Look up Li-Chi Pan on Instagram and you’ll be greeted with a charming grid of high-contrast, colourful photos – some impeccably styled, others a combination of candid timing and sheer photogenic abilities on her part.
Li-Chi was born and raised in South Africa before moving to Australia, where she is now known as one of the most influential bloggers – half a million followers on Instagram will give you some idea why. With skills in photography and digital strategy, she runs her own blog and has also worked with leading brands in fashion and travel.
It all makes Li-Chi a busy bee, but we managed to catch her before yet another one of her work trips overseas to find out what kind of traveller she is.
What’s on top of your travel bucket list?
Marrakech, Iceland and Santorini.
Where do you travel to most often?
I travel to South Africa the most as it’s where I was born and raised. My family and friends are all still based back home. I try to visit twice a year from Australia.
Where are you travelling next?
I’ll be heading to Tokyo for a collaboration with Hermés.
How much research do you do before a trip? Do you look things up or rely on personal recommendations?
I love asking my followers for recommendations but I do lots of research before travelling to any city. My style is a combination of spontaneity with a few ‘must-visits.’ I also love using the save feature on Instagram and will create a moodboard of the city I’m visiting.
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Do you believe in itineraries or do you go with the flow?
Half-half! I love getting to a new city and not knowing what quite to expect. Often when I don’t over plan I tend to run into hidden gems! Often when you have a set itinerary and have an idea of what you want to see you can feel somewhat let down when it doesn’t live up to your expectations. It’s important to be spontaneous and embrace new experiences.
Do you prefer travelling alone, with a travel buddy or in a group?
I prefer travelling with a buddy as you can build memories of a new place with someone meaningful. I enjoy travelling with my family or close friends.
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What are some things you always pack in your carry-on?
A gel face mask to keep my skin dewy and hydrated – I use Neutrogena Hydroboost Hydrogel Mask. Also, I pack a rosewater balancing mist from Jurlique, Sisley Rose Skin Infusion Skin (cream) and a lip balm.
What are three things you’ll never leave home without?
My phone, laptop and camera.
What’s your packing strategy?
I like to pack light. I roll my clothing and try to bring items I can mix and match. I like to leave space for items I might buy or pick up during my travels. I’m using a Samsonite luggage bag at the moment and love how large the double compartments are.
What are your tips for getting through the airport quickly and efficiently?
Bring a pen in your bag to fill out any forms. I like to use a travel wallet to carry all my important documents in one place. It’s important to do your research before visiting any country and ensure you have the correct visa requirements for your passport.
How do you spend your time in airports?
I signed up for an AMEX Explorer card and use it for access to lounges abroad. Otherwise, I love looking around for presents/food I can buy for friends and family.
Any long-haul flight advice? How do you pass the time?
I read and catch up on the latest movies I’ve missed. I also bring my laptop and try to get some work done if I get the chance.
Any travel apps or gadgets you rely on when travelling?
Downloading offline maps helps me to get around.
What’s your favourite airline and why?
I love Emirates and Cathay Pacific. The service, quality of food and attention to detail is incredible.
Do you have a favourite airport?
Tokyo Haneda and Dubai! The shopping and food is amazing.
Aisle or window?
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Exploring & shopping
What’s the first thing you do when you land in a new destination?
I get a SIM card and exchange my foreign currency! Always good to travel with cash and have a sim card with data for Google Maps.
What’s one place you’ll never tire of?
South Africa, my hometown.
What’s the best souvenir you’ve ever bought?
A vintage Canon camera from a thrift shop.
What’s your shopping philosophy when you travel?
I tend to buy gifts on the last day or at the airport so that it doesn’t make my luggage to heavy. Lugging around something heavy can get quite tiresome. I don’t shop a lot while travelling as I prefer to spend my money on food, cultural experiences or activities.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten in your travels?
I got to try Kaiseki (kaiseki-ryori), a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. The term also refers to the collection of skills and techniques that allow the preparation of such meals.
What’s your favourite foodie destination?
Tokyo and Paris!
Time and distance not being a barrier, if you could spend a day travelling around the world for each meal, where would you go for…
Breakfast? Le Pain Quotidien Marais, Paris
Lunch? Yum Cha Langham Place, Hong Kong
Tea? Sketch, London
Dinner? Sukiyabashi Jiro, Tokyo
Drinks? Palmers and Co, Sydney