Travel The World In 1 Bag With Cosmo's Resident Fashion Pro

We've known the stylish Ms. Aya Kanai from her gigs at Nylon and Teen Vogue. And, now as the fashion director of Cosmopolitan, she's a rather big deal.
Seeing her in New York, Paris, Milan, and beyond, we've wondered how she always brings her unique blend of punk and formality wherever she goes. Like, honestly, how many bags of clothes does one need to look so perfectly on point all the time? Surprisingly, the answer is one. Kanai not only packs light and shows up stylish as all get-out, but she also hits the plane with only her carry-on in tow. Impressive, yes?
For a peek into how she manages it all, we went over to Kanai's place to talk travel tips, what she never leaves home without, and, yeah, to pack one stylish bag. Click through to see the results, and keep your eyes open for a few extra pointers from our friends at Hyatt.
Hair and Makeup by Bethany Brill.
1 of 9
Photographed by Atisha Paulson.
So, as a fashion editor, how often are you traveling?
"I style the Cosmo covers, so I travel once a month to L.A. for our cover shoot. At this point, I pretty much have a 'go bag' of a few personal items ready by the door, because I travel so often. Although I am a 'fashion person,' I'm pretty low-maintenance, so I tend to pack as light."
2 of 9
Photographed by Atisha Paulson.
But, what about all those fashion weeks around the globe?
"I go to Europe for fashion month, and that does take a bit more planning. That said, my wardrobe is purchased, so that everything goes with everything. In theory, I could blindly reach into my closet, pull out any two items, and wear them! Needless to say, this concept does not always work. Generally, though, I wear lots of black and navy, my prints are usually black-and-white, and I love red or metallic shoes, which all tend to go together. My fashion friends make fun of me for wearing 'sensible shoes,' but even during shows, I'm running around so much that I'd much rather be doing that in a sensible shoe."
3 of 9
Photographed by Atisha Paulson.
Well, speaking of shoes, what's normally in your luggage?
"I typically pack some boots for a photo shoot (currently, I'm loving my berry suede Tabitha Simmons pair). I also have a couple from Marni and Chloé in the rotation. See, flat boots are more comfortable for running around on set. I bring one pair of fun heels for a night out. Right now, that would be my Fendi metallic heels or my Pierre Hardy simple black stilettos. Lastly, I'll always bring Nike sneakers for the gym. Oh, and I always pack all my footwear in shower caps!"
4 of 9
Photographed by Atisha Paulson.
Shower caps! Good to know. Now, what beauty products always make the trip with you?
"My most important items are my eyelash curler, mascara, tinted moisturizer, and face cleanser. I try to keep a bright-red lipstick around, because even after a long flight, a red lip can perk up your mood. I also keep travel-sized versions of scents I love. L'eau d'issey or Daisy by Demeter are the ones I'm currently wearing a lot."

5 of 9
Photographed by Atisha Paulson.
Okay, so as a fashion director, we understand that you have to pack a lot of clothes. But, what else comes with you every time?
"For my job, I have to stay connected to my office at all times. I am obsessed with my iPad, and I also love staying up-to-date by reading the tablet editions of all the magazines and the newspaper. I download everything before a trip and read them all.

But, at a certain point, I like to stop staring at a screen and read a real book. Usually it's a collection of essays. Right now, I'm working on The White Album by Joan Didion and David Foster Wallace's A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again.

Oh, and I've recently been loving my mini JAMBOX! There's no better way to start the day than by dancing around your hotel room."
6 of 9
Photographed by Atisha Paulson.
And, when it comes to actually, you know, filling up your luggage, what's your planning and packing process?
"I usually pack the exact amount I need for the days of my trip, and then throw in a few extra options right before I leave. I rarely wear everything I packed, but it makes the process more fun. But, I recently went on a trip that involved seven straight days of business meetings. For that, I actually planned each outfit, so I looked crisp and professional every day."

7 of 9
Photographed by Atisha Paulson.
And for Fashion Week?
"I usually go with the shoes first. I select about five to six pairs that I know I can make work in a variety of contexts. Yes, a couple heels, but mostly boots and flats. Then, I pick my outerwear, the cropped and leather jackets that are the staples of my look. Once I know what jackets and shoes I'm bringing, the other stuff is a no-brainer! Silk tops, jeans, a couple miniskirts, and I'm done!

But, I never forget my Balenciaga leather jacket. It works in every context, work or casual. It's my favorite item in my wardrobe, so I'd never leave home without it!"

8 of 9
Photographed by Atisha Paulson.
Tell us about your luggage.
"Minimal is the way to go. I've had luggage with a lot of bells and whistles, but the ones I use most often are simple and function perfectly. My Tumi luggage is great. Plus, it expands if I acquire things while I'm on the road.

I always keep a separate pouch in my bag with my essentials — Clare Vivier's leather ones are the best for this. They're so versatile and awesome. I use them in my tote to carry my essentials like my wallet, phone, and keys. Then in the evening they double as a clutch.

It's kind of silly, but I have a three-letter name, so I've had it monogramed on my Tumi luggage and my Goyard travel tote."
9 of 9
Photographed by Atisha Paulson.
Any final travel tips you'd like to share with our readers?
"Well, I always request to stay on the floor of the hotel that is the same floor as the gym. That way in the morning, I get up and have zero excuses not to go for a jog.

Also, I take a minute to call ahead to my hotel and get a sense of what amenities they have. Is there a pool? A sauna? Knowing all that stuff in advance will make your free time much more enjoyable.

And, if you're traveling internationally, bring multiple wallets. My American currency always stays in my U.S. wallet, and I have a separate wallet for euros and one for yen (when i go to Japan to see my family). This way, your wallets always have a bit of money in them when you arrive to your destination.

Oh, and only bring a carry-on!"

More from Living


R29 Original Series