Distinguished Travel Hacker

The One Retro Accessory This Former Model Packs on Every Trip

Brooklyn Decker, on the simple pleasures of drinking on vacation and why she always packs coconut oil.

Brooklyn Decker

Photographer: Kristen Kilpatrick Photography

At Bloomberg Pursuits, we love to travel. And we always want to make sure we’re doing it right. So we’re talking to globetrotters 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.

Thirty-year-old entrepreneur and former model Brooklyn Decker shot to fame as a Sports Illustrated cover girl and quickly parlayed her modeling fame into a career as an actress. She’s now co-starring on Netflix hit Grace and Frankie, with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. She also co-founded the personal wardrobe organizer Finery

Decker travels around 150,000 miles per year, usually on Delta Air Lines Inc., which offers the best service between her job in Los Angeles and her home in Austin, where she lives with her husband, former tennis player Andy Roddick, and their two children. 

The simple shortcut to always looking flawless after a long flight.

A shower cap from Shhhowercap.
Source: Shhhowercap

Most women who are being honest with you will tell you that when they’re traveling, they try to wash their hair as little as they can. It’s just a hassle to have to actually dry your hair—you have a curling iron, a brush.  No one wants to be dealing with that. So I pack a Shhhowercap, which is not to be confused with a shower cap. I first discovered them when the founder shared a co-working space with us. They make these reusable nylon and really—dare I say—beautiful shower caps. They look sort of turban-esque. I always pack them so I can freshen up post-plane rides without having to wash my hair. 

She champions one retro fashion trend above all for travelers. 

My [Grace and Frankie] co-star, June-Diane Raphael, has two children, and she became a mom before I did. For my wrap gift last year, when I was pregnant with my second child, she gave me a fanny pack. She said: “Trust me, you’re going to need your hands when you’re traveling—holding a car seat and a toddler.” She gave me this beautiful, leather fanny bag with my initials on it, from Clare V. And I swear, it’s a game-changer when you’re traveling, especially with kids, because it’s one less thing to carry in your hand. Plus, it lets you sneak past the “one carry-on, plus one personal item” rule. This way I can have my carry-on, a diaper bag for the kids, and my cool, little fanny pack filled with the essentials: my ID, my wallet, and my phone. It’s like cheating the system in an elegant way. 

The product that can replace almost everything in your dopp kit. 

There is one product you can pack that works for everything, and helps with that three-in-one TSA rule: virgin coconut oil. It’s really good for removing your makeup at the end of the day. And it’s really good for lotion, too. Believe it or not, I got that advice on a backpacking trip when I was in Alaska; it was very dry. And you can actually use it to brush your teeth.

One thing to inspect upon arrival at any hotel. 

The lobby of the Palihouse West Hollywood in Los Angeles.
Source: Palihouse West Hollywood

I judge a hotel by the drawers in the bathroom. The best ones have trays, as it makes a massive difference. I remember the Palihouse in West Hollywood had that. Otherwise, it’s like a wad of stuff, all touching one another, that shouldn’t: your razor, your brush, and toothpaste.

The best destinations can be right under your nose. 

Canyon Kitchen
Source: Lonesome Valley

There’s this little place called Cashiers in North Carolina, an hour west of Asheville. It’s this really special place that very few people know about. A James Beard-nominated chef, Adam Hayes, runs a restaurant called Canyon Kitchen. He’s a really talented guy who wanted to live in the woods and cook really good food. Most of the restaurants have a garden in the back, where they’re growing produce. We found it because there’s a really good golf course called Wade Hampton there, and my husband’s a golfer. I camp, go canoeing, and trail-run. It has the best of everything. 

Why you should really drink in the local culture ...

Moonshine distilled to commemorate the solar eclipse sits on display at Casey Jones Distillery in Hopkinsville, Ky. 
Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images North America

My guilty pleasure when I travel is that I drink alcohol almost every day. I’m a big fan of trying local cocktails, because I think it really helps define a place. Some people will go and try the local cuisine, but I’m going to try the booze, lunch and dinner. In Haiti, I drank Barbancourt Rum mixed with Toro, which is almost like jet fuel meets Kool Aid. It’s excellent. And in Appalachia, whether North Carolina, Tennessee, or Kentucky, you have to try moonshine. It’s like a very strong, pungent vodka. Ask the locals where to try it, because I guarantee you’ll want it from somebody who actually makes it in their house.

… and its breakfasts. 

I like to order whatever the local breakfast is. In the U.K., obviously it’s a beans-and-eggs situation, and the eggs feel like they’re scrambled in a special machine, like a milk frother. The most unusual local breakfast I had was in Tokyo, because it was all sushi. In America, outside of eggs and potatoes, breakfast tends to be so sweet: yogurt, pancakes, oatmeal. In Tokyo, it’s completely savory, incredibly light and fish-based. You can tell a lot about a place from its breakfast.

Always be ready for those times when you just gotta go. 

When you get to a place, buy a little tiny thing of lighter fluid, matches, and toilet paper. When I was backpacking in Alaska, we were not allowed to use the restroom outdoors because it could attract grizzly bears. So you dig a hole, go to the restroom there, then pour lighter fluid on your toilet paper, strike a match, and bury it. It’s the most economical and respectful way, and it doesn’t attract any wild animals. And it’s a gross, funny story to say that you put your shit on fire. 

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