David Sedaris, the author of “Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls” and “When You Are Engulfed in Flames,” spends his time in West Sussex, England, when he isn’t on his twice-yearly 45-city lecture tours. Hotels figure highly in his repeat vacation spots.
He returns to the Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore Santa Barbara again and again (“Everyone there looks like Mitt and Ann Romney”), and he loves the Ambassade Hotel in Amsterdam (“I’ve probably stayed there at least a dozen times, and they keep the same people there. It’s a nice feeling to go to another country and have people remember your name and be so warm”).
His favorite thing to do while traveling? Shop.
He calls Tokyo the top city for shopping: “It really is the best. Usually you’ll go to a city, and it has one street with interesting, exciting shops. But in Tokyo it just goes on and on and on. It’s harder now, though. When I first moved to Paris, I could bring people back a Diptyque candle or chocolate from Maison du Chocolat. Now those things are everywhere. But in Japan there are still things you can buy that people at home haven’t heard of.”
Here’s what he packs on every trip.
▪ A wooden hanger that folds in half. “It’s for washing clothes in the sink, because in a crummy hotel you can’t disconnect the hangers. When you go to 45 cities in a row, all you think about is laundry. I always bring Hanro T-shirts; they’re a Swiss brand, and they dry really quickly.”
▪ Laguiole metal cutlery. “I bought this in Japan, but it’s French. Sometimes someone gives me an apple, and I can’t eat it. I’m not confident about my top front teeth. So I bring this cutlery that folds in half.” (This goes in checked luggage.)
▪ Vicks VapoRub. “I once spent a week at a medical examiner’s office, and they would put Vicks on their top lip to stop the smell. I use it when someone is wearing one of the handful of perfumes that give me an instant headache. I bring a handkerchief, too, and use it with the Vicks as a nosegay.”
▪ An extendible backscratcher. “The scratching part looks like a bear claw. I bought it in an airport. I have one at home, and I have another one for travel because you don’t want to be without it. Airplanes dry your skin out, and when you’re suffering like that, you don’t even have the sense to be embarrassed about using a backscratcher in public.”
▪ Trudon room spray. “It’s the Ernesto fragrance, which has something to do with Hemingway. My sister Amy gave it to me. I don’t use it all the time, but sometimes you’re in a hotel room that smells of sorrow.”
▪ Set Editions’ Stop Talking cards. “They say, ‘Stop talking.’ I travel with 25 boxes and give them out at book signings. Sometimes people misunderstand and think I want them to stop talking, but they’re gifts. If people are on their phones or if someone’s bothering you, you can hand them one.”