Month: December 2019

Happy Holidays from Team Safara!

We’re a truly international team, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Take Fede, our lead developer: he hails from rural Northern Italy 🇮🇹, lives in the vibrant city of Amsterdam 🇳🇱, and is spending this week in Goa, India 🇮🇳, enjoying Christmas dinner with a spicy twist. 

Goa, India

Staying closer to home, our brand director, Alice, hails from Ireland 🇮🇪, and she’ll be tucking into a traditional Christmas dinner in her hometown of Cork, if she survives the annual family Christmas day quiz that is.

Cork City, Ireland

Manel, our developer, will be in the slightly warmer climes of South Tunisia 🇹🇳, while Chloe, our French 🇫🇷marketing manager – usually based in Barcelona 🇪🇸–  will be retreating to family in the British countryside 🇬🇧.

There’s also Tom, our Argentinian 🇦🇷CTO, who’ll be doing Christmas in, of all places, Italy 🇮🇹, meaning we’ve come full circle on flag emojis! 

Cotswolds, UK

We almost forgot about our founders, Maya and Joey. Despite being Canadian🇨🇦 and having family all the way over in Japan 🇯🇵 Maya calls the UK 🇬🇧  home now, and will be putting her feet up in the Cotswolds for Christmas, and heading back to London for NYE. Finally, Joey, our resident American, will be in the Pacific Northwest 🇺🇸, celebrating Hannukah and Christmas like a boss.

Seattle, WA


From all of us here at Safara, we wish you Happy Holidays and a travel-filled 2020.

Our Holiday Gift Guide for Travel-Lovers

Here it is – our 2019 gift guide, tailored for the travel-lovers in your life. From our favorite in-flight loungewear to the face mask that will cure all that jetlag dullness, we have you covered. And you’ll get zero judgement from us if you just buy the lot for yourself…

Loewe Bamboo and Canvas Beach Mat

This grey weather is really making us want to head to the Southern Hemisphere, pronto. Loewe’s totally divine leather-trimmed bamboo beach mat will look even more chic with you on it.
 $525, Net-a-Porter

strangelove eau de parfum Discovery Set

strangelove founder Elizabeth Gaynes wants to ‘tell love stories through the art of perfume’, so earmark this discovery set for someone you love (which can include yourself, of course).

Rimowa Unique custom suitcase

It’s not cheap, but all Rimowa cases have a lifetime guarantee, and the best part is, it’s customizable! Design a case by selecting wheels, handles, and tags.
$970, Rimowa

Art Orcales Tarot Cards

If traditional tarot cards are a bit too woo woo, be guided by some of the world’s best artists with this kickass stocking-filler. Picasso told us to ‘Choose to have as many styles as you do lovers’, so we like them a lot.
£10.49, Amazon

White+Warren Cashmere Travel Pants

Anyone that does more than one transatlantic flight a year will thank you profusely for the existence of these pants. Enough said.
$298, White+Warren

Susanne Kaufmann Moisturising Face Mask

This mask will boost dehydrated post-flight skin in no time. It also comes highly recommended by one of our favorite travel Insiders and the co-founder of Collagerie, Serena Hood.
£47, Collagerie

Apple AirPods Pro

Rushing through airports calls for meditation apps and / or killer Spotify playlists. Give your favorite world traveler the gift of airport zen.
$249, Apple

Arket 48-hour tote

For those weekend breaks when a wheely case seems excessive. Arket have a 24-hour version too, FYI.
€79, Arket

Plant People Drops Holiday Set

If facing into in-laws and family spats is causing anxiety levels to rise faster than our current sea level (global warming alert y’all), Plant People have a trio of MCT oil tinctures: one for sleep, one for relief, and one for mind and body. And breathe.
$49.99, Plant People

ClassPass gift card

Tired of hearing your loved one complain about messing up their workout routine when they travel for work? Give them the the gift of yoga, spin, reformer pilates or Zumba with a ClassPass gift card. No more excuses.
From $50, ClassPass

