By Lindsey Campbell
October 14, 2015
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Since she debuted her signature line in 1985, fashion powerhouse Donna Karan has found inspiration in the people, art, and culture she’s come across while traveling. It's inspired her collections, as well as provided the impetus to launch the Urban Zen Foundation and to support local artisans in Haiti. It makes sense, then, that travel is weaved throughout her new memoir, My Journey.

The New York native sat down to talk travel tips, her love of Bali, and the item she never leaves home without.

How has travel influenced your life?

I've always been inspired by the environment, by the colors, by the people, by what they wear. That’s why I like to travel to cultures that really have not been tainted. To me it’s always been about my senses, and what I sense.

It started in Bali—and I think my first trip to Bali really blew my mind and it’s become a love of mine.

How has travel influenced your designs? 

I traveled to Burma and Vietnam and Cambodia and I always came back with an idea. And not only did I come back with an idea but it also almost always influenced my campaigns that I photographed. In the many years of Donna Karan we would shoot our ad campaigns throughout the world.

Do you have a favorite place you’ve traveled to?

Bali is one of my favorite places in the world. I’m hard, I love India, I love Africa. And all the places I haven’t visit yet.

Where do you want to go next?

I’m starting with the “C’s”: Cuba, Columbia, ChinaI also really want to go to Papa New Guinea. I plan on going to Cuba and China this year.

What is your biggest travel pet peeve?

Globalization. I think the biggest pet peeve that I have is that too many places are starting to look all alike. I pull into a country and all I see is a McDonalds, when I want to see a country for its inspiration and its personality.

Do you have any clothing items you never travel without?

A scarf. You can wrap it around you and cuddle up with it, you can tie it.

What are your go to carry-on items?

A scarf, a sketchpad, my iPad and magazines. [Flying] is always a time that I can look at all my magazine I never get to see. 

Do you have any advice for novice travelers?

I think everyone should travel before college to get a sense of the world.


Lindsey Campbell is the Associate Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @lyndzicampbell.