Insiders

Ted Gushue, Photographer and Digital Strategy Consultant

Ted Gushue is a Digital Strategy consultant and Photographer living in London and working around the world for brands like Porsche. But he’s also like the cat who has nine lives…except he isn’t a cat, and he’d probably hate that we just wrote that. Ted is your (above) average ex-New Yorker multi-hyphenate – he had his hand at successful DJ-ing and wrote for The Observer, worked in marketing at Grandlife Hotels (which owns The Roxy, amongst others), and then become the Editor in Chief of Supercompressor and later moved to LA to be Editor of Petrolicious– one of the world’s most popular classic car websites (2MM unique visitors a month!)….all before even turning 30. Ted is a trained photographer, writer, and editor, and has shot for publications like Architectural Digest.  He loves Aperol spritzes, traveling by the seat of his pants (200k miles last year would be a conservative estimate!), Slim Aarons, a great blue suit, and of course his Leica. His favorite car is a Porsche 911 S built in 1976.

Follow Ted Gushue on Instagram @tedgushue

What is the most unique hotel amenity you’ve ever encountered?

The Peninsula Hong Kong will embroider your initials on your pillow cases – one of the coolest things I’ve ever come across.

What hotel room design element can you not live without?

I like being able to have my shoes polished when I leave them outside the door at night before bed. It’s a small thing that really makes my day. 

What is/are your favorite “douchey offices” while traveling?

My whole life is one long string of lustworthy offices. Today I’m working from a houseboat on the Thames river just off of Chelsea embankement. Yes I am listening to Yacht Rock on Sonos. 

You travel for work- a LOT. How did you get into doing what you do?

I built and ran a few magazines while living in New York which lead to me having to hire a lot of people to do things that I wanted to do. Like go to events around the world and document them from the inside. Picking up my camera again in 2015 really changed the course of my life. It allowed me the freedom to tell a story from end to end. To not just be the writer, but also the photographer and the editor and the publisher – all in one.

What advice would you give someone who wants to get into the travel industry, or have travel as a critical part of their job?

If you are waiting for a dream company that will give you a $200k annual travel budget, you’re not going to find it. You can however train your work environment to let you work from where you need to be happy. I’m happy on the road, but you might be happy working from Barbados while your company is based in Boston. Depending on the nature of your work, there may be a way that you can do that same job while filling in the gaps with your own pocket money.

What 3 songs are on your OOO playlist?

Here’s my Spotify playlist that I keep most updated and listen to every day. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Seriously follow this! Ted was a professional DJ in NYC in a past life…and has the best & most eclectic taste in music).

What is your most used travel emoji?

The Crying laughing emoji, because sometimes my life is so hard to believe (even for myself) that I just have to laugh.

If you could swap suitcases with anyone in the world at baggage claim, who would you swap with?

Photographer Peter Beard.

Who is your dream “co-pilot” (travel partner- dead or alive), and why?

Haven’t met them yet. Traveling alone is bliss. No waiting.

If you’re going to a new place, and your friends have not been there, what do you consult for advice?

I’m quite lucky that I have a really engaged group of people that believe in the work that I’m doing, or at least are fans of what I share on instagram. If I’m in a new place (Bangkok for instance, where I did this interview for you!) I will take a photo of a landmark, and say I’m new in town and want to know whats up. 10/10 times it results in someone fascinating reaching out and meeting up with me for a beer. The world is much smaller than it seems, and the chances that you know someone who knows someone who has been to the little town you’re currently visiting is higher than you think.

Best Travel advise you’ve ever received, and from whom?

“Buy the ticket.” – Justin Shaffer

Anxiety and burn out are big topics these days. How do you combat them, and how do you use travel to do so?

Nothing cures a bad hangover like getting on a plane and fleeing the country, or even better – the continent. 

Do you have any favorite travel hacks (ways to score an upgrade, methods of getting your meal first on a flight, etc)?

Bank your points with one airline alliance. I keep Exec Platinum status with American which lets me use the 1st class BA lounge at Heathrow.

(EDITOR’s NOTE: go to waitlist.safara.travel and sign up for our waitlist – then you can access the best loyalty for boutique hotels, too!).

Travel can be about the little luxuries…like a super amazing cup of coffee. Where was the best one you’ve had?

Sightglass Coffee in San Francisco.

What is your favorite travel book – for at home, or abroad- and why?

Everything that Slim Aarons has done. He inspires a lot of my work.

What’s your favorite room service experience ever?

I once had my sunglasses removed from my backpack in my bedroom at the Badrutt’s Palace Hotel in St Moritz Switzerland and brought down to the outdoor bar where I was eating steak tartare and it had become too sunny. Never before had a hotel offered me that level of service.