Sezane Alban Jumper

This jumper balances comfort and glam perfectly. Ideal for throwing on when the airplane air-con gets too chilly, it also has a very chic deep back neckline and comes in four colors.
€95, Sézane

Slip silk eye mask

This luxury sleep mask will keep light out and, as it’s made from high-grade mulberry silk, it will be gentle on your eyes, skin, and hair. They have matching pillowcases too (if you’re feeling super generous).
$50, Net-a-porter

Stow Universal Leather Tech Case

The perfect travel companion for your less organized friend, you know the ones, they leave their passport at the Starbucks counter. Also, it’s bright orange, so hopefully they won’t leave this there too.
$440, Aha

Monocle Travel Guides

Now, our travel guides are the best on the web (check them out), but if your mom doesn’t go online much or you’re trying to drop a big hint on Christmas day, you may wish to go analog.
€18, Monocle

ITALY by Grey Malin Signed Collector’s Edition

From city breaks to beach vacations, Italy has it all. Get a healthy dose of wanderlust with celebrated photographer Grey Malin’s collector’s edition coffee-table tome.
$125, exclusively on

Glossier The Skincare Edit

Just when we thought we were all Glossier-ed out, they’ve only gone and made their best products in travel size, including a limited edition headband. Purchase for the millennials in your life.
$50, Glossier

Pantone Drinking Bottle

Plastic bottles are so ten years ago. With water fountains popping up at airports globally, this chic stocking stuffer is the ideal gift for those friends that seem to always be in the air.
27.60, Pantone 

Serena Hood, Co-Founder of Collagerie + former Executive Fashion Director, British Vogue

As a leading fashion editor, Serena graced the guest lists of every top fashion week around the world on behalf of VOGUE UK. During this time, she became an expert at looking good on the move and spotting emerging talent. Now, Serena has channeled over a decade of fashion experience into her new digital shopping platform Collagerie with fellow co-founder Lucinda Chambers, which launched in November 2019.

We speak to her about travel hacks, pools, and podcasts. Follow her updates at @serena_hood and check out @collagerie and 

Name three of your favorite hotels?

  • La Residence in Franschhoek, South Africa – my husband proposed to me over a picnic in the gardens, so it is a very special place to us. Every suite has a different theme and all uniquely decorated.
  • Le Bristol – the perfect home away from home in Paris.
  • Six Senses Zighy Bay – a real hidden gem, the resort sits under the mountains along the most beautiful sandy beach.
Le Bristol Paris

What is the best hotel amenity you’ve ever encountered?

The heated loo seats at the Malibu Beach Inn.

What hotel room design element can you not live without?

Black out shades.

Where would you go for a digital detox or just generally to get off the grid?

Sha Wellness Clinic is a sanctuary where you can really switch off. I remember leaving after five days feeling completely reset, recharged and “like new.”

You travel a lot for work…was this something you were seeking in a career? How do you make it as relaxing and fun as possible?

As an editor at Vogue I travelled a lot for fashion weeks and felt incredibly lucky to have a job that took me to beautiful cities, incredible hotels, and unforgettable fashion shows. A swimming pool while staying in a city is always a highlight and a great way to wake up and start the day.

What three songs are on your OOO playlist?

I actually listen to a lot of podcasts these days. Working on my own start up I love the stories and advice from entrepreneurs on ‘How I Built This.’

Do you have any favorite travel hacks?

I am too scared to try this myself, but a good friend I know always waits to be the last person to board the plane and sits in the first free seat in Business class. Apparently it works a charm!

What do you always bring with you in your carry-on?

Having recently lost my luggage, I now bring a complete wardrobe for the first 24 hours.

If you could quit your job and follow the “Mamma Mia” dream (ie open a small hotel in a foreign land or on a remote island), where would you do it?

It would have to be a vineyard in Provence. We would make our own rosé and drink it over long lunches with family and friends.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve purchased abroad and brought home (or tried to carry-on) from your travels?

A suitcase filled with my favourite fabric print to make curtains in our new home.

Beach or City or Mountain?

