global adventures of a value-conscious, style-minded traveller

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Leading the Pack: Geri Coady

Geri Coady

Geri Coady is a freelance illustrator and designer based in Nottingham, England, having works with clients like Scholastic, Withings, and A List Apart. She’s also an expert on colour accessibility who has previously written a pocket guide on the topic with a new book in the works. We recently caught up with Geri after a whirlwind trip to Japan to film an episode of Who Wants to Come to Japan 世界ニッポン行きたい人応援団 and got the low down on her travel style.

Roll, fold, scrunch or stuff? What’s your packing method?

I’ve experimented so much with this and still don’t have a straight answer! These days it’s a combination of both rolling and folding depending on the fabric—if it’s extra delicate and can’t be ironed easily, I’ll roll it lengthwise and then roll again into a cinnamon-roll shape. That usually works like a charm.

Carryon or checked bag?

The first time I went to the UK alone, I brought two full suitcases with me—suitcases full of outfits, not space for souvenirs. Needless to say that I learned my lesson trying to navigate the city alone with so much in tow, and ever since then I’ve been trying to pare down my travel gear as much as possible. The pinnacle of my packing success came a couple of years ago, when I travelled for ten days in Germany, Switzerland, and Italy with nothing but a small backpack—even more impressive if you know that I brought my laptop, charging cables, and a pair of dressy shoes to speak at a conference. Although it was a successful experiment, I don’t go quite as minimal anymore and sometimes I can’t avoid checking a bag, especially when I take all my running gear with me. Running is one of the best ways to see a city so it’s an absolutely essential part of my travels these days.

Do you travel for work or pleasure?

Definitely both. I always try to make sure that work trips have some spare time for pleasure as well.

What’s your favourite souvenir?

Picking just one item from my travels is like asking me to pick a favourite song, but in general, my favourite thing to bring back from any trip is coffee. I’m a huge coffee lover and I’ll always seek out special cafes in every city I visit. Bonus points if they roast their own beans. Bringing back a freshly roasted bag from each cafe I visit is a unique souvenir that I can enjoy when I’m back at my desk and want to relive those memories.

A lot of people think they need special travel clothing. How do you maintain your personal style when you travel?

I try to stick to two rules when planning my travel outfits — every item can be mixed and matched to create new outfits, and the majority of fabrics (particularly tops and blouses) can be washed in a sink and dried overnight. I used to think I needed a different outfit for every day of the week, but honestly, who cares? Hardly anybody is going to see you twice, and as long as the clothes can be hand-washed, it will save you so much luggage space. I’m more guilty of taking too many shoes…

With which city/town do you identify, aesthetically?

Tokyo, for sure. The tougher question is picking which neighbourhood. I wouldn’t normally consider myself a huge fan of vintage shopping, but in Japan even the used clothes are as good as new and the vintage scene is on a totally different level. I think I’d have to pick Shimokitazawa not just for its incredible independent shops, food, and coffee, but for people-watching, too.

Milan, New York, and Paris may be fashion capitals for big brands and fashion shows, but I’ve never seen a more fashion-conscious city where every single outfit is put together with such impeccable consideration, regardless of personal style. Kids, teens, grandmas and grandpas, you name it—they have to be some of the best dressed folks on the planet. The Japanese aesthetic, craftsmanship, and attention to detail makes me weak at the knees.

Do your travels ever inspire your work?

Absolutely. My first trip to Japan in 2016 inspired me to create my illustration project, 100 Days of Japan, where I illustrated various aspects of Japanese culture that I found interesting. I’m expanding the project into a new illustration-centric travel blog called Geri Draws Japan which will be launching very soon! Until then, you can check out my Instagram of the same name.

What’s in your carry-on?

  • Kiehl’s Lip Balm. I have a weird allergy to most types of beeswax so Kiehl’s is a lifesaver.
  • Flashcards for my Japanese study—no matter which country I’m flying to.
  • MUJI packable slippers for long, red-eye flights when I can’t deal with wearing shoes.
  • Laptop, for working on the road.
  • Noise-cancelling headphones—essential on longer flights.
  • Running gear, which takes up almost all the rest of my carry-on space!

Do you know an inspiring travelling woman who’s doing something interesting who should be featured here? Email [email protected] and let me know.

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