Traveling with style

Breaking out the travel guide  is a great way to pass the time plotting and planning your dream vacation until you’re actually there. But many guidebooks either assume that readers are either wealthy beyond belief or willing to walk ten miles to save 20 cents on dinner; it’s all 5 star hotels at one end and sleeping on mud floors at the other. Where are the guides for those of us who like the middle road of boutique hotels and local style secrets and a little luxury at a reasonable price?

That’s where the Holiday Goddess Handbag Guide to Paris, New York, London and Rome comes in – if you are visiting one of those cities, obviously enough. This compact guide contains the combined wisdom of a whole group of holiday goddesses who have been there, done that and  found the 75% off sale while they were there. It started life as the diary of editor Jessica Adams who passed it around to pick up advice from those who make traveling with style their business; Vogue contributors, Lonely Planet writers, novelists and more.

After a year of traveling through handbags in Melbourne, London and Paris, the Holiday Goddess Handbag Guide to Paris, New York, London and Rome was filled with hard-won tips and secrets; where to stay chicly but cheaply in some of the world’s most expensive cities, how to find the best cocktails, the vintage markets, the best local brands. As being full of information it’s a visual treat; packaged in red linen and filled with gorgeous and iconic illustrations. That cute cover has a practical side too; the guide can take a beating in your bag and still look good when you pull it out later.

I caught up with Jessica to ask her a few questions about the book, the cities in it and, of course, handbags.

Q. What was the most surprising tip you received? And the most useful?

A. The most surprising tip we received about travel, was to volunteer at an animal charity (like the RSPCA) because the best house-sitting opportunities involve animal care, and owners feel reassured if their pets are in the hands of women who can prove they’re experienced with cats and dogs. The most useful tip we received about Paris, London, New York and Rome was this – always go in winter – cheap seats, often two-three seats to yourself on the plane and far smaller queues at major attractions.)

Q. The Holiday Goddess reviews Paris, London, New York and Rome – if there were to be Southern Hemisphere edition, what cities do you think would be in the running?

A. I’d personally like to cover every Australian capital city, and also some female traveller favourites, like Byron Bay and the Blue Mountains. I’m sure the other editors would have some fascinating ideas, though, as many of them live from Perth through to Melbourne.

Q. I’m going to have to ask – what sort of handbag do you yearn to put your copy of the guide in, and what other items are indispensable to holiday goddesses?

A. My favourite handbag of all time is a vintage Hermes Kelly. If I find that at a charity shop in London any time soon, I’ll let you know! Holiday Goddess editors find their notepads (paper not computer) indispensable, and illustrator Anna Johnson and I have a lot of them. Scribbling and sketching is the new black!

Q. The book itself is packaged in red linen and contains some amazing illustrations – in this age of the iPad, what made you decide on old world chic and a book?

A. After three years of being exclusively electronic and online, Holiday Goddess editors longed for paper and linen! But we are exploring apps for the iPad too. Holiday Goddess is three years old on November 28th and as so many of the people involved were authors or book editors, we had always secretly hoped it would turn into a book.

The book also has an online aspect at where you can find things to smooth your own travels, from podcasts to printable guides and (my favourite) customisable luggage tags. Jessica Adams is the managing editor of the site which recently celebrated its third birthday. It’s an evolving site that depends on its readers for all its secrets and tips. If you’d like to take a peak through their top picks, or even send in a few suggestions of your own, you can catch the goddesses online at or on Twitter.


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Sadhbh Warren

Sadhbh Warren is a freelance writer and proud booklover. Her name is pronounced Sive - like five – an Irish name, easier to say than spell! She lives in Sydney, writing travel and humour articles, and is always on the lookout for a great new book.