If you could quit your job and follow the “Mamma Mia” dream (ie open a small hotel in a foreign land or on a remote island), where would you do it?

Italy, Porto Ercole to be specific. 

Beach or City or Mountain? 

Mountain – I’m the global ambassador to St Moritz so I think I have to say this?

Alone or with someone else?

Alone

In flight wifi- good idea: yes or no?

No

Lost luggage, or lost phone?

Luggage

Airplane food- Y/N?

Sure

Fantasy mini bar/fridge item?

Sparkling Water

Early check-in/ late check-out?

Both

Favourite subscription service you’ll never delete? (ex: netflix/spotify)

All of it

In flight cocktail – Y/N? What kind?

Bloody Mary

Favourite travel app? 

Priority Pass lounge app 

Window or Aisle?

Window

Negar Mohammadi, Director of Brand Marketing at Vogue

As the Head of Editorial Partnerships and Brand Marketing at Vogue, Negar oversees all aspects of the magazine’s promotion – from the September Issue to collaborations with rad brands like Nike and Comme de Garcons.  She has lived in downtown Manhattan for the past 14 years, and is grateful for her Chicago roots and Persian values in keeping her grounded and kind. Surfing, family, and friends are her top three favorite things, and she balances her busy career with regular (& sometimes rogue!) surf trips with her best friends.

Follow Negar Mohammadi on Instagram @negarmoh

Name 3 favorite hotels off the top of your head!

The Edition Hotel in Miami, Hotel Costes in Paris, and Le Sireneuse in Positano.

Where would you go to digital detox, or just generally to get off the grid?

Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. Everything you need is there (surf, delicious food) and the best friends you’ll make are in the water where there is no wi-fi.

What 3 songs are on your OOO playlist?

Gypsy by Fleet Wood Mac, Night Moves by Bob Segar, Wild Thoughts by Rihanna and DJ Khalid.

What is your most used travel emoji?    

Surfing girl emoji. 

What do you always bring with you in your carry-on?

Silk eye mask by Slip. Doesn’t matter where you’re staying, once you shut your eyes – you feel like you’re sleeping in luxury.

If you could swap suitcases with anyone in the world at baggage claim, who would you swap with?

Kim Kardashian — Wait, actually Kourtney. I’m closer to her size.

Have you or would you travel alone?

In a world where you’re always on someone else’s schedule, nothing is more luxurious than having the freedom to do what you want, when you want.

If you’re going to a new place, and your friends have not been there, what do you consult for advice?

Instagram!

What’s your favorite room service experience ever?    

French fries at the Hotel Martinez in Cannes — they arrive in the most elegant silver bucket. The presentation pretty much negates all calories.

Best Travel advise you’ve ever received, and from whom?

From Maya (Co-Founder of Safara!) – she encouraged me to travel alone with an open mind and agenda, letting the universe surprise me with its magic.

Anxiety and burnout are big topics these days. How do you combat them, and how do you use travel to do so?    

I make sure to have a trip planned every 6 weeks (hoping to make it once a month). The excitement and anticipation are enough to light me up and help push me through anything. The moment I get on a flight or arrive somewhere new, I feel an immediate wave of happiness that washes away any anxiety or feelings of burnout.

Do you have any tips or tricks for beating the dreaded jet lag?    

Instead of napping when I land, I move my body any way I can – be it a run, or even a set of jumping jacks and other 80s aerobics moves in whatever space I have. Otherwise, I drink tons of water and do anything it takes to get on the local schedule.

Travel can be about the little luxuries…like a super amazing cup of coffee. Where was the best one you’ve had?    

Double espresso from Cala di Volpe in Sardinia. Served with a perfect square of gianduja chocolate.

What’s your go-to outfit for getting through security quickly, and still looking good?    

Black skinny L’Agence jeans, black James Perse v-neck, Common Projects pink sneakers with a big black cashmere sweater – as I’m always freezing on flights. The L’agence jeans have so much stretch in them, they feel like yoga pants.

Rank the following, from most to least important to you, re: what you seek in a hotel experience: unique, comfortable, architecturally intriguing, close to things, dope minibar, has a pool, doesn’t break the bank, locals hang out there.

1. close to things since I love being able to explore on foot, 2. comfortable, 3. unique, 4. locals hang there, 5. architecturally intriguing, 6. pool, 7. minibar, 8. doesn’t break the bank

Beach or City or Mountain?

Beach!

Airplane food- Y/N?

Hard NO. I always bring snacks

Early check-in/ late check-out?

Late check-out – insurance for whatever the night before has brought you!

