Fathom Questionnaire

Claire Oldman On Her Favorite Travels

by Claire Oldman

Hometown: London

Occupation: Writer 

Favorite destinations: Paris, Venice, Stockholm archipelago, Oman.

Dying to visit: Lisbon, Berlin, Japan, the west coast of France, Argentina, Zanzibar, Madagascar.

Bizarre travel rituals: I remove hotel bedspreads immediately. I used to take pictures of my feet everywhere I went, but the Internet made me realize that everyone does that. 

In-flight relaxation regime: Short haul — stare out the window, look at the clouds and scenery below and dream. Long haul — eye mask, non-airline blanket, socks, earplugs, sleeping pill, gin & tonic = sweet oblivion.

Always in carry-on: Everything. I hardly ever check luggage. It's a bag within a bag within a bag situation. Clear plastic Eres swimsuit pouches for beauty products/security checks. 

Concierge or DIY? DIY. I don't trust concierges to know what I like, but sometimes I trust recommendations from taxi drivers.

See it all or take it easy? I want to see it all, but not if it means I have to be on a schedule. 

Drive or be driven? I love the idea of driving round the hairpin bends of a corniche in a vintage Alfa Romeo, but scenic train rides also hold their own romance.

Travel hero: Simone de Beauvoir. 

Weirdest thing seen on travels: Almost everything, every second of the day in India. Perhaps a woman in a sari with a pot of tarmac on her head, repairing the middle of a motorway.

Best hotel amenity: Ironed newspapers, personalized stationery, room service breakfast.

Everywhere I go, I check out the best breakfast spots. 

I dream about my meal at the rooftop of our budget hotel overlooking the lake and the white castellated rooftops of Udaipur. I can't remember exactly what we ate that night but it was delicious — cooked on a single gas burner by a teenage chef. We sat on low cushions drinking Kingfisher beer in the dry heat. It was late at night with a sandstorm blowing, enormous flocks of bats circling above, a full moon, and fireworks.

When I arrive in a new place, I learn the lay of the land by immediately taking a good walk around. I have a compass-like sense of direction so when I arrive I like to get my bearings and check escape routes and threats of landslide, stuff like that. Then I go for a coffee or an aperitif at a local bar, depending on the hour.

I always bring home beauty/pharmacy products, yogurt, cheese, wine, antique linens, textiles, magazines, bougainvillea plants, perfume, clothes (from Paris).

If I never return to a campsite in England it'll be too soon because cold, damp nylon is not something I seek out for enjoyment. 

I travel for the souvenirs (in both the English and French meanings). 

We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.