Boarding Pass – Suzanne Harrison

Suzanne Harrison is a writer and photographer who travels the world while working. After leaving her London apartment five years ago to move to a farm in Devon, England to start her freelance business, two years was enough and she set off on a globetrotting adventure starting in Australia and New Zealand. These days she’s winding her way through Europe, currently based in Paris, with Berlin on the radar. In each location she sublets apartments for a few months at a time, and seeks out locals to help show her the non-tourist sites. I have to say, this lifestyle is sounding more and more tempting these days. I fear today’s edition of Boarding Pass is putting crazy ideas into my head – read on! {Thanks, Suzanne!}

{Suzanne also likes to pretend she can play the piano.}

last trip taken:

Before Paris, I spent a month in Brno, Czech Republic. Before that I lived in Lisbon for three months.

next trip on deck:
I don’t have any immediate plans to leave Paris (someone find me an apartment! please!). But next I’d like to spend some time in Berlin.

one place you would go back to again and again:
London – no matter how long I’m away from it, London always feels like home.

place you’d most likely recommend a friend go visit:
It depends on the friend. New Zealand for the prettiest things your eye ever did see. London, Barcelona, Melbourne and New York for food and culture-loving types. Overall, Paris is my favourite city.

preferred method of transportation:
If I know vaguely where I’m going, I like the bus for nosy people-watching – I don’t mind that it takes longer. Otherwise the underground / metro, or long-distance trains in Europe are amazingly cheap compared with in the UK.

place you’ve never been but dying to go:
I know everyone says this here, but JAPAN JAPAN JAPAN! I also have hankerings to befriend sloths in Costa Rica and to visit the Tamimi Giraffe Hotel in Kenya, just for the hilariousness of having a giraffe stick its head through the window while you’re munching on your brekkie. Also Iceland if I’m feeling rich one day.

place you’d never go back:
There’s nowhere I’ve had a bad time and wouldn’t go back to. There have been some very overrated touristy places that I wouldn’t seek out again. There are so many cool places in the world that a somewhere I have been before would have to be something pretty special going on to lure me back. Big cities are the exception, as there are always new things to see if you like art and culture.

most memorable trip in 2 sentences or less:
I always have the best holidays in the US – there is such a diverse landscape, so much to do. I’ve been there many times but it still feels like I’ve only scratched the surface (if it weren’t for pesky timezones I’d be camping out there like a shot). For pinch-yourself-amazing scenery, New Zealand – Wanaka and Golden Bay on the South Island – oh my! That’s three sentences – is that allowed?

how do you prepare for a trip?
As my life and work are ‘on the road’, I am perpetually prepared for travelling. I have my Easyjet protocol totally down, including wearing five jumpers onto the plane to save weight allowance. I’m also blessed with a handy organisation gene, so I’m pretty on top of my arrangements, which can be fairly hectic.

When I decided to live and work ‘location independently’ three years ago, I sold off a lot of my clutter, so I don’t have many things. I am, however, very lucky to have lovely parents who let me use some loft space for storing clothes, so when I’m back in the UK you’ll find me rummaging up there dressing myself from cardboard boxes.

If in Europe, I travel on budget airlines, so my packing has to be very tight. I’ll choose a selection of versatile clothing, a few pairs of shoes and a range of accessories – I love scarves as they can be worn so many different ways and change the look of a well-worn outfit.

how do you record your travels when you’re traveling?
I always have a camera with me – so photographs. I’ve got more picky about what I take photos of recently, though – I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. I set myself a goal at the start of this year to make a new piece of work at every travel destination. In Lisbon I made a series about an area of redevelopment alongside the city’s estuary.

In the Czech Republic I made a small series with an old Czech camera I found in a junk shop and inspired by an inscription found on the wall of the apartment I lived in.

My boyfriend Dave also writes a blog about our travels which is a great record of our adventures. He’s hilarious and (much to my envy as a writer myself), has a real talent for the words.

what is your favorite thing to photograph in a new place?
It really depends on the place. I used to photograph everything, but now I like to spend some time seeking out an interesting story and capturing something more meaningful. I of course still love a good tourist pic, though.

As I rent or sublet apartments longer term, I like to document the spaces I live on my travels. I’m interested in attachments we form with places and things; after a few days in someone else’s space, I can feel perfectly settled. I’ve lived in such interesting places: an old furniture warehouse in Melbourne, a student house in Brisbane, lots of artists’ homes, a beautiful apartment overlooking the castle in Brno, and a yogi’s apartment in Stockholm to name a few.

on an average, how many pictures to you take on a trip?
I go through waves of productivity with my own photography. Sometimes I’ll feel really inspired and confident, other times less so. I’m conscious of how the perpetual need to photograph what you’re experiencing can actually detract from the experience though. I’ve done trips or been to events where I’ve had a camera glued to my face most of the time, so I’ve only really seen what’s happening when looking at the photographs. So it’s nice to sometimes put the camera down and enjoy the moment.

On a big day, maybe I’ll take around 70. Others none.

what’s in your “designer travel kit” ?
My MacBook, usually three cameras (digital and film), Kindle and Moleskine notebooks (containing a mixture of life-changing ideas, drawings and shopping lists). I also like to keep things old school with a paper diary.

what do you do after a trip? how long after a trip does this happen?
As I’m working whilst travelling, all my records of the trip are made as I go along. I like to spend a good amount of time each week on photo editing. I post new portfolio works to my photography website and keep a blog there too.

favorite souvenir/thing to bring back?
I like to bring back interesting stories and experiences rather than things. One night in Sydney I put Dave on the police missing persons list, so now it’s always a bonus to bring him back with me too.
The only thing I collect on my travels are really special pieces of vintage clothing. All my favourite pieces are vintage, and I love that each one tells a little story about my travels. I always hunt out flea markets, and if I ever decide to call somewhere my permanent home, I’d love to furnish it with pieces from, say, the markets in Brooklyn, Vienna and Paris.


Boarding Pass is a weekly column exploring the creative ways people travel. For past editions, check out the list of names in the column on the right!


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