Welcome to the T+L Carry-On, where we take a look inside the luggage of jetsetters—and gain a few expert tips along the way.

By Adeline Duff
January 27, 2017
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T + L Carry On with Kat Graham
Credit: Kira Turnbull

This week, we caught up with singer and actress Kat Graham at the WestHouse Hotel New York (which, coincidentally, was named one of our World's Best Hotels in New York City last year). Graham, who stars as Bonnie Bennett on The CW hit drama The Vampire Diaries, typically finds herself traveling at least twice a week.

We sat down and talked all things travel—including her signature airport style, game changing piece of luggage, and favorite hotels for when she's jetting off to Europe. Plus, don't forget to read last week's column with television host Adam Richman, and look out for Graham's newest album, LOVE MUSIC FUNK MAGIC, which debuts March 31.

On Her Relationship With Travel

“I’m from Switzerland but was raised in California, and then went back and forth—and most of my family’s in Israel, so between that, The Vampire Diaries, and my music, I’m on a plane about twice a week. This week I was on a plane four times. My dogs always travel with me—they have backpacks and pouches, but most of the time I carry them in a little Sherpa bag that has wheels. If you see a short girl running through the airport wheeling my mutts, you know it’s me.”

T + L Carry On with Kat Graham
Credit: Kira Turnbull

Her Go-to Airport Style

“I feel like I meet a lot of great people at the airport, even people who don’t know what I do or anything. So, I’m somebody who likes to dress well for travel. Especially if I'm going to Europe. In America we could do a little bit better with our airport couture. You just never know; you might meet your husband on the plane!

My go-to airport style is usually a big hat, coat, and boots. People say I look like Spy vs. Spy at the airport—they’ll be like, 'Is that your normal style? Do you really wear that?' And I’ll be like, 'Yes, I really wear this.' I also never leave the house without my Foster Grant Item 8 sunglasses. You really can’t travel without sunglasses.”

The Best Experience She’s Had While Traveling

“My favorite experience I’ve ever had while traveling was when I was on tour with the Black Eyed Peas, and we were doing a country a day. We weren’t supposed to leave our group in Ethiopia, but I found out that there was an orphanage that was in a burned down church. To be able to go to all these different countries because of what I do is great, but what you do when you get there is just as important. I went to volunteer with the wardrobe assistant on the tour and we got in a cab and went down there, and I think Fergie had heard that I went there, so she went down the next day. But I got a talking to. They were like, 'You can’t just leave! If you’re going to leave, go with security!'"

Her Carry-on Essentials

“I always travel with a my Sony RX100 camera, a portable steamer, my diary, and tons of blue pens because I only write in blue ink. Also: Tide To Go, flip flops, Happy Plugs Earbuds, and Throat Coat tea. I always bring a scarf to wrap my hair with. I have to travel with a Mophie case—actually, usually two, with one that’s already charged.”

T + L Carry On with Kat Graham
Credit: Kira Turnbull

Her Global Charity Work

I try to do as much of my charity work when I travel. A few years ago when I was in Israel, I was doing work with the UNHCR and was able to go to Jordan. ’m working with Empower54 now, and they’re all of Africa, so I plan on traveling there again very, very soon. Travel is great for being fabulous and all of that, but it’s also a great time to really get to know the culture from the ground up.

I love going to the favelas in Brazil. I met some really cool kids from the city out there who were in a drum group—it helps them stay out of trouble. So I brought them to this convention I was there for (for The Vampire Diaries), and I literally paid them like hired musicians. They came on a couple of buses and at the end of the convention they started playing, and I was bawling, like, “This is so amazing!” Just being able to immerse yourself in the culture—that’s my favorite part about traveling. Travel is one of the only opportunities I have to see what a country or community needs and since I’m physically there I can actually help, as opposed to reading about it online and not really knowing the situation.”

The Luggage She Always Travels With

“I’m obsessed with my Montroi backpack because you can actually put it on your carry-on—you just slip it through. It’s genius, and it’s real Italian leather. This is one thing I feel like people aren’t aware of: I’ve never seen anybody with a backpack like this. They’re ridiculously amazing and are the perfect size.”

T + L Carry On with Kat Graham
Credit: Kira Turnbull

Her Beauty Staples

Her Favorite Hotels

“I just went to Positano and Sorrento in Italy. There’s an amazing place called Don Alfonso 1890—it has multiple Michelin stars. The family has their own farm, grows their own food and makes their own limoncello—they all work together. And they have a wine cellar that dates back to the 19th century. It’s pretty amazing. It’s on the coast of Italy, and you can stay there. That’s probably one of my favorite hotels I’ve ever been to, but you’ll want to save some cash before you go. That was my treat.

If you’re going to Cannes for the film festivals, there’s a really amazing hotel I love called Tiara Yaktsa Cannes, which is about 20 minutes outside of the Cannes strip. I would stay there over and over again. It’s stupid amazing. When you stay in Cannes, by the time you decide to go—for me, at least—most of the hotels are way booked out, and I also want to feel like I’m on vacation. I don’t want to be around a bunch of bustling photographers. Being 15-20 minutes outside from all the chaos and to have the view and serenity and peace that the property offers; it made me really able to focus, and I got so much more done.”