This week SJ’s Style Compass is launching the first of a new series called Travel Chic.  For our inaugural post I thought I’d share some of my personal travel tips, loves, and must-have items that help me travel well.  With Travel Chic, I’ll be profiling tastemakers, arbiters of style and famous globetrotters alike and asking them to offer insight into their unique travel style (as well as a peek inside their designer suitcases!).  I hope you enjoy, and as always, travel chic!

Chic traveler:  Stephanie Johnson

Occupation:  Designer and Founder of Stephanie Johnson Cosmetic Bags

Hometown:  Recent New York City transplant (by way of Venice Beach)

How do you pack for a trip?  I’m a list maker but usually for the ‘accessories’ of travel like passport, camera, hat, bathing suit, my favorite Theodora & Callum scarf, etc.  I lay outfits on my bed and place them in the suitcase by order of importance.  If the case is full, anything left lying on the bed stays behind.

Checked bag or carry-on?  I’m going to carry-on 90% of the time unless I’m packing for a ski trip or two weeks abroad.  I like having the flexibility and I’m not a fan of waiting 30 minutes for my bag at baggage claim.

What’s always inside your carry-on?  These days I’m never without my iPad and SJ iPad Case.  It’s sort of genius to tuck my iPhone, power cord, pen, and a credit card into the case and slip it into the seat back pocket.  That way everything is handy if I need to fill out an immigration form, or pay for a snack.

Aisle or window?  After decades of aisle flying I am now all about the window.  I like being tucked inside away from the commotion of the aisle, and it’s not bad having control of the window shade either.

What’s on your plane playlist?  Absolutely nothing!  I’m more likely to tuck into a book or a stack of magazines.

What’s the Stephanie Johnson bag (or bags) that always make the trip?  If it’s a longer trip (requiring check-in), I wouldn’t be caught without my Jenny Train Case.  Lunchbox style, it fits all my toiletries and make up and has a clear pocket where I put cotton balls, q-tips, band aids and the like.  I’m currently using a Jenny from the Riviera Maya collection.

Any tips for making your hotel feel more like home?  As soon as I get to my destination I hang dresses and stack clothes on another bed or desk.  I like to see my stuff and I rarely use drawers when I travel.  I set up my SJ bags in the bathroom and place my iPad and any books next to my bedside.

Favorite travel ritual or souvenir?  If I happen upon a Christmas ornament that is locally made I will buy it.  I also like locally crafted musical instruments that are indigenous to a culture.

What’s your dream destination?  African Safari, hands down.  What could be more beautiful or inspiring?

What’s your favorite SJ piece to give as gift?  I’ve been giving a trio of SJ pouches wrapped in a bow.  These are perfect for stowing your make-up, power cords, receipts, international currency, and the large pouch doubles as a clutch.

On your reading list?  I’m between books and desperate for something new!  I finished the Steve Jobs bio and am considering The Hunger Games trilogy.  Please comment with your suggestions for a summer reading list!

Next destination?  I’m keeping my summer pretty local and don’t have anything too exotic on the books.  I’m heading to Fisher’s Island for a quiet weekend with friends, which sounds pretty perfect to me.  July will bring a Palm Beach wedding celebration and two weeks of biking and hiking in the Rockies.