
9. Strange Invisible Perfume in Aquarian Rose. "Perfume enhances my mood like nothing else. This refreshing scent has rose, orange, marjoram, and sandalwood. It's a natural organic botanical perfumery, so I'm breathing in nature, not chemicals."
10. Paisley Organic Earl Grey tea bags. "I recently quit coffee, so this tea is my new best friend. I'm sneaking them into hot water at restaurants, but they're handy when I stay at hotels or with friends as well."
11. Quotable Cards. "My most successful days are those guided by positive thoughts. I tuck these cards in my laptop case to remind me to strive for greatness."
12. S.H.E. Summit postcards. "I tell everyone I meet about my fourth-annual women's conference. There's no faster way to communicate what it is than to visually show them the information."
13. Mini Hair claw clips. "I can get my hair ready in one minute with these clips. My friends are always amazed at the messy poof updos I create with them!"
14. Miniature Ganesh sculpture. "A gift from my yoga teacher, Susanna Rubin. Ganesh is a Hindu god referred to as 'the remover of obstacles.' He is the ability within us to smash down walls and shift whatever is holding us back. He hangs out next to my laptop and I rub his head when I feel stuck."
15. iPad Mini. "This comes in the most handy for all the panels and speeches I give at conferences and events. That and YogaGlo.com classes that I practice on my mat."
16. Multivitamin hand and nail treatment (from Dermalogica). My hands spend the most time on keyboards and electronic devices. This is the champion of hand creams because it's non-greasy, fast absorbing and anti-aging all-in-one. I also love the corporate values of Dermalogica as their foundation FITE empowers women and girls through entrepreneurship.
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