A nose for travel.


I’m flying to Bangkok next week for another
regional creative directors’ conference. (I attended 2 last year, but was too
pregnant to travel for the most recent one.) I will tackle the fear and loathing
that normally accompanies it in another entry.

For now, I want to think about what to

I never fly without fragrance. I
don’t assault my seatmates with uninhibited spritzing. But I do scent myself
before boarding, and after disembarking – especially if I have to wait for my
checked-in baggage. Lucien, even when he’s red-faced and squalling, will calm
down when he’s wrapped in his grandmother’s yet-to-be-laundered housedress. We
both need reassurance, except I assuage mine with bottled chemical concoctions.

Your nose is disturbed out of its
complacency whenever you fly, and land in a different country. I believe we tune
out background smells just as we do noise. When the background smell changes, we
are unsettled at a deep, deep level. (Olfactory fatigue is beneficial to
survival; unless we can’t smell what we normally smell, we’d be too distracted
to recognize a new smell like, let’s say, the stink of Komodo dragon breath.) I
think this shift is partly to blame for the inner displacement we call
“namamahay” – “home”-ing – when we can’t shit or sleep in an unfamiliar place.
Bringing along a familiar fragrance can help prevent

The fragrances that travel
with me must be middleweight (because my nose becomes more sensitive), with
not-so-forcible sillage and yet still be beautifully present. I usually bring
one day and one night fragrance. Both must share a certain note or notes that
will let me layer them to arrive at a third. If I am scrimping on space, and can
only bring one fragrance, it will be any of the

1. Keiko Mecheri Damascena –
exotic roses and musk, sparkling fruitiness.

Chanel Cristalle – green floral goodness.

Fruits & Passion Lemon Vanilla – uncomplicated lemon-square yumminess.

4. L’Occitane Amber – smoky amber and

5. Etro Palais Jamais – bergamot and
burnt tea leaves. A very librarian fragrance.