landing page blog issy


Issy wants to see you trending

Published September 4th, 2019

It’s a hard life—being an instagram influencer, style icon AND travel agent. Needless to say Universal Traveller’s consultant Issy Thompson is one busy lady.

Arranging to chat over a coffee, I first ask Issy, ‘do you drink coffee?’, to which she responds, “of course, I'm not a psychopath!” and we’re off to a great start.

This quick wit and playful banter is what makes Issy such a natural at her job—it’s the genuine conversations she has with her clients, who over the years have become more like friends (who Whatsapp her on their travels).

As for her near 7,000 strong instagram following? She takes the same approach to creating content. “I think it’s really important to be authentic and just be yourself. I think people really like to see you being tongue-in-cheek and make fun of yourself,” she says.

“I think Instagram Stories really changed things—people can see what you’re really like as a person, a photo just doesn't say enough about who you are. I get most of my interaction through Stories these days. I rarely look through my feed anymore,” she adds.

As for her beautiful photos, Issy shoots on a Canon 760D but she also takes a lot of photos on her iPhone too. To edit she says, “using apps makes photos look so much better, I use different lightroom presets I've found through other travellers, people like @doyoutravel, and I also use VSCO for that vintage look.”

“I’m not afraid to use colour and throw in a pink sky or something every now and then. I used to spend time making three photos in a row match, but now I’m over that. I think they way Instagram works now, you’re missing a lot of posts, with the algorithms. People are time poor and you need to grab their attention,” she says.

As it turns out, when you love your job, have awesome work friends, and get to travel heaps for work as well as pleasure—being busy is actually just straight up fun.

It also helps being organised, and Issy takes things to the next level with her packing game.

When asked how she packs for maximum style with minimum luggage she confesses the following:

Step 1. I plan all my outfits [it sounds silly, she laughs] a month out. I’ll lay them all out, take photos of them and keep that folder on my phone for reference. It’s hard to not overpack if you don’t plan, you’ll just end up throwing in random t-shirts and things you might not even end up wearing.

Step 2. Take inspiration from bloggers and influencers who have been to that destination, I love @weworewhat and @Revolve for fashion inspo. And, from Pinterest—I’ll make a board for that destination and it will inspire the colours I pack, for example in Tulum, lots of whites and blues to match the landscapes tones. For Iceland I packed nudes and neutrals tones and red lipstick to stand out and make photos ‘pop’. It’s also important to research what’s appropriate to wear at your destination? for example, in Sri Lanka, it’s best to cover your shoulders.

Step 3. Always pack neutral colours and denim because it’s easy to mix and match. Jeans are so handy, you can wear them to death.

Step 4. Keep brightly coloured dresses and tops to a minimum—otherwise it can feel like you’re always wearing the same thing (and this shows in your photos too) Ultimately, black clothes travel best. A really good black leather jacket is a great staple. Camel or white jackets get dirty quickly.

Step 5. My biggest tip is to always pack your make-up and one other outfit in your carry on for emergencies. When I went to Iceland my luggage got lost and only had the outfit I was wearing. I had to wear the same thing for three days (it was the worst!) Always travel in a cool basic outfit that you can then mix and match with if the worst happens!

“The whole point of being prepared is not having to spend lots of time getting ready when you’re on holiday,'' she explains. “Always have your sunglasses, and a good lipstick makes you feel done up when you’re not,” Her faves? MAC in ‘Lady Danger’ and Too Faced Melted Matte in ‘Sell Out’. As for hair? “I put in braids for beach destinations,” she says.

Next we delve into beauty on board “I’ll do a sheet face mask when I fly (don’t worry about looking silly), and I take on board my Drunk Elephant Eye Cream, Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Moisturiser, Mario Badescu Facial Spray and Aesop Resurrection Hand Balm. And, I’ve been trying not to drink onboard either (it’s so bad for you), instead, just drink lots and lots of water and your skin (and liver) will thank you,” she says. 

Not only does Issy have your travel and beauty trends sorted, she can also pick the next hottest destination.

Sicily. “A lot of people haven’t realised how beautiful it is. They also don’t realise how easy it can be to get to—I think people go for the classic Italian spots and leave it off because they think it’s out of the way. However, I’ve noticed it’s coming up more and more on itineraries, and I’ve noticed a couple of tour companies are adding it their Italy repertoire. There’s really cool stays by the water and amazing food,” she says.

Is this thing on? For the record, Issy would like to clear up a few common misconceptions about travel consultants:

“People think we can only book flights. Omg no! We can book literally anything and everything. I even book my clients lunch and dinner reservations for their trips!” she says.

Another misconception: It’s cheaper to book online than with a travel consultant. Also not the case. Issy explains “We have access to a huge range of incredible youth fares, which you just can’t find online. We are also trained in customising round the world airfares, again this can’t always be done online, and the multi stop tickets are the best value for money, who wouldn’t want to go to LA, New York, London and Hong Kong for $1800?!” 

More #issygold [out-takes]

On thongs: “I never wear thongs—not even at the beach”, so, ‘what do you wear’, we ask? “I know, it’s so ridiculous, but I wear a little Tony Bianco mule. I just hate thongs. I find them so ugly—they should be illegal. My boyfriend sometimes wears them and ‘I’m like, take them off!’ wear Birkenstocks at least.”

The fashion police have spoken.

Lastly, she did give some handy tips on appropriate footwear for travel. “Invest in a good quality boot, especially for the winter months in Europe, your feet will freeze if you don’t. For sneakers, I'll always pack my white Superga platforms,” she says.

If you’re looking for general life / fashion and of course travel advice—speak to Issy and don’t forget to give her (and us) a follow @isabellathompson and @universaltravellerau. And check out our DEALS page to find out more about our latest flights, tours and more!

Issy’s A-Z travel list… 22 countries and counting:

New Zealand
Sri Lanka

Rachel Surgeoner

A self-confessed 'food-tourist', I take hunting for the world's greatest sandwich very seriously, my quest has taken me from Berlin to Hoboken. Stopping off only for vintage shopping, craft beers and Mediterranean sunsets.