Emma Svensson, Fashion Photographer and Mountain Climber

Emma Svensson started out as a photographer in 2002 by shooting music artists and concerts, and has since then grown to become one of the most hired fashion photographers in Sweden. Emma now runs a namesake studio, where she employs 12 other photographers to help take on all the projects that come her way.

Until a year ago, Emma knew nothing about rock climbing, but after watching a life-changing film (see below!), she decided to break the world record and climb the highest mountain in every European country within a year- that’s 49 peaks total! Ever the over-achiever, she actually ended up climbing 61 mountains in a year instead, but who’s counting…

We were utterly impressed by Emma’s bravery and travel stories, and wanted to share more on her unique (and sometimes death-defying) experiences- read on, below!

Follow Emma Svensson on Instagram @emmasvenssonphoto

Have you or would you travel alone?

Yes, I love to travel alone! I can do whatever I feel like, and never have to compromise. I also get to know so many more people than I ever would if I was with a friend all the time; I feel like traveling alone develops you as an individual. It also makes you more spontaneous- I’m never scared when I travel by myself, for whatever reason. I also feel very welcomed when I’m traveling alone, wherever I go.

What inspired you to start mountain climbing?

I was on a plane to New Zealand, and decided to randomly watch the movie “Everest.” After it was over, I had this life-changing feeling in my body. I have only felt like that one other time in my life: when I photographed my first concert. And that was why I became a photographer. I just knew I had to do this! The primal instinct was strong, and impossible to ignore.

What mountain had the largest impact on you, and why?

Monte Rosa Dufourspitze – the highest one in Switzerland. When I climbed it, I did it with a friend that had not done alpine climbing before, and it was the first time I was “the guide.” To be able to feel like I could lead a climb of that caliber only a year after I started rock climbing was amazing. Also, it was the hardest mountain in the 49 peaks!

What is the most unique hotel amenity you’ve ever encountered?

Everything at the Tree Hotel in Northern Sweden. It’s such a cool place! I love the mirror cube, it’s like art.

What beauty items can you not travel without?

I climb mountains. So I don’t really care about beauty. But I would never go up there without sunscreen. That is the only thing I take on the mountains except for toothpaste and deodorant. I must be the most careless person working in fashion in Sweden when it comes to beauty 😉

What hotel room design element can you not live without?

Power outlet next to the bed. I always work from bed at hotels. I don’t know why, but I’ve found that most desks that I’ve encountered are not really made for working (either the chair is too low/high, or it’s just not comfortable). I want to be able to charge both my laptop and phone next to the bed- I think this is a modern necessity!

Where would you go to digital detox / get off the grid?

I go to the mountains or to National Parks. I love to travel to remote places where there is no wifi connection. Patagonia, the Highlands of Iceland, New Zealand – they all fit the bill. Next on my list is Nepal, where I will go up a mountain on a one-month long expedition. Climbing mountains are like meditation.

What 3 songs are on your OOO playlist?

Elastic heart – Sia

I dare you – The XX

Life Round Here – James Blake

What do you always bring with you in your carry-on?

My phone, camera, and laptop. I always have work to do, and I don’t trust to check those things in, just in case. When I remember to, I bring Swedish candy as well. I love sweets, but think we have the best kinds in Sweden. Unfortunately, I always eat everything on the plane…so they don’t last long!

Who is your dream “co-pilot” (or ‘travel partner’- dead or alive), and why?

I would love to go on a climbing road trip with Alex Honnold (a pro climber, and the only person to have free-soloed El Capitan in Yosemite National Park!). That would be so inspiring.

Do you have any tips or tricks for beating the dreaded jet lag?

I notice that the more you travel, the better it gets somehow. I just sleep everywhere, all the time. On the flight, in the taxi… trying to get into the new time zone as soon as possible.

Beach or City or Mountain? 

This one is obvious!: Mountain

Early check-in/ late check-out?

Late check out!!

Window or Aisle?

Window

Maria Maleh, Art Director and Blogger

Maria is one those talented creatives that do lots of things (otherwise known as a “multi-hyphenate”), but most of the time she is a professional photographer, blogger, and Art Director. Also known as @MariaPizzeria, she has lived in London since 2011, but was born and raised in Sweden. She loves cooking (she even has a separate Instagram account for food & recipe ‘grams), as well as showcasing her predilections for skincare & beauty. She also loves chilling with cats.

Maria is the Co-Founder of Palmetto Studios, an art direction and graphic design studio that she runs together with her favorite person, Justin Moore.

One of her largest sources of inspiration is traveling – read on to learn more specifics re: her travel tips and tricks…

Follow Maria Maleh on Instagram @MariaPizzeria

Being an avid social media user, how much are you on your phone while traveling?

