After years of exploring the remotest corners of the globe, Geoffrey Kent has perfected the art of being prepared. Here the Abercrombie & Kent Founder reveals his travel essentials – and what to avoid on your next trip
I’m never without my Louis Vuitton briefcase
Good hand luggage is vital. If you are travelling commercially, carry your need-to-have items with you and not in the hold. I always check my luggage as it comes out so fast these days but I’m never without my Louis Vuitton briefcase. It’s a Président Classeur from 1972 that’s been all over the world with me. I guess you could say it’s become my signature piece. I love that you can fling it in the back of a truck or helicopter luggage hold without it getting dented. No matter what I’ve done to it or where I’ve taken it – it always looks good.
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In a pinch, I’ve used it as weights for my daily workout when staying in a tent in the middle of nowhere. Fully packed, it weighs about 11kg. I’ve also used it to get out of many a hole – figuratively and literally. In Tanzania when my Land Cruiser got stuck on a dirt track, I put my case down in the mud, placed the jack on top and jacked the vehicle out. It’s indestructible. Little did I know, when I bought it nearly 50 years ago, that it would still be going strong half a century later. Talk about a future heirloom…
Or my Iridium satellite phone
Louis Pasteur said that “chance favours the prepared”, and once – in 1975 – I spent a night in jail in Juba, Sudan. The Southern Sudanese army were holding some of my clients hostage and, against all advice, I had flown in to rescue them. I sat in that stale, dank cell wondering how on earth I’d fix the situation when I didn’t even have a phone… All ended well, but I’ll never forget that night.
Nowadays I also carry my iPhone. Google Maps has been a game changer in terms of navigating the world. On my first ever solo journey, I carried a large, folding Shell map. Now all this information is available at the touch of a screen, making even the farthest corners of Earth more accessible.
I pack shoes that work for any occasion
For a good grounding, Merrell’s ‘Vibram Traction’ boots are the perfect blend of casual cool and clever high-performance tech. Extraordinarily light, they are equally at home in the bush and on a mountainside. The rubber sole provides stability and durability. Having grown up running barefoot wild around the Aberdares in Kenya, shoes are a bit of a nuisance, but Merrell’s trainers have been designed for barefoot running so are the perfect holiday shoe for me. I also pack Hugo Boss and Gucci pairs for smart events when away too.
I like to stay connected – even in the most extreme climates
When journeying to colder climes, my Geoffrey Kent Safari touch-screen gloves are invaluable. My favourite app is Instagram. I do it religiously and hate missing out on a photo opportunity when fumbling to take off gloves. Made from a mix of wool and cashmere, these have conductive pads on the forefinger and thumb to allow you to use your device without removing them.
I try to leave the smallest impact possible
On a less material note, a philanthropic outlook is vital. How can you positively impact lives and livelihoods in the communities where you travel? Examining how we can contribute to animal conservation will ensure longevity of those populations. For example, point blank refuse to partake in elephant riding, painting or any activity in which the animals are forced to ‘perform’ in any way. These activities are not natural, and the training required is detrimental to this species’ wellbeing. Travelling with conscience is the only way we can insure a sustainable future.
I love to travel with a companion
My wife Otavia shares my sense of adventure and desire to explore. She often accompanies me on the Inspiring Expeditions I lead. We’re off to Corsica next, then will be circling the globe by private jet, before ending the year with the Emperor penguins at the South Pole.
Geoffrey Kent has just launched the Geoffrey Kent Safari Collection, a range of timeless, high-performance, luxury travel apparel and luggage for today’s adventurer. Visit www.geoffreykentsafari.com for further information.