Fashion Designer Jojo Ross Shares Her Travel Tips

Fashion designer Jojo Ross shares her luggage packing style, plus tips from her recent trip to Vietnam

(From left) grilled pork and fried spring roll on vermicelli noodle and herbs; Saigon, Ho Chi Minh. Photos / Jojo Ross

My partner Stu and I spent a month in Vietnam over the Christmas period. We fell in love with the country when first visiting five years ago and wanted to explore it further. Vietnam is an intricate blend of chaos, beauty and joy. The food is some of the best I’ve eaten, the people are so lovely and with 50 cent beers and $2 dinners, you can really treat yourself. For this trip we wanted to go slow and get to know the culture, so we chose to visit four places, spending a week in each: Saigon, Hue, Quy Nhon and Phu Quoc. It was the best decision for a relaxing and rewarding holiday at the end of a massive year.

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PLAN AHEAD
In the past, we haven’t pre-booked all of our accommodation, which I found ends up taking a fair amount of precious holiday time and becomes a bit of a burden. It’s also a lot more expensive. Now we book all of our flights, transport and accommodation before we leave. Having spent that money prior is also handy, so what you have remaining is your spending money, with no surprises. For longer trips, we print off a calendar of the weeks or months we’re away and start filling in the gaps — it makes booking so easy and ensures you don’t overlap nights. Always check what sort of weather you can expect in the places you’re going — so many people go to Northern Vietnam during New Zealand’s summer break without realising it can be freezing cold.

The blue waters of On Phu Quoc. Photo / Jojo Ross

PACKING PHILOSOPHY
I’m definitely a bit obsessive when it comes to packing (and probably life) so I knew exactly what I was bringing for some time before we left. I don’t necessarily pre-plan outfits, but I make sure each individual garment can be worn with multiple others. Given that I only really wear my own brand makes that easy. My favourite pieces that I wore on my trip are those that I live in here from my latest summer 19 range ‘Days Long Past’. I love my oversized white Happy Days hoodie and Holiday pants for the plane — they’re both so cosy and comfortable to wear and the crease-free fabric of the pants is perfect for travel.

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My Souvenir wrap-skirt is made from the same fabric, so again ideal for the suitcase — lightweight wrap skirts are always a go-to of mine in hot temperatures, waistbands are so sticky! My all-time-favourite holiday piece is my Quick Dip rib dress ($133), it’s super-light and stretchy, making it ideal for the beach. Adding jewellery and tying messy beach hair into a bun turns it into a beautiful evening dress. Other essentials are Teva’s ($90 from The Iconic) and a Rains jacket ($165 from Area 51).

When hopping between hotels I always have my bag split into folded piles — two that I take out and put in shelves, one with things that need to be hung and one I leave in my bag with things I don’t often wear (plane clothes, rain jacket, etc). I keep all my swimwear and underwear in a fabric bag to keep it contained.

)Left) Jojo Ross in Ong Lang on Phu Quoc Island. Photos / Supplied

OTHER HELPFUL TIPS
• Keep it light. Even if you have the space, don’t over pack, it makes packing up again hard, it’s really heavy to carry around and, of course, you barely wear any of what you take.
• Size matters. Pack minis. I buy small containers to put my shampoo in. It makes such a difference to the weight of your toiletries.
• Make it snappy. Snap-lock bags. I always pack things in them and bring spare ones. You always need them for something wet, to keep something from getting wet, or to keep dirty things in. And you can wash them and pack them away for your next trip. I put all my liquids in them too.

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BEAUTY PRODUCTS
I really love Theseeke products and have several I always use. Nurture elixir ($62) is incredible, you can use it as literally anything from a face and body moisturiser to a hair oil, or on dry lips. I also love their Rose Otto hydration mist — it’s amazing on hot city days and also really nice to use as a toner. I always bring natural sunscreen and lip balm.

Imperial City in Hue. Photo / Jojo Ross

VIETNAM TIPS
• Eat a lot. Vietnam is a culinary wonderland.
• Instead of searching for the best restaurants at each destination, search the best local dishes. So many areas have food that can only be found there and many places to eat only serve one dish.
• Eat streetside. The best meals we ate were on little plastic stools on the sidewalk. My favourites: bun cha: grilled pork and fried spring roll on vermicelli noodle and herbs. Com hen: baby clams on rice and clam broth. Banh khoai: crispy pancakes with pork, prawn and dipping sauce. And, of course, pho.
• It takes a while but travel by train, it’s such a beautiful place and it’s a great way to see the countryside.
• Take time to learn about the history before you go. And learn how to say hello and thank you.

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