Jane Lerman Shares the Travel Nightmare That Made Her Fall in Love With Marrakech
The travel PR guru bares all her travel secrets, plus a guide to the mysteries of Marrakech.
Jane Lerman might not be a household name (yet) but the brands she represents are. The travel PR maven launched her company L.E.R. in 2008 and has had the opportunity to work with global hotel brands and emerging designers since then. One of her recent highlights has been working with Brooklyn-based Tanner Fletcher, a unisex clothing label she introduced at NYFW a year ago and is now worn by A-listers, including Bad Bunny on the cover of TIME Magazine.
“It is also a great privilege for me to get to represent global brands that I have long admired as thought leaders in their respective fields,” says Jane. Those have included the likes of Gramercy Park Hotel, La Maison Valmont, LG, Yves Rocher, and more.
In addition to founding and running L.E.R., she’s the creative director of the handbag label BLACKSEA.
“Travel influences every part of my work,” she says. “The best ideas have always come to me during my travels, and I am eternally inspired by the people and places I encounter overseas. Living and working in the US can feel like you’re in a bubble if you don’t get out enough. Travel has always helped me get off the daily hamster wheel and reassess everything I’m doing from an objective point of view. It has inspired me to create a company that prioritizes team culture and an environment conducive to fostering work/life balance, which has led to a much more positive workspace for everyone on the team, and that translates to the work we do and how happy our clients ultimately are.”
But of course, travel isn’t just about work. “Traveling with friends has allowed me to create the memories of a lifetime and helped me form the kind of life-long bonds that I probably would have never been able to develop locally. Traveling with my husband allows us to step out of the day-to-day and spend time together living in the moment, while also dreaming big for the future. I make it a point to take at least 2 international trips a year to avoid getting stagnant and feeling like I’ve plateaued.”
Below, Jane shares her favorite discoveries from around the world, including the travel superstition I think we should all adopt.
Do you have a suitcase or bag you love?
Yes, I love my Away Expandable Bigger Carry-on, which is the biggest carry-on you could possibly have—every inch counts when you’re trying to travel without checked bags. I also love my Crash Baggage large checked bag—the looks it gets when coming down the conveyor belt are priceless. Last but not least, I love my hip/shoulder pack and foldable backpack from LOJEL’s “Slash Series” Collection. They’re made of ultra-durable Tyvek material and are waterproof, stain resistant, and super lightweight, making them ideal for taking with me as extra storage or wearing on a day of travel for easy access to the essentials.
What’s the one thing that’s always in your carry-on?
My laptop. Even when I travel for pleasure, I’m never not working. Flight time is often my most productive time.
What’s your go-to travel uniform?
Black joggers and a black knit sweater, and clean pair of sneakers. I was recently introduced to GOBI, so I’ve elevated this uniform with super soft and lightweight cashmere. It feels like pajamas but still looks chic. Plus, I’m accident prone and there’s usually a 90% chance that I’ll spill something on myself mid-trip, so sticking to all black gives me some peace of mind that if I do, I don’t have to worry too much about it.
Any specific toiletries or beauty products you always travel with?
L’Elixir des Glaciers eye cream by La Maison Valmont helps remove eye puffiness and makes me feel/look more alive when I’m dealing with jetlag.
SABON Rose Water in Oil Face Mist is a recent obsession. It’s a certified organic two-phase mist of Damask rose water infused with Dead Sea minerals and botanical oils that’s the perfect way to freshen up after a long flight or when battling jetlag.
Yves Rocher nutrition shampoo bar, because you never know what kind of hair products you’ll get in your hotel when traveling and foreign water can sometimes wreak havoc on my hair (plus this bar is eco-friendly and is equal to as many washes as a large regular bottle of shampoo but in a fraction of the size).
Skukuza Airport in Kruger National Park, South Africa. It’s like a luxury boutique resort, not an airport—I wish all airports could be like this one. [Editor’s note: I agree, and I’ve actually written an article about this airport for Fodor’s Travel]
Most luxurious in-flight experience?
Flying La Compagnie from New York to Europe feels like you’re flying private but the airfare is less than most traditional business class flights if you book with a little lead time. Makes travel to Europe a breeze and an A+ experience every step of the way.
Least luxurious trip you’ve ever been on?
Road-tripping through New Zealand in a Winnebago. We slept in the RV and stopped in hostels to shower along the route, but it was one of the most memorable and incredible experiences of my life. I got to skydive and bungee jump from one of the highest bungees in the world, so it was a life-changing experience that gave me the courage to do a lot of the things career-wise I’ve gotten to do in life.
Most luxurious trip you’ve ever been on?
A New Year’s trip to Malaysia with a group of friends who organized the most over-the-top week, including boating and jet skiing to explore the nearby islands, private buyouts of numerous restaurants, and a private box at the main New Year’s Eve street celebration and concert in Kuala Lumpur.
Most adventurous thing you’ve ever done while traveling?
Skydiving and bungee jumping in New Zealand! Also scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef—it really feels like the closest one could come on earth to feeling like you’ve gone to outer space. Truly otherworldly.
Do you have a good story about the kindness of strangers when traveling?
