Following the birth of her baby boy Locki in January this year, four-time British Winter Olympian and our brand ambassador Chemmy Alcott has long gone back to her demanding work duties. Juggling between sleepless nights, her work as a ski race coach and TV presenter, as well as a hectic travel schedule, Chemmy is as energetic and unstoppable as ever as her life begins a new chapter. Columbus Direct has had the delightful opportunity to talk to Chemmy about her travel experience in general and how she is meeting the intensive travel requirements of her work as well as the relentless demands of being a first-time mother.
Do you enjoy travelling? Are you still travelling a lot these days?
I love getting on an aeroplane, and am always excited to travel to different countries. As there's not enough snow in Britain for us to base in, we’re not at home very much and are on the road all the time. I probably spend 80% of my life travelling due to the nature of my work. Locki was born on the 13th January and he has already been to seven countries! I‘ve always enjoyed my journey and I think that’s really important for people like us who are constantly chasing the snow round the world.
Even though we have just had the baby in January, we have a really intensive travel schedule this season. Our last day off was probably somewhere around 20 Jan. In fact, we are probably doing even more travelling these days. When you are an athlete, you have to have rest days, but when you are a ski race coach, you don’t!
What do you like most about travelling?
There is some simplistic beauty about getting on a plane, knowing that no one can contact you for 12 hours, and that there’s just you and the chick flicks because I use the time on the plane to watch chick flicks!
What kind of holiday do you enjoy the most, apart from skiing obviously?
We are not very good at lying on the beach doing nothing! It’s always about adventure for us and we try to go to different places for our summer holidays. We love good surfing locations because both Dougie (Chemmy’s husband) and I like surfing and our best friends are surfers. This year we are going to go to Fiji. We like culture as well, so if we could combine a city trip with a surf holiday, that would be a dream.
How many countries have you been to in the world already?
We’ve been to so many places I’ve honestly lost count of that! Many of our friends have given us a scratch map where we can scratch off the places we’ve been to, but we are no longer up to date with that map anymore!
What are your top three favourite destinations for private holidays?
I love being in Chile. We always fly down in the summer which is their winter time. The sunrise and the sunset are just epic! We love Maui as well, and my best friend lives there. I also love a little trip to Paris, and I went there with Dougie on one of our first dates. I love the culture, the food and as I speak pretty good French, I like going somewhere where I feel more like a local rather than a tourist.
Are there places where you haven’t been to before and would love to visit?
Oh lots of them! I really would love to go to Cuba as I love colours as well as Oman. For skiing, we want to visit Japan and we will try to do that next year when travelling to the 2018 Winter Olympics for work in South Korea.
As you travel so much, do you have any tips on how people can sleep or rest better on flights?
I try to get into the time zone of where I am going whenever I can – if I have to do last minute packing, I either stay up late to do it or do it early in the morning. Make sure that you have lots of hydration before flying and don’t get stuck in the seat for too long. It’s much better to walk up and down the plane and to stretch if you can to help your body recover quickly. I always wear an eye mask and ear plugs. I have the best eye mask in the world which blacks out everything. It looks pretty stupid but I don’t really care as long as I get some sleep!
I would also recommend compression stockings for deep vein thrombosis. Since I have a metal spike in my leg, I have to be extra careful with that. Personally I don’t think it’s a good idea to take sleeping pills on a flight because it can be really hard to get out of the doziness. When you arrive in your destination, you want to feel excited, and if I take a sleeping pill all I want to do is to sleep!
How can travellers get themselves feeling well rested and fit again, especially after a long flight?
Use the sun to fight the jetlag and to get your energy from, and try to go to bed at the local time. When we go to New Zealand and arrive in the morning, we have to force ourselves to stay awake, but we’re probably like zombies from 7pm onwards! You just have to try to get into the time zone. When the sun rises, go out and be active. The fresher the air you breathe, the easier and faster it will be for you to adjust to the new environment.
Are you a light traveller or do you tend to take more than you need for all eventualities?
We have to carry a lot of skiing equipment for our athletes, so it’s more about what they need. I went to New Zealand last year with just two pairs of trousers and that’s fine because you only need to wear one and wash one. Now that we have got a baby, the packing compartment for myself is getting even smaller!
What are your personal tips for packing luggage?
I put everything that I might want to take with me on a spare bed one week before I travel and I go through all the things I’ve taken out when I pack my luggage. If you pack everything in one go, you tend to pack way too much, and I call that ‘panic packing’. You end up taking up your whole wardrobe with you because you haven’t got time to think about what you’ll wear or won’t wear. That’s why I have my own technique which helps me narrow down what I need.
For sport enthusiasts, how can they maintain a balanced diet when travelling?
When you are travelling and going through different time zones, you can use sugar in a detrimental way to give yourself energy. Some people might rely on coffee or Coke to keep themselves awake. It’s important to maintain your neutral nutritional values, so fruits could be a good option. I especially like chocolate rice cakes when I am on the go. It’s like a treat and the snack fills you up but it’s not a big meal. Those made of wholemeal can help sustain your energy a little better as well. It’s key to try to adjust your meal times to the time zone you are in so you can trick your body and your brain to fast forward the recovery process.
If you could only take 3 things with you when travelling, what would these be?
I would take my family. Travel is all about whom you are with and your company. It doesn’t always matter where you are going as long as you are sharing that experience with someone that you care about.
The second thing would be a GoPro camera. I do so much in life within a short time span and sometimes I worry that I may forget the experiences I make, so I always make sure to take lots of photos and videos.
The third thing would be insurance in general. It’s really important to know that you are covered. Life is about experiences and challenging yourself as well as being able to say yes to things. If you know at the back of your mind that you are insured, you can enjoy that process a lot more when you are travelling.
Has becoming a mother impacted on your travelling schedule?
It should have, but so far we are trying to do it all. It’s not very sustainable but we are trying. It’s tough because it’s quite difficult to source nannies in New Zealand, or Fiji, when we travel there, but we made a pact to ourselves that we would keep following our passion if we become parents. Locki would be a happier little boy if he knows his parents are happy and doing everything they want to do. He also experiences so much from this as well. At nine weeks, he is already so advanced since he gets to meet so many different people and listen to so many different languages. He has been on a plane probably more time this year than most people travel in the entire year. For me, being a parent is not about adapting who you are, but enhancing who you are.
How are you adjusting to all the changes in your life with the arrival of the new family member?
We are really enjoying parenthood. We make mistakes of course, but we are learning from them. It’s exhausting as well, we’ve definitely got lots of wrinkles and bags under our eyes! But I really enjoy where we are, and because of that you are able to push yourself to many extremes. I know a lot of people would choose to be on maternity leave, but I didn’t have that because of the nature of our work. I was filming and skiing two weeks after giving birth and this is just what I need to do.
With Easter coming up, will you be travelling somewhere with your family?
Many of our family members in Scotland haven’t seen Locki yet, so we will be heading home for Easter.