“I either cut it really close, or I’m at the airport very, very early,” says Jen Rubio, co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Away – the suitcase line that’s swiftly becoming the travelling wing(wo)man to every editor in the fashion industry. “On domestic flights, I’ve mastered the art of leaving my home or office with the exact amount of time that’s needed to breeze through, quickly walk to the gate, and be one of the last ones in the seat!”

Considering Rubio has made the art of stylish journeying her business, it’s hardly surprising that she’s got the game of airport navigation down to a slick operation. Her luxury luggage brand, which she co-Founded with Steph Korey back in 2015, has made a Concorde-swift ascent to success, thanks equally to its mantra of being more than your average suitcase label – “a home between homes, your closet between closets, your outlet between outlets” – and a less than hefty pricing via its direct-to-consumer approach.

In anticipation of our winter-sun getaways (they can’t come soon enough!), we asked Jen for her top travel tips when it comes to packing, how to master the art of the airport, and why she and Steph decided to do things a little differently...

Try as we might, we are yet to nail the secret of packing light... How do we keep ourselves organised?
I am a notorious over-packer, so packing cubes are a lifesaver for me – in fact, I swear by them so much that we created a line of our own! Packing cubes are especially great if you’re traveling to multiple places or different climates, because you can pack each one by the destination. They’ll save you so much room and keep you organised.

What is your airport routine?
When I’m not running to catch a flight, I can head to the lounge to get some work done. There are some lounges (like the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at Heathrow), where it’s worth it to get there early for the food, cocktails, and free spa treatments.

I also pick up a few things from duty-free and frequent a few luxury stores, like Gucci at Heathrow, which always has styles that are sold out elsewhere... Plus, if you phone in advance, they’ll even order things in for you that you can get duty-free!

Make like Jen and Hot-Foot it to Gucci

How do you get to the end of a long-haul journey, and actually feel like a functioning human?
Since I travel pretty often, I’ve learned to pack a few things that make my travels a bit more seamless: Noise-cancelling headphones(!) and a silk eye mask from Slip, so I can catch a few hours of sleep, and I’ll take supplements (usually elderberry), which are great for your immune system.

My ultimate pairing is our Bigger Carry-On in Navy and The Everywhere Bag in Hong Kong Leather, which I use to keep my laptop and in-flight essentials handy. I also bring travel-sized versions of my favorite toiletries: CAP Beauty face mist, Vitruvi Balance roll-on essential oils, and IGK dry shampoo.

I’m often traveling from the office to the airport, and then straight to a business meeting or dinner with friends, so I’ll wear simple silhouettes and pieces that easily transition from day to night, made from natural materials that won’t wrinkle mid-flight. For me, that usually means some variation of a black slip dress, a sweater, and a comfortable pair of sneakers. I’ll pack a vintage blazer and my Balenciaga booties so that I can quickly change at the airport.

Shop Jen's Carry-On Beauty Essentials

What makes the Away case special?
We talked to hundreds of people before we started Away to understand what people actually wanted from a suitcase, and we used those conversations to design our first product, The Carry-On. Our luggage is thoughtfully made with everything you need and nothing you don’t; it includes features like a compression pad to maximise space, and a built-in laundry bag.

We frequently heard that it was frustrating that people’s phones always died at the airport, so our carry-ons come with a built-in but removable battery. For me (and many others), that feature is a game-changer, because I’ll never have to travel with a dead phone again!

I never thought I’d become an entrepreneur; the idea for Away actually came out of a personal pain point! My suitcase broke while I was at the airport, and none of my most well-travelled friends had any brands that they could recommend.

When my co-Founder Steph and I started digging into the luggage industry, two things stood out to us: The first was that luggage at the time was either cheap, but terrible in terms of quality, or it was more expensive than the trip you were taking it on! Many brands were talking about the features of their products (the zippers and the wheels etc.) but none were talking about travel.

We recognised an opportunity from both a product and a brand perspective, to create a premium product at an unprecedented price point by going direct-to-consumer, and to create a travel brand that told a broader narrative – one that got people excited about what they can do with their luggage and where they could go with it.

You’ve worked with Peace Direct since the beginning, right? Tell us about that partnership.
Steph and I have always believed that you could do well as a business, while also doing good for the world, so we partnered with Peace Direct before we even sold a single suitcase.

'Peacebuilding' isn’t a commonly understood term, but we’re using our storytelling skills to bring more attention to it, and to highlight the stories of people in areas of conflict around the world. We believe that travel and experiencing new cultures and meeting new people around the world has the power to break down barriers and improve cross-cultural understanding.

Peace Direct is working to do that at the local level every day, and we’re proud to help bring those stories to life.

For luggage that goes further, click here to discover Away.

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