The Many Ways in Which a Simple Scent Can Fix Your Travel Woes

by Mark Ellwood / BLOOMBERG

World famous fragrance guru Jo Malone, 54, founded her namesake candle and scent line in 1994. After selling it to Estée Lauder Cos, she remained creative director for several years before leaving to start her second perfume company, Jo Loves.

Like her first, Jo Loves focuses on sleek, unisex fragrances in all formats: Candles, colognes and creams. Malone has just launched a travel-friendly addition to the line, a fragrance paintbrush that offers a scented gel that can be applied almost anywhere at any time.

“I have absolutely no idea how many air miles I fly each year, but I’m on a plane two or three times a month,” she says.

Her favourite airline: Emirates. “The whole experience: from check-in to when you get off the plane at the other end. And I love the bar in the back.”

Malone lives in London with her husband and son.


When you fly, use hand sanitiser — but not on your hands.

I travel a lot on planes, and I’ve got quite hardy — I don’t go down with bugs and things, but one of the things I do a surgeon once taught me. You know that antibacterial gel you put in your hand? Put a little bit just under your nose, so if you breathe in any bugs, it might kill them as you breathe in. I do that whenever I sit on a plane, a tiny bit of stuff around my nose.


Why you should never take the first room you’re offered in a hotel.

One time, in Dubai, we arrived late at night and were put in a room. As soon as I go to sleep, I can hear footsteps on the ceiling that go on until 4:30am. So, the next morning I get up and realise we’re right under the bar, which is not a smart place to put anybody.

So, I went downstairs and said, “Would it be possible to change rooms?” and they say, “No, there are no more rooms left.” I know it’s absolute rubbish, so I said, “OK, that’s fine, could you arrange a car? I’ll be moving hotels.”

They said, “Can we come back to you?” A little while later they called me back and said, “We don’t have many rooms left, but we have one and we’d very much like you and your family to enjoy it.”

It was the penthouse overlooking the Palm — it was bigger than my apartment — and we had a week there. I hadn’t screamed or shouted at all. Now, I never take the first room I’m offered in a hotel. I always go and check it; the cases don’t go up until I’ve done that. And it’s always paid off.


Never travel without these helpful little household basics.

I always take two boxes of Ziploc bags, because you can do anything with a Ziploc. I take two sizes: The big ones [freezer/gallon] and the little ones [sandwich size].

One time, when we went to a tiny little desert island, on our first morning, my husband stood on a piece of glass and cut his foot. We were on a beach, in the middle of nowhere, but what did I do? I cleaned it, and I put his foot in a Ziploc bag so he was able to walk down the beach.

If you’ve washed a T-shirt out in the hotel and realise it’s not dry enough when you need to pack up and leave? You pop it in a Ziploc. Ziplocs are, without doubt, your best friend.


Scent can be a powerful aid in scary situations.

We used to travel a lot and do long-haul flights when Josh, my son, was really tiny. So I used to put fragrance [on his bed at home] when he used to go to bed — a really citrusy, light cologne. Then, when we travelled, I would put it onto his pajamas, and he’d smell it and think it was bedtime.

And if you have a problem with your ears, coming up or coming down, if you smell something quite strong it can shock your brain into not panicking. When you’re in pain, your brain intensifies it, but if you can cause your brain to think about something else — like really strong lavender — you concentrate on that and it can actually make the pain not so intense. You can divert the attention from it for a while.


Here’s the only travel pillow you need.

I always travel with one of those little travel pillows, which folds up into a circle like a tiny mattress. I got it in Chicago at one of those little airport spas, XpresSpa.

It’s hollow in the middle so you can put your hands inside to keep warm if you’re travelling to the mountains, or you can use it as a roll neck pillow behind your knees or your neck, or unzip it and it becomes a support for your back on the chair.

It’s absolutely brilliant, much better than those pillows you get with beans in them which are not very comfortable. I’ve scented it, so it smells like home to me.


The best way to combat jet lag? Stay busy as soon as you land.

On the first night you arrive somewhere, focus and keep yourself active. Don’t watch a movie, don’t sit down. I try to find somewhere really buzzy to have dinner, for example, because it keeps you awake.

The worst thing would be to go to a spa. Just do something that keeps you active and occupies your mind. In Seattle, for instance, we got in a little pony and trap and went round the city. It was 4am for us, but it was so interesting and alive with things. It made you go a little bit longer.

In New York, depending on what time it is, I’ll go to a Duane Reade shop and that keeps me awake. It’s all these funny little triggers to keep me going until I drop.


Her favourite airport — and why she loves it so much.

I love Dubai, because it’s so consumer-oriented. I mean, I don’t have little [kids] but I love the fact that, when you get off that plane, there are little Emirates buggies to get into. There’s always somebody there to help you.

But the best thing, which we as a family love, is if you’re on the late flight [back to London], in the lounge restaurant, they do the best chicken curry.


Malone’s favourite travel souvenir? Sparkly belts.

I go to Montana every year to ride horses in the mountains, and every year I buy a jewelled, glittery, sparkly belt. They’re all cowboy belts, you know — they’re not for the fainthearted. I’ve got nine of them now.

We go into Bozeman before we go off to Mountain Sky Ranch and on the way there’s this big store called Murdoch’s which sells everything from tractors to sparkly belts. My family can’t bear Murdoch’s, but I love it.

I always have to buy a sparkly belt there, which costs, like US$30 (RM126), so not horrendously expensive. I wear one every day while riding and sometimes in London.


Her packing method is precise.

I’m a complete control freak. So I have a [clothing] rail at home where I work out every day what I’m gonna wear [when I travel]. It stops you taking too much.

If you do that, you can look at all your clothes and think “That’s for Monday, I could use that Thursday …” so it’s a very easy way of packing.

Then I pack everything in outfits; I put my white T-shirts into Ziplocs, of course, in case anything leaks in the case.

I use tissue paper, and spray it with cologne, then pack shirts in it: It stops them creasing, and when they come out they smell lovely and fresh. Bloomberg



At Bloomberg Pursuits, we love to travel. And we always want to make sure we’re doing it right. So, we’re talking to globe-trotters in all of our luxury fields — food, wine, fashion, cars, real estate — to learn about their high-end hacks, tips and off-the-wall experiences. These are the Distinguished Travel Hackers.