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Globetrotting lighting designer Eva Menz shares travel tips gleaned from a lifetime of adventuring

Mark Ellwood
Mark Ellwood • 7 min read
Globetrotting lighting designer Eva Menz shares travel tips gleaned from a lifetime of adventuring
A hot ginger and whiskey is all you need.
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Eva Menz is a high-end lighting designer, who set up her namesake studio 17 years ago, focusing on residential-scale sculptural works. She started her own luxury lighting brand in 2019, Atelier 001, with pieces hand-finished by master artisans, many of them close to her British headquarters. Her newest designs include the polished metal Solstice lamps and she’ll soon introduce pendants in her glass-blown Liquid Collection this fall.

“I live in London, so my most-used airline is British Airways. I have a million miles with them, and I’m quite a miles junkie,” Menz says, though she admits the BA business class cabin is in need of redesigning. “I volunteer to do it!” When asked how many miles she logs in a typical year, she demurs, saying: “I fly enough to start planting trees somewhere.”

Menz has always been a spontaneous traveller. “I was in Ibiza the other day, for four days, and I ended up staying three weeks. My team just laughs at me,” she says. She recommends that even the most avid planner try to relax and remain flexible when plotting Covid-era trips. “You need to mentally prepare yourself to stay somewhere longer than you plan, and not get stressed about it. There might be a momentary shutdown, or flights get cancelled.”

Here are her travel hacks.

This is the ultimate, all-purpose travel insurance.

I have Battleface travel insurance. I have international health insurance, but I also have this as extra insurance — it was originally created for going to places you’re not supposed to go, and it’s what journalists use. It can cover unreasonable imprisonment, kidnapping. I went to South Africa recently [during the pandemic], and I paid for it for two months; I think it was GBP300 [$544]. You can keep adding countries, too, so I added any country that I could possibly fly through on the way back from Africa in case I got stuck there: Qatar, all the United Arab Emirates, France, Netherlands.

Menz swears that this item is her ultimate travel icebreaker.

Tennis is my type of meditation, and it just makes me incredibly happy. It’s great physically, and you make connections to people that are outside your professional circle. It’s social, but it’s not partying. Nothing is as frustrating as not having your very own magic wand when invited to a gorgeous court with a seaside view or a casual pre-lunch game, so I started traveling with my racket, a Yonex E Zone and however inconvenient it is to schlepp around, you meet great people playing tennis.

See: Do you really need a hotel room? Travel tips from MB&F founder Max Büsser

It always makes for a great icebreaker and conversation in boring queues and airport lounges, too. I was recently in South Africa, and they told me I had to check the racket in, because it was a dangerous object. So I made a friend in the line, who only had one suitcase — he checked it in for me. It’s, like, a social connector.

The two-night rule on arrival is her hack for a happy landing on every trip, however bad the jetlag.

Don’t improvise upon arrival. No latenight Airbnb mystery hunts. Always book the first two nights at a nice hotel with a bar or terrace for your arrival days: you can vegetate, meet people, and land properly. You don’t know how stressful your flight’s going to be, so get somewhere booked that will pick you up with a car. It’s worth the extra money. I look for a 20- to 25-room hotel that has a bit of life — the Santa Teresa Hotel in Rio, for instance. You can just arrive and not worry about anything for two days. Go to the bar and restaurant, and if you’re in a nice place, you meet nice people who give you all the tips you need to know. I might even book two hotels and decide the day before which one to cancel, if I am feeling fancy or not.

Menz promises her particular in-flight ritual will prevent your falling sick on landing.

To prevent falling sick, drink whiskey with hot gimger and lemon

I used to always get sick when I went on long-haul flights — like, I once flew to New York for Halloween, and I arrived sick. So I started my own flight thing. I’m not a doctor but it works for me. I do the celebrity thing — wearing sunglasses, caps, headphones, just drowning out the sensory overload. And I take ginger with me, chopped up in a plastic bag; even if you’re flying coach, you can just ask for hot water or bring it in a Thermos and ask for it to be topped up the whole flight. Ginger is a natural antibiotic and will kill germs in your throat. I personally drink whiskey — no wine or prosecco — and if you put the hot ginger with it, and some lemon, you have a hot toddy.

Don’t assume a scarf is just a great accessory — Menz packs three, for different reasons.

I travel with at least three scarves. A little one on my bag that just looks cute — and if I forget my mask, then it can become one or I use it as a headscarf. I have a gigantic scarf that’s like a security blanket — it makes you a bit cozier, it keeps you warm and it can be like your own little tent to live in for the duration of the flight. Then I also have one that is super elegant, and much longer; you can jazz up any outfit with that. I have a few vintage Liberty ones, some Missoni, an Alexander McQueen, and a Gucci one. Obviously, I’m very, very sensitive to lighting in places, and a lot of the time it’s too bright because there are no dimmers. So you can also throw the scarves over the lampshade, with caution of course, and if you’re a bit stressed from a long flight, it just chills everything out a bit.

Can’t get tickets to a concert? Get close enough and see what happens.

Even if you can’t get tickets to a concert, just go. There is always someone that has a ticket

Even if you can’t get tickets to a festival or a concert, just go. There is always someone that has a ticket, or just go to the vicinity of whatever place, and things will happen to you. I was in Trancoso, Brazil, where there is a classical music festival once a year; we couldn’t get tickets so we went to the local bar, where there were about 20 people. Six people showed up next to us, and they had instruments with them. I made a joke to one guy about his carrying a Stradivarius — and it was actually one, because he was the concertmeister from the Munich Philharmonic. I’m from Munich, and my grandmother was a ticket agent at the Opera House, so it was single-handedly one of the craziest moments of my life. His bodyguard came along and switched the violin — he wasn’t supposed to play the Stradivarius there — and we spent till six in the morning drinking and putting in requests for our favorite tunes. — Bloomberg

Photos: Bloomberg

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