DFS PRESENTS: ZHAO LEI’S #MUSTPACK CAMPAIGN As one of the most recognizable faces in fashion today and a seasoned traveler, top model Zhao Lei opens up his personal travel journal and shares what he #MustPack for any destination. Since his international debut in Yang Fudong’s short film, “First Spring,” for Prada, the leading model has jetted to the pinnacle of the modeling world with covers on influential men’s magazines, from GQ to L’Officiel Hommes. In this exclusive interview with DFS, the frequent flyer shares his #MustPack essentials, how travel has influenced his career and where he wants to go next.
What does travel mean to you?
Travel to me means experiencing the world first hand. Whether I’m on the road or in the air, my favorite part of traveling is seeing the scenery and enjoying the journey.
When traveling, do you prefer to depart or arrive? I prefer the moment of arrival because it comes with a sense of unknowable surprise. Experiencing unfamiliarity of a city or of a natural landscape is a period of visual stimulation, together with a feeling of being moved by it all.
As an expert traveler, can you share five tips on traveling smart? 1. Always select your seats early, especially for long distance flights. It makes all the difference. 2. I like to schedule my trips to avoid wasting any time when I’m at my destination. 3. My itinerary always includes interesting lunch and dinner spots. Just avoid the tourist traps! 4. Pack an extra set of clothes just in case of unexpected weather condition. You just never know. 5. Don’t dress extravagantly. It’s always best to just keep it simple.
What’s the most inspiring journey you’ve taken? As a model, I have the opportunity to travel to some of the most exotic places around the world. Recently, I flew to Uruguay and it took us 30 hours to get there, yet the entire trip felt very short. Across five days, three were spent in the air and two days were on-set. The experience was unforgettable yet so simple. It was just us with a guitar, a few bottles of beer, a bonfire, the beach as our couch, the sea in our background and the starriest of nights. Six people each from a different country gathered by the bonfire, including a young British guy who sang along to his guitar. Despite being physically fatigued, I felt moved by being in the middle of nature. It was very touching to see the starry night sky in such a true, pure state. It’s not until you realize how miniscule humans are in comparison to the cosmos that you really respect the preciousness of each person.
What are some of the souvenirs you’ve brought back from your travels? I always bring back postcards and magnets. They're must-buys. I've also brought back a cowboy hat from Texas, a hand-made teapot from Uruguay, a Donald Duck figurine from Disneyland and a blanket printed with the city map of New York.
Where do you want to travel to next? My next dream travel destination is the South Pole. I really would like to experience a world of ice and snow because it must be such a pure and beautiful landscape with the blue sky, the ocean, white snow, and cute penguins.