Unfortunately a lot. I use it to navigate, take photos, and keep up with my emails and social channels.

What does your activity on Instagram look like while traveling?

I usually take a lot of pictures, but I don’t feel that I have to post them… I love when I can take time off from social media while traveling. You can always post later!

Do you plan your outfits before traveling?

I don’t plan whole outfits in detail, but I always plan what shoes to bring. That’s the most important for me. After that, my skincare products get the most attention. It’s very important to me that I bring all the products I need with me…unfortunately this can make carry-on tricky at times!

What beauty items can you not travel without?

I can’t travel without my The Ordinary – Squalene oil, Glossier – Invisible shield, Glossier – Stretch concealer and Laneige – Lip sleeping mask, they’re lifesavers.

What hotel room design element can you not live without?

It has to have an iron!

What 3 songs are on your OOO playlist?

The sweetest taboo – Sade

Hold tight – Change

Candy – Cameo

What do you always bring with you in your carry-on?

My cameras, beauty products, and a power bank.

If you could swap suitcases with anyone in the world at baggage claim, who would you swap with?

It would be with Reese Blutstein, the influencer and stylist from @double3xposure 

Best Travel advise you’ve ever received, and from whom?

Be prepared. Make lists, do your research and look things up, and pack in advance. There is nothing worse than leaving for a trip and feeling stressed. Not sure who this came from, but as a Virgo it makes sense that it’s my advice to myself.

If you could quit your job and follow the “Mamma Mia” dream (ie open a small hotel in a foreign land or on a remote island), where would you do it?

THAILAND! <3

What do you ultimately get out of traveling?

Relaxation, good food, and gathering as much inspiration as I can to bring with me home. A good tan is always a plus!

Beach or City or Mountain?

BEACH

Lost luggage, or lost phone?

Lost luggage

Airplane food?

NOOOOOO

Fantasy minibar/fridge item?

Ice cream!

Sarah Murrell, Founder of BY SARAH LONDON

Our latest /Insider, Sarah Murrell, founded the all-natural and organic, plant-based skincare brand BY SARAH LONDON with her sister, Lauren. Sarah passionately believes in empowering our wellness choices (BY SARAH even details a full ingredient list on the front labels of their vegan and cruelty-free products!). Sarah’s inspiration and motivation to help us all make natural, organic skin care choices began with her sister, Lauren’s recovery from leukemia in 2012 (when she couldn’t find any products that had clear and natural ingredients, so she started mixing her own!). Prior to launching her own company, Sarah spent 10 years in branding and communications for the world’s leading beauty brands- so she knows her stuff…read on for her travel tips and tricks.

Follow Sarah Murrell on Instagram @bysarahlondon

What beauty items can you not travel without?

Our organic skincare minis! For long-haul flights, I apply 2-3 drops of our Organic Facial Oil so that my skin remains hydrated and deeply-nourished, and top up just before landing for healthy, radiant skin on arrival.

What hotel room design element can you not live without?

I love a roll top bath! – does that count? There’s an amazing one at Gleneagles– an incredible luxury hotel in Scotland that made me feel fully rested and rejuvenated after celebrating a special birthday.

Where would you go to digital detox or just generally to get off the grid?

I recently took a trip to Zermatt, Switzerland and cannot recommend it enough for the nature, breathtaking scenery and sense of calm. We stayed at the Hotel Christiania, which is family-run and has the most charming & welcoming atmosphere, and an equally as spectacular setting- nestled at the foot of the Swiss Alps, with views of the Matterhorn.

What do you always bring with you in your carry-on?

I’m never without our Organic Lip Balm (a wonderful multi-tasker), S’well water bottle and podcast series (currently listening to How I Built This).

Have you or would you travel alone?

Yes! Traveling alone is an amazing sense of achievement and adventure!

If you’re going to a new place, and your friends have not been there, what do you consult for advice?

I look for the latest plant-based restaurants and yoga studios to give me the lay of the land. In NYC, I love by CHLOE New York (for plant-based “fast food,” any time) and the restaurant The Butcher’s Daughter – but I always recommend getting there early, as the queue is often out the door!

Do you have any tips or tricks for beating the dreaded jet lag?

Water, water, water!

Travel can be about the little luxuries…like a super amazing cup of coffee. Where was the best one you’ve had?

I’m a lover of tea, and the most aromatic brew was in Copenhagen at Royal Smushi Cafe – scent, flavour and even the tea cup itself were divine!

Beach or City or Mountain?

Beach in the winter / (Swiss) Mountains in the summer!

In flight wifi- good idea: yes or no?

No!

Early check-in/ late check-out?

Late check-out

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