IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Why One Flying Canadian Loves Altoids, Lip Balm and Band-Aids

We peek inside DwellStudio founder Christiane Lemieux's Louis Vuitton carry-on to see what she brings on frequent trips around the world.
/ Source:

In this monthly Travel Checklist column, we ask entrepreneurs to open up their carry-ons and share the items they can't leave home without.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Christiane Lemieux, founder of DwellStudio, frequently travels to Asia and beyond to visit her company's factories. In the image, hover over the numbers for a description. | Image credit: Christiane Lemieux


Many entrepreneurs view travel as a necessary evil -- an often-exhausting cost of doing business in the global economy. Not DwellStudio founder and creative director Christiane Lemieux. "I love to travel," she says. "I would be happy living out of a suitcase, going from hotel to hotel."

Christiane Lemieux

And quite often, she does. Her popular home furnishings and accessories company, founded in 2000, now manufactures its colorful wares in Lithuania, Portugal, India, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Haiti, as well as the United States and her native Canada. Indeed, many of DwellStudio's unique designs have been inspired by Lemieux's own globetrotting. Today, she regularly travels to DwellStudio's factories to check quality, tweak the lines and "make sure that I would work there, too." She clocks about 200,000 miles a year. "It could be more than that, actually," she jokes.

Increasingly, she brings her kids -- Isabelle, 7, and William, 5 -- along for the ride. "My kids are becoming expert travelers and are always up for the next adventure," she says. "I always tack on something extra." Most recently, during a break in production at her factory in Vietnam, she jaunted off to Cambodia. Her new favorite travel habit is something the kids can relate to -- she Instagrams all her boarding passes to document where she's going and where she's been.

We recently caught up with Lemieux -- back home in New York -- to take a peek inside her carry-on.

1. Vintage 1970s Louis Vuitton tote

"I found this at the Brimfield Flea Market in Massachusetts and use it as my carry-on."

2. Altoids

"They help with motion sickness."

3. Change of clothes for sleeping

"I use long flights to catch up on sleep. I bring a change of clothes."

4. Japanese Yu-BeUB lip balm

"It's especially hydrating, and the Japanese do the best packaging. Why have ordinary lip balm?"

5. Bose noise-canceling headphones

"You can always tune out the person next to you on the plane. It's the ultimate defense. You want to get in your own world. It's a traveler's equivalent of 'Do Not Disturb.' You put those on and people know to leave you alone."

6. Crayons and stickers

"There's always this tenuous time between when you take off and when you can use devices and that's when parents would whip out the iPad. This gives them something to do."

7. Children's snacks

"When you're a parent, you can't go anywhere without Goldfish, whether it's the park or Tibet. Children inevitably get hungry at the worst times."

8. A stash of U.S. dollars

"It turns out you can use them anywhere -- and places like Cambodia actually favor them."

9. Various foreign currencies

"You never know where you will end up."

10. Ambien

"During a big trip, like Vietnam, I get on the plane, have dinner and take an Ambien. Unless my kids are traveling with me -- then I tough it out. When you travel for work, it's your savior."

11. Passports

"Two U.S. and two Canadian. My kids are U.S. and we [Lemieux's husband and business partner, Josh] are Canadian."

12. Sunglasses

"I have about 10 pairs of the same style of Warby Parkers -- 'Thatcher' in revolver black matte. You always lose your sunglasses and I can order them anywhere."

13. Business cards in a monogrammed Goyard case

"I always meet fascinating people on planes and in airports."

14. Band-Aids

"Kids always need them."

15. MacBook Air (and iPhone)

"This is how I watch everything -- from old movies to TV series. I will download every episode and watch them back to back. I did five seasons of The Wire on my last trip to Asia. I also work, now that you can get Wi-Fi on most flights.

16. The latest book I'm reading (not pictured -- A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway)

"Especially important for the time between takeoff and when you can start using electronic devices, or when you get that bad plane with no in-flight entertainment. It happened to me once on the way to San Francisco from New York. I had to read every word of the in-flight magazine -- twice. Never again."