Beach every time.

Lost luggage, or lost phone?

Lost Phone.

Airplane food- Y/N?

Never – bring your own.

Window or Aisle?

Window for long haul, aisle for short trips.

Yoga or hotel gym?

Neither – get out and discover the place you’re visiting!

Ben Saunders, Polar Explorer, Endurance Athlete + TED Speaker

It’s safe to say Ben lives life to the extreme. He led the first return journey to the South Pole on foot via Shackleton and Scott’s route in 2013–14, and skied solo to the North Pole in 2004. In total, he has skied just over 4,500 miles on polar expeditions since 2001 and is still the only Briton to have skied solo to both the North and South Poles. Ben tells stories via his TED talks where he inspires others to take on life’s challenges (which doesn’t necessarily mean braving the Poles). On top of all that, as an ambassador for Canada Goose and Land Rover, he tests the best kit and equipment in the harshest conditions on the planet.

Follow his chilly expeditions and heroic feats on @polarben

Name three favorite hotels?

The Opposite House, Bejing

What is the best hotel amenity you’ve ever encountered?

I had a treadmill in my suite at the Intercontinental in Malta last year. I don’t know if they knew I was coming, or if it was standard issue, but I put it to good use.

What hotel room design element can you not live without?

Complete darkness and silence at night. I often unplug fridges/alarm clocks and cover up glowing LEDs on televisions with a towel.

What are your favorite “offices” while traveling?

I love NeueHouse in NYC, but the reality is that I mostly end up working from airport lounges (Virgin is my favorite). Tinto Coffee on the Fulham Palace Road was a regular haunt when I was in South West London.

Where would you go for a digital detox or just generally to get off the grid?

Nowhere beats Antarctica when it comes to disconnecting. I did a long expedition in 2013-14 (take a look at and setting up my out-of-office in October 2013 was one of the most decadent things I’ve ever done (“I won’t be checking email until late February next year, and if you need to contact me, you can’t…”).

You travel a lot for work, was this something you were seeking in a career? How do you make it as relaxing and fun as possible?

I never even imagined that what I do *could* become a career. I’ve been incredibly lucky. My father was an orphaned and penniless bricklayer who only ever left the UK once on a package holiday to Tenerife. While I feel deeply conflicted about the amount of air miles I continue to rack up, the ability to travel has broadened my own horizons immeasurably. Long-haul flights are a guilty pleasure and I find time in the air a unique opportunity to reflect and think a little more deeply.

What three songs are on your OOO playlist?

Ella by Pete Cannon – I spent a bit of time raving in warehouses as a teenager, and I’ve always had a penchant for this sort of electronic music, and tracks I can leave on repeat for ages and zone out to, whether I’m doing email on a long flight, or skiing through a blizzard.

River by Leon Bridges – the antidote for too much electronic music, and the perfect soundtrack for a heading home on a red-eye.

Violet (The Upper Room) by Cunninglynguists (!) – I’ve loved hip-hop since my teens, and while it can have its misogynistic and thuggish sides, it can also be poetic and moving, and it so often tells a story of striving and aspiration and struggle against the odds that has always inspired me to work a little harder.

Do you have any favorite travel hacks?

Never check-in luggage (unless you’re flying with skis and a sledge) and sign up for Global Entry if your travels take you to the US more than once or twice per year. It’s been a game-changer for me.

What do you always bring with you in your carry-on?

Running shoes. Everything else is negotiable.

If you could swap suitcases with anyone in the world (alive or dead) at baggage claim, who would you swap with?

Ernest Hemingway.

Have you or would you travel alone?

I’ve spent many weeks alone on solo expeditions to both the North and South poles, so I’m pretty happy with my own company, but I love going to new places with my wife. I took her to NYC for her first time last year, and I hope to take to her Antarctica one of these days. Re-experiencing through her eyes the magical places that I’ve perhaps started to take for granted is a joy.

If you’re going to a new place, and your friends have not been there, what do you consult for advice?

I often look at Strava to find running routes that the locals use.

