How I Travel: Queen Charlotte’s Arsema Thomas Listens to Otis Redding to Sleep on Planes

I lived in southern India doing an Ayurvedic apprenticeship, and that’s definitely one of the places that I would love to explore [again]. It’s so much of India in one place, I think. Southern Indian cuisine is so different than northern, which is a lot of what I get when I’m in London. It’s the birthplace of Ayurvedic medicine, a holistic, eastern outlook on medicine and healing. I was there because my dad had ALS, so we took him to a wellness center to experiment, and I found it so interesting. It also has a ton of stunning temples that are architectural feats. It’s a beautiful place. I did not get enough time there.

How she manages the lines at the airport gate:

I don’t like it when people start lining up to the gate early, because it always makes me feel like I should also line up. Then, because I’ve waited so long, I know that I’ll end up at the back of that line. I always want to make it seem as though I’m the smartest person in the room, like I know something that they don’t know, so I sit in defiance until the very last second. It always means that my carry-on is going to be checked. It’s like psychological warfare.

The two cities she could visit a million times and never tire of them:

Nairobi and Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Both have such amazing food and different pockets of life, making them these never-ending fields of discovery. Nairobi has such amazing markets and nightlife, amazing music. I’m clearly a big fan of music! I think that’s the number one thing that I enjoy when I travel somewhere—if I can dance and enjoy the country through my ears. Kenya has some of the greatest music coming out of eastern Africa, I think, and Nairobi is the beating heart of it.

The two most amazing hotels she’s ever experienced:

One is the Governor’s Camp Lodge, this amazing tented camp in the Masai Mara in northern Kenya. It’s stunning because usually, when you go on a safari, you are in a secluded area, and this allows you to be fully immersed with nature. You have zebras coming up to your room! It has a really great way of encompassing architecture with the natural surroundings so that it doesn’t disturb. It’s one of my favorite places. I love game drives and seeing animals; I think it’s such a blessing.

And then, I never got to stay here, but I got to tour it: Ian Fleming, the author of James Bond, had this estate in Jamaica, and it’s where Dr. No was filmed. It’s the most beautiful property I’ve ever seen. You can stay in it, but it costs an arm and a leg. I am a massive fan of James Bond—I grew up watching all of those films—so there was a nostalgia to it.

The hotel amenity she adores:

I love when a room comes with slippers. I’m going to take them every time. And I love a free breakfast with so many options. It’s just the perfect way to start your day, and always makes me feel like a queen. 

Where she’d like to go next:

I would love to travel throughout Brazil. My father used to live there and he would always rub it in my face, how amazing it was. Since he’s Nigerian, he told me about the Nigerian population taken there during the slave trade, and what that has manifested into now. It’s very different from any of the diasporic communities that I’ve been to, so that’s one of the main things that draws me there. I’ve also been in love with Brazilian music, Brazilian coffee. I love Carnival and the beaches and the movies that come out of there—City of God was one of my favorites—so I would love, love, love to be able to go to Brazil.