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Chic Traveler:  Merritt Loughran

Occupation:  Founder and President, mml PR

Hometown:  Santa Monica, California and soon to be bi-coastal with plans to open a second mml location in NYC!

Dream destination?

Okavango Delta in South Africa and then a jump over to the island of Mauritius.  Also, Tulum, Mexico.  I am planning that trip now as a quick getaway for my husband and I!

What’s always inside your carry on? 

Arcona Triad Pads, TONS of magazines, Mike and Ike’s or Swedish Red Fish and my iPhone and laptop.

What’s on your plane play list?

What playlist?  I am answering emails and catching up on BRAVO TV reruns on Virgin Airlines.

Your guilty pleasure while traveling?

BRAVO TV and sleeping on the plane – I am that girl!

The Stephanie Johnson bag / bags that always make the trip?

My ML Traveler and Jumbo Zip Cosmetic.  If I am going to a beach destination, I love the small Side Handle Tube that easily fits sunscreen, lip balm, my iPhone with LK for Cellairis case and CASH!  Just in case we don’t have time to run back to our hotel before grabbing a sunset cocktail.

Any tips or must-pack items for making your hotel feel more like home?

A small silver frame with a seaside picture of my two children in it and 4 small conch seashells plucked from the beach in Naples, FLA.  I keep them on my bedside table.  They remind me of home.  Also, a R. Nichols candle – SURF scent.  He is a local LA craftsman and a genius candle maker.

Is there a particular destination that inspires your creativity?

Harbour Island in the Bahamas and walking for miles on any beach in Malibu.  And any place where the only mode of transportation is a golf cart.

What’s the most stylish city/locale you’ve visited?

Istanbul, Turkey.

Anywhere in particular where the fashion/beauty/women’s personal style really blew you away?

I was surprised at how chic the ladies were in Mumbai, India.  The way the Indian women use makeup and color to define their own personal style.  The jewels and the beautiful prints were inspiring!

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Any travel misadventures you’d like to share?

Note to self, hard to talk your way into the Bahamas if you forgot your passport.  But it CAN be done!

If you were introducing a world traveling friend to SJ for the first time, what’s the first piece you’d recommend they buy?

The ML Traveler.  I am biased [Stephanie’s note:  the ML is Merritt’s namesake!].  It is the perfect carry all for a weekend away or a week in the West Indies.

Next on your Stephanie Johnson wish list?

The Tuscon Sky Mary Alice Tote

What’s your favorite SJ piece to give as a gift?

SO hard to choose!  I love the Jumbo Zip Case – especially in St. Lucia.

Is there a favorite possession you’ve acquired during your travels?  What is it?

I have a Tahitian print from our honeymoon in Bora Bora that I adore.  And I collect baskets and bowls filled with seashells from AROUND the world.  On my last trip to Naples, FLA I mistakenly took a crab home with me – still in its shell.  Also I adore my African leather sandals and woven baskets from Kenya that I picked up after climbing Kilimanjaro.  They have lasted over 25 years and I have never had to mend them.

Favorite travel ritual or souvenir?  

I always visit a local museum and pick up a coffee table book of the museum’s permanent collection.  I also pick up a snow globe for my daughter and ask friends and family to pick them up as well.  My daughter’s collection has grown to include over 40 snow globes from around the world and she is only 9!

I also try and walk the local town, beach or city streets and capture photos of anything that inspires me.

Your personal travel style: (Do you like a luxury resort? A private hideaway?  Do you prefer to lay on the beach?  Explore the countryside?)

I am a chameleon – I like to lay on the beach for 2 or 3 days – then get out and explore.  And I do admit – I love a luxury resort or a private home.  Watercolor and The Mango on Harbour Island in the Bahamas are two of my favorite private homes to rent.

The one thing that you cannot leave home without?

My American Express Platinum Card.  It takes me everywhere with some amazing perks.

Your happy place / Favorite travel destination? 

Harbor Springs, Michigan and my Dad’s hunting camp called Valhalla in the middle of the woods in Michigan.

Do you have a favorite menu item you indulge in when you’re on the road? 

Local beers and fresh seafood.

How do you pack for a trip?

I am not a list maker – but I do plan my outfits.  I tend to travel with over 10 pairs of flip flops – I have an inordinate amount of them.  And I wear a comfy pair of Chanel black flats on the plane for running through airports.

Favorite pre-travel or travel-friendly beauty routine?

I try to NOT wear makeup on the plane and heavily moisturize with Arcona Magic White Ice and I love bringing Arcona’s Lavender Hydrasol mist to keep my skin moist while flying.  Also, I love NYX Butter Gloss to keep my lips moist, with a hint of color.

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First drink in the air:  H2O, champagne or OJ?

Water/for AM flights.  Water then a cold beer for evening flights.

Go-to luggage brand?

Tumi and an L.L. Bean tote.

Checked bag or carry-on?

Depends on how many days I am gone.  If less than two days – carry on.  If more – I am checking bags.

Favorite airport?  Why?

I love Detroit Metro Airport because I can grab a Coney Island 24/7.  I also love the Eleuthera Airport in the Bahamas and the West Branch Airport in Northern Michigan because both are so small and I always run into friends coming and going.  Also, Jackson Hole airport for the food: great burgers and fries.

On your reading list?

I just read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand – admittedly late to the game.  LOVED IT!  And I am currently obsessed with anything written by or about Diana Vreeland.

Plane food or bring your own?

Whole Foods – bring your own.  Or the cheese platter on Virgin is amazing – but I miss the old flat Italian crackers.  Please bring those back, Virgin America.

Any tips for breezing through airport security?

TSA Pre Expedited Screening for frequent fliers – don’t wear a belt or a lot of costume jewelry.

Window or aisle?

Aisle.

Your flight’s delayed:  best way to kill time at the airport?

Mani/pedi and a massage.  I always travel with my fave Essie polishes so I am ready for a mani/pedi at any time.

How often do you fly?

Twice a month.

Go-to flying ‘uniform?’

J Brand Jeans or black Vince pants, Chanel flats, James Perse tank top and a comfy Vince or C. Wonder sweater.  And my new Sole Society Cassidy Weekend Bag.

Any tips that make frequent travel more efficient?

Keep it simple – stay in a place where you know the neighborhood.  And always tip the bartenders in the VIP lounges around the world.

Business or economy?

Depends on who is paying.  Private is always best – but hard to come by these days!

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