What was your favorite room service experience ever?

Not exactly room service, but we had a ski butler at l’Apogee in Courcheval! After coffee we went back outside to find our skis and poles were ready for us, and pointing in the right direction, with a little name flag next to them.

Best travel advice you’ve ever received and from whom?

I have a “Work Hard and be Nice to People” print by Anthony Burrill on my office wall. It’s a maxim that has served me well so far.

Who is your dream “co-pilot” and why? 

I’d love to do a trip with Werner Herzog or Ed Burtynsky. The ability to tell genuinely moving stories through film and photographs is something I covet.

Anxiety and burn-out are big topics these days. How do you combat them, and how do you use travel to do so?

I’ve tried meditation, but have so far never managed to fit a regular practice into my life. My body gets seized up when I’m training hard and traveling lots (especially now that I’m in my forties!) so I use an app (see below!) that guides you through a daily flexibility routine. I try to eat well. I’ve been interested in nutrition for years and I’m going against the plant-fuelled trend by eating fresh, locally sourced and ethically reared meat whenever I can find it. I avoid sugar and anything processed with rapeseed or palm oil. I eat low-carb/high-fat unless I’m doing a lot of endurance exercise, when I use an energy drink by Maurten. Other than that, the best remedy I’ve found to feeling overwhelmed is leaving my phone at home, taking my dog for a walk in the woods near our home and reminding myself that we’ve identified 55 billion Earth-like planets in the Milky Way alone, and that what I’m worrying about invariably doesn’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of things.

Do you have any tips or tricks for beating the dreaded jet lag?

I do a lot of short trips to the US for speaking engagements and try to stay on UK time. I go to bed in the afternoon when I arrive, wake up at 4am local time, get loads of work done, run/go to the gym, have a giant American breakfast, speak, eat at the airport, skip the in-flight meal and sleep on the entire flight home. I find that regular exercise helps a lot, and I’m pretty good at sleeping on planes. I’m usually lucky enough to have a flat-bed seat and I use melatonin on longer trips (especially to China/the far east – I find flying east harder than going west). I also take zinc and magnesium before I want to go to sleep. On planes I use a combination of an eye mask, Flare’s brilliant xxx ear plugs, Bose noise-cancelling headphones over the top, and a white noise app on my iPhone to make sure that I’m not woken up!

Travel can be about the little luxuries, like a super amazing cup of coffee. Where was the best one you’ve had?

The first that springs to mind was from Gimme! Coffee on Mott St. in NYC.

What is your favorite travel book or magazine – for at home, or abroad – and why? 

Travels with Charley in Search of America‘ by John Steinbeck. I read it on an expedition Antarctica and it was perfect escapism.

What’s your go-to outfit for getting through security quickly, and still looking good?

Right now I’m wearing navy Bam sweat pants (made of bamboo!), a white t-shirt and grey cashmere crew-neck sweater from Sunspel, ON running shoes and CEP compression socks (essential for long-haul). My Bremont Endurance watch makes sure I don’t look like too much of a slob, and I hide behind a Golden State Warriors baseball cap and a pair of Oliver Peoples aviators for a bit of airport privacy.

Rank the following from most to least important to you in a hotel?

Close to things
Has a pool
Architecturally intriguing
Locals hang out there
Doesn’t break the bank
Dope minibar

If you could quit your job and follow the “Mamma Mia” dream (ie open a small hotel in a foreign land or on a remote island), where would you do it?

I’ve just started working with White Desert so in a way I’m doing precisely that! Otherwise a finca in Mallorca would be fun, and I’ve heard the cycling/hiking/running in Slovenia is next-level, so maybe an old farmhouse there to convert into a basecamp for like-minded souls…

What’s the craziest thing you’ve purchased abroad and brought home (or tried to carry-on) from your travels?

The man that hand-makes my expedition sledges (from kevlar and carbon composite) is based in Norway, so I’ve brought a few back from there over the years. In Oslo everyone knows exactly what it is when I’m wheeling it around on a trolley and trying to get it sideways through bollards and doors (they call it a ‘pulk’), but at Heathrow most people assume it’s an exotic canoe…

You have an hour to spare at the airport. What would I find you doing?

