Editor-in-Chief of  The GentlewomanPenny Martin, is no stranger to spending time in transit. As part of our series The One, Penny shares her consummate guide to stylishly surviving the long-haul and explores the sentimental side of packing.


What’s the one thing you love about travel?

I love the sense of leaving all my worries behind and being propelled into the future, literally. It doesn’t need to be glamorous jet travel, either—I get the same carefree rush from setting off on a London Routemaster.

What the one thing you find difficult about jetting off? 

Along with every fashion and magazine editor, I spend two months of every year on the road for fashion weeks. It forges a peculiar sort of intimacy, being forced to go on a month-long holiday with all of your colleagues and peers from other companies. Also, our company headquarters are in Amsterdam, and we have advertisers dotted all over the world, so I’m on a plane at least twice a month. I used to find packing really emotional, which is a bit of a drawback when you’re constantly on the move from New York, to London, to Milan, to Paris, but I’ve managed to crack that with the help of a packing list.


What’s the one item that makes travelling a little more luxurious? 

I have a beautiful cashmere travel blanket by Atelier E.B, which was made at the Begg mills in Ayr. It’s so warm, considering how fine it is, and the texture just gets better the more I travel with it.

What’s the one Smythson products would you choose above all others?

After years of persisting with neoprene laptop covers – and enduring several technological mishaps – I’ve graduated on to leather. The navy 13″ leather Panama feels like the height of luxury and is ideal for slipping into my black Burlington Holdall for a productive long-haul flight.



“I swear by aloe vera gel when travelling. It’s miracle stuff.”


What is the one thing that cures your jet lag?

Until recently, I would have said Melatonin tablets are the best thing for jet lag, but the make-up artist Lucia Pica told me that they make you feel sad, so I’ve been trying to be more fastidious about sleeping while on the plane instead of watching films. I find listening to one of the most boring albums on the in-flight musical selection on loop keeps me asleep for most of the journey.

What’s the one remedy, vitamin or supplement that you swear by for travelling?

I swear by aloe vera gel when travelling. It’s miracle stuff.

What’s the one book you’d always turn to in transit? 

I like a short, sharp shock – something like The Secret History by Donna Tartt or Super-Cannes or Cocaine Nights by J.G. Ballard. If I’ve got more time, an in-depth biography of a publishing scion will keep me entertained; Personal History by Katharine Graham is excellent. A book is also crucial during the fashion shows since PRs tend to seat you next to the same person all week, which is nice to begin with, but reading matter comes in useful once you run out of conversational gambits. Something slim that fits into a cross-body bag (like the Smythson Panama) is handy.


What is the one product from Smythson that you depend on?

I’m a prodigious diary writer; I’ve kept one since I was 11. The Smythson Portobello diary is the one item I’d choose above all others. And since I’ve worked with some of the craziest people in this industry and witnessed some of the most outrageous hissy fits in the history of fashion, I try to take my diary wherever I go. You know what they say about being sure to keep a diary because one day that diary will keep you…

What is the one item that you always steal (or want to steal) from a hotel?

I always steal the shower gel. My husband can’t get enough of it.

I’m pretty low-maintenance. A new pair of Hilditch & Key pyjamas in my suitcase, a bottle of Hermès’ Poivre Samarcande in my wash bag and a new episode of the You Must Remember This podcast queued up on iTunes is all I need.


What is the one item you won’t leave the country without?

Earphones. I listen to a lot of podcasts on the plane and in my hotel room, so I’d be bereft without some means of listening to them. I’m getting better at controlling the mess they get into in my bag, keeping all wires, converters and power sources in a big leather pouch like the Smythson Burlington pouch: I can actually see it at the bottom of an overstuffed tote. 



“My cat is mainly white, and no matter what I do to prevent it, her hair travels with me wherever I go. Muji does excellent lint rollers in three sizes; I recommend the medium.”

What is your one tip for in-flight comfort? 

Go without makeup; underwear requires extra thought. Always pack The New Yorker.

Where is the one hotel can always revisit?

I’m very fond of the Maritime in New York for old times’ sake, but my head was turned recently by a stay at the Ritz in Madrid. Very chic.

How would you spend one day in your home city, London? 

I’m in the Wolseley and Dean Street Townhouse often for breakfast since they’re located halfway between my home in Ealing and my office in Russell Square. And there, I tend to order my Death Row meal of boiled eggs and soldiers. For lunch, I love The Noble Rot, which is only a couple of streets away from The Gentlewoman’s offices. The entire menu looks great, but I haven’t moved on from the gnocchi yet – it’s delicious. They also serve half-glasses of wine, which is a sneaky way of circumventing the “no afternoon drinking” rule.  It would be disloyal to say anywhere other than J Sheekey for dinner: my first, my last, my everything.

What’s the one thing you’d recommend a tourist to do in London?

Use the 38 bus as your route, stopping off at Sadlers Wells for the ballet and Lubetkin’s wonderful Spa Green Estate, popping down to Holborn for Sir John Soane’s Museum, touring the theatre district and eating well in Soho. Then do a bit of shopping at Dover Street Market, Fortnum’s and Hatchard’s before tootling down to Knightsbridge to visit the V&A. Job done!


If you are only travelling with one bag, what do you pack?

I’m pretty low-maintenance. A new pair of Hilditch & Key pyjamas in my suitcase, a bottle of Hermès’ Poivre Samarcande in my wash bag and a new episode of the You Must Remember This podcast queued up on iTunes is all I need. Also, my cat is mainly white, and no matter what I do to prevent it, her hair travels with me wherever I go. Muji does excellent lint rollers in three sizes; I recommend the medium.

Just about everyone in the fashion industry has the same matte black hard suitcase, so a leather luggage label is essential to identifying yours on the luggage carousel (especially since editors all tend to be booked on the same flight for the fashion collections). Mine is a black Smythson one, but I guess I should really branch out into colour for expediency’s sake. Mosquito bites have been a terrible blight for me in the past, until our art director Veronica Ditting told me about the Bite Away electronic bite healer that is. It’s been a godsend.

Photography: Joss McKinley


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About This Series

The One: The definitive guide to the one thing that you must do in a city, take on your journey, or wear when you get there: from the best sashimi restaurant in Osaka, to the perfect travel-sized moisturiser; that one dress that never creases, to the place for late-night paella in Madrid. Take advice from the people who’ve seen it all, and never find yourself stuck queuing for a tourist trap again.

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