In this Travel Checklist column, we ask entrepreneurs to open up their carry-ons and share the items they can't leave home without.
For Jody Levy, travel is an experience of both body and mind. As such, the co-founder and creative director of WTRMLN WTR, a cold-pressed watermelon water, she packs her trusty hard-shell carryon with an array of healthy snacks, art supplies, and yes, even tarot cards.
“I travel because it feeds my soul,” says the New York-based Levy, who is also founder of Stitch Experience Design + Assembly, an interactive marketing firm, and Native Nomad, an online travel guide. “I travel because parts of my life are in all different corners of the globe. The people I collaborate with, my partners and projects, my family and friends are all over, so I make sure I am all over. I travel to study and expand and experience as much as I can.”
Levy logs an estimated 175,000 miles a year — Los Angeles, Denver, and Detroit are common domestic destinations, while London, Tulum, Mexico, and Cusco, Peru, take her abroad. “I gather my creative inspiration from traveling and experiencing different cultures. Many of these places I travel to frequently to foster local love for WTRMLN WTR. For example I recently traveled to my hometown of Detroit to ensure an incredible, unique and successful launch,” she says.
But don’t expect to find Levy at any tourist traps. “I always tend to find the little known places and spaces — the underground music holes, the spots the artists hang out in,” she says. “My passion is meeting the locals and really understanding each place I land. And then I love to share my stories and help others experience the native culture.”
During a recent layover back home, we asked Levy to open up her suitcase — and reveal the treasure trove of goodies this road warrior brings to connect her body and mind while she’s on the road.
1. Rimowa suitcase. “This bag is with me always. I am obsessed with Rimowa. I have every shape and size and they make my travel experience super comfortable. Plus, I think the futuristic utilitarian design is sexy.”
2. WTRMLN WTR Cooler bag. “I keep a cooler bag with me so that I can carry WTRMLN WTR, green juice, salads, and cold, fresh stuff along my journey.”
3. “Connections.” “Car charger, splitter, USB stick. “The splitter is for when I meet awesome strangers and I want to share a movie or a media experience with them.”
4. Pilot Juice black pen. “My life revolves around the Pilot V5 series Juice black pen. I am never without them. I love them. I live by them. They are the perfect width, they always maintain a perfect mark, and are just juicy enough to bleed when I need them to.”
5. Japanese ink and bamboo tools. “I am an artist and most of my work is large scale, but when I am on the road, I travel with small cold-pressed watercolor paper, a jar of ink, and my bamboo and bark. When I have a moment to reflect and turn off my brain, which is so important with the chaos of being on the road, I draw.”
6. Palo Santo. “This is a sacred bark from the Andes that is used to clear energy. I travel with it because it smells divine and I work with it to clear space and to help those around me and to heal.”
7. Notebooks. “I use old-school paper notebooks and carry all different sizes and styles. I feel it is the best way to jot down quick thoughts, scribble ideas, sketch concepts for packaging, marketing, and work through ideas.”
8. Crystals and stones. “I always have crystals and stones in my pockets and in my bags. I collect them from the places I go and I gift them to others along the way.”
9. WTRMLN WTR. “Goes everywhere with me. I never know when I might want to share the story and give people the experience of their first time with our liquid love.”
10. Tarot cards. “I travel with this deck by The Wild Unknown, which is my favorite deck. Every card is hand drawn. I travel with Tarot because it’s fun and I work with the cards to get information. It’s all about the balance of business and a good dose of magic.”
11. Reflective ankle strip. “My reflective ankle strip is in my bag always — my carryon and sometimes my purse. I rent bikes wherever I go so that I can ride to meetings, dinners and parties and I always want to be safe on the roads at night.”
12. Emergency food. “It’s hard to get clean food on the road. That is why I travel with coconut butter packs, my favorite greens powder by Aloha, delicious teas, and super clean protein bars, so that I can get healthy food no matter what the circumstance.”
13. Small batch artisanal chocolate. “I don’t leave home without it. I travel with special chocolate that our WTRMLN WTR food scientist Andrey makes for me with no sugar of any kind and filled with herbs and lots of love. I am not into sugar. I select products that are low in natural sugar and have no refined sugars of any kind.”
14. Glasses and sunglasses. “My eyewear collection is certainly a fetish. I typically travel with four to six pairs of sun and optical frames to coordinate with my mood, the occasion, and my outfits, of course. They all come from Shades Optical in Detroit, Michigan, who is a client of my experience-design firm. I have more than over 50 pairs to select from, and yes, I am blind as a bat without them. (Pictured here: Bruno Chaussignand | Tennessee, Barton Perreira | Marshall, Theo | James, Anne Et Valentin | Sagan.)”
15. Thank-you cards. “I am always landing in unexpected places, so I keep thank-you cards and little tokens of gratitude on hand for whatever and whoever comes up.”
16. Facial mist. “I always travel with a facial mister that is packed with healing herbs, to spray on my face in the air and when I get off a long flight. My favorite is made by Gem and Bolt and has Mezcal and Damiana in it, which hydrates and replenishes.”