Tragically I’d probably have my headphones on, doing emails.

Where’s your next trip? If vacation, why did you choose there? 

I’m currently on a Virgin flight to NYC, and then on to Washington DC to see my speaking agents. My wife and I had an amazing time at Torralbenc in Menorca (we were told it was like a quieter version of Mallorca, and they were right).

Beach or City or Mountain?


Alone or with someone else?

With my wife, as she doesn’t often get to join me!

In flight wifi- good idea: yes or no?


Lost luggage, or lost phone?

Luggage (I can buy almost anything I need with my phone these days!)

Airplane food?

Yes, although I augment it with protein bars…

Fantasy mini bar/fridge item?

A bottle of still water that isn’t disposable, and that preferably doesn’t have a price tag attached.

Early check-in/ late check-out?

Early check-in

Favorite subscription service you’ll never delete?


In flight cocktail?

Black coffee!

Favourite travel app?


Window or Aisle?

I’m typing this from a Virgin Upper Class aisle seat (to NYC), but I love a window. The approach into Seattle was a recent favourite view

Yoga or hotel gym? 


The Alps hotels that every freerider (or off-piste dreamer) must stay in at least once

Ski season is officially upon us, and we’re pretty pleased about it. And while we love a leisurely afternoon ski followed by a warming vin chaud (in a hot tub, perhaps?), we also love the heady thrill that comes with taking things off-piste, literally. We’ve partnered with FATMAP, the essential mapping app for any self-respecting outdoors-person, to get the lowdown on the best off-piste and freeriding spots in the Alps  – and, of course, where to stay when you’re there.


Verbier is serious about off-piste – so much so that it plays host to Freeride Week annually in January, where skiers from all over the world come to tackle some incredible powder. Stay in the Experimental Chalet (of Experimental Cocktail Club fame) – rooms are cozy but modern, and the famous Farm Club will literally be on your doorstep. Plus, apres-ski cocktails are obviously covered.

Experimental Chalet, Verbier


Chamonix is said to be one of the world’s best ski areas for adventurous off-pisters. Give the Vallée Blanc a go – with a guide if necessary – for incredible views of Mont Blanc. For a cheeky, affordable and well-located hotel, try the brilliantly-named Rockypop in Les Houches: think fun decor, basic but hip rooms, and an on-site ski shop.

Val D’Isere

Along with neighboring Tinges, Val D’Isère is in the Vanoise National Park, meaning it has some of the most impressive natural landscape around so freeriders can trail the valleys and slopes with views aplenty. Hotel Avenue Lodge is our shout for a place to get your well-earned rest. It’s smack bang in the middle of Val D’Isère and rooms are chic and cool without being overly traditional.

Three Valleys

The best thing about the Three Valleys is that there’s actually four of them (fun fact). Courcheval and Val Thorens alone offer an extensive ski area, and while VT is the highest at 2300m, Courcheval is where you want to stay. Incredible dining options and access to trails and peaks perfect for freeride powder, and there’s also some incredible hotels. Our pick: Hôtel Barrière Les Neiges. Rooms are miles away from traditional, cheesy alpine lodge vibes and views are second-to-none. Oh, and it’s ski-in ski-out, of course.

Hôtel Barrière Les Neiges, Courcheval


We also dig Austria, you know. Ischgl is Europe’s biggest freeride regions, and while there are slopes abound for all levels, the Piz Val Gronda especially great for slightly less-experienced off-pisters (breathtaking views included). While not smack bang in the middle of Ischgl, Hotel Zhero is our pick for sleep time. But trust us, it’s not just for sleeping: set up shop by the roaring fires in beautifully-designed rooms with exposed brick walls and soft fabrics and enjoy a drink before dinner at the Zhero Open Grill, the area’s first à la carte restaurant.

Check out FATMAP’s interactive Guidebook to these spots here and visit for more

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