Magazine article The World Today

'I've Been Separated from My Bags Too Often'

Magazine article The World Today

'I've Been Separated from My Bags Too Often'

Article excerpt

Claire Spencer, head of the Middle East and North African programme at Chatham House

How many days did you spend travelling last year?

About 90 days, in three or four-day trips. There's no alternative if you need to get the feel of a place.

Name your favourite/least favourite airport - and why?

Bitter experience has taught me to be very careful changing planes at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport. I have been separated from my bags too often. If I have only an hour in transit, I have learnt just to take a carry-on bag.

Name five items essential for any journeyI have an iPad and a laptop, but I cling to my diary. It never lets me down. I take my mobile, but I don't answer it abroad. It's too confusing to be asked by a journalist to comment on Saudi Arabia when I'm in Morocco. I respond to texts. Otherwise, a comb.

Any advice on getting round the "no liquids" rule at airport terminals?

I thought I had a good wheeze. I bought some sun cream airside at Heathrow, which is permitted. But when I got to Charles de Gaulle the security people refused to let me take it on the plane. So my advice is banal: the night before flying I spoon face cream into tiny pots.

Do you sleep on planes?

With a blow-up neck cushion and an eye mask I can sleep from take-off. If I'm not tired, I like to talk to people, and the most interesting ones are in economy.

Any tips for getting exercise on long-haul flights?

If I'm not sleeping, I fidget. Does that count?

What kind of clothing do you wear when travelling? Business, smart casual or relaxed traveller? …

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