I am always amazed at the warmth and kindness of people I meet. One story that comes to mind was a trip I took in the off-season to Sardinia. I was with two girlfriends on the beach when a cute dog ran up to us. After we spent a half hour playing catch with it, the dog’s owner (a very sweet older man who didn’t speak a word of English) invited us into his house, which was directly in front of the beach, for pasta. Pretty much anywhere else in the world, we would never feel safe enough to say yes, but in that moment and in this small town, it felt totally safe. Without speaking more than three words of each other’s language, we ended the day with a delightful evening enjoying a delicious (and huge) pasta meal that he cooked for us. It was incredible to see a complete stranger spend so much time and care doing something so nice for three people he never knew and knew he would never see again. It was a moment that really reaffirmed my faith in humanity and made me realize just how important travel is and how essential it is to get out of your day-to-day grind to appreciate the little things in life.
What’s the best bar you’ve ever been to on your travels?
La Factoria in San Juan, PR.
What’s the weirdest/most surprisingly delicious food you’ve tried?
Springbok on safari in South Africa.
What’s the most incredible meal you’ve ever had?
A 13-course tasting menu at Alinea in Chicago by the amazing Chef Grant Achatz.
What’s the most underrated foodie destination?
Los Alamos, CA. It’s a tiny one-street town in the heart of Central Coast Wine Country in California and this one street is lined with world-class food options. From Bob’s Well Bread for the best avocado toast I probably ever had in my life, to an incredible dinner at Pico, I stumbled upon this town on a PCH road trip and was thoroughly impressed.
What’s your favorite kind of souvenir to bring home?
Home goods of any kind: pottery, ceramics, textiles, and art. So much of my home is filled with decor and objets d’art I purchased while traveling. I love having pieces that remind me of my travels around and have brought home things as big as carpets and as small as candle holders and bowls.
Villa Lena in Tuscany. This incredible hotel and artist residency is in the heart of Tuscany, just a short drive from San Gimignano. The design of the hotel is unassuming and unpretentious, but what makes this place special is the people. The artist residency brings in some of the most creative people from around the world, and I would never be bored living there, because I would be constantly meeting inspiring individuals.
Cala de Mar in Ixtapa Mexico. Every single room comes complete with a private plunge pool overlooking the ocean. Waking up here every day is a dream.
Where’s the best hotel pool in the world?
The pool at Garonga Safari Camp in South Africa. Few pool experiences can compare to being in a pool while watching elephants, giraffes, and rhinos walking by underneath as you look over the reserve.
Most luxurious hotel experience?
Amanyara in Turks and Caicos.
What’s your favorite under-the-radar hotel that people should know about?
Cas Gasi - this boutique hotel is located in the heart of Ibiza and set amidst an olive grove. It has become the preferred choice of many A-listers who come to the island because it is completely discreet and offers an amazing spa and legitimately farm-to-table restaurant - the farm is right there. You never have to leave the property but when you do want to venture out, it is also centrally located, making getting anywhere on the island super easy.
If you owned a hotel, where would it be and what would it be like?
South of France or the Amalfi Coast, because those are some of the most beautiful places in the world and I would love to spend a big part of my year in the Mediterranean. It would be set within a historic villa, with breathtaking views of the sea, and I would want guests to feel like they are staying with friends.
Where’s your favorite beach?
Praiano, Amalfi Coast.
Do you have a favorite warm-weather winter destination?
Isla Holbox, Mexico
Where’s the best place to visit in the summer?
Sicily. It’s way less overrun than most of Europe’s beachside destinations but offers some of the most incredible beaches.
Where do you like to spend the holidays?
Anywhere far away! The holidays are some of the only weeks of the year that I get to actually disconnect for a bit, so I like to take the time between Christmas and New Year’s for taking my biggest trips of the year. I’ve loved spending the holidays in Bali, Australia, Brazil, St. Barth’s, Colombia, and Morocco, in particular.
Is there anywhere that you like to visit over and over again?
Morocco, there is always something new to discover.
What destinations or travel experiences are at the top of your bucket list?
Japan. I was supposed to go in 2020 but the pandemic lockdowns paused that trip and I can’t wait to get it back on the calendar. Also, Antarctica, outer space…
Are there any places that you’re eager to return to?
Mexico City. I absolutely loved my time there and it’s a city I want to spend way more time in.
What websites/tools do you use to plan a trip?
Do you have any travel superstitions or pre-travel rituals?
Yes, it’s called “sit for the road”. Before every trip, once all the luggage is lined up by the door and our shoes are on, we (whoever is going on the trip with me) sit down for a few seconds altogether before heading out. It’s a weird (Eastern European?) superstition that my parents have always followed and it’s just stuck with me.
Favorite travel hack?
Invest in good luggage that is easy to organize and roomy (always a good idea to have extra space for bringing your favorite finds back), and keep a travel toiletry kit ready to go. Whenever I am packing toiletries from scratch, I inevitably always forget something. However, when I have a kit already pre-packed with all my essential travel items, I know I’ll have everything I need and I don’t have to worry last minute about whether my toothbrush or razor or deodorant made it into the bag.
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The Alibi Guide to Marrakech
Jane Lerman shares her favorite stops—and the travel disaster that almost ruined her trip—in this city full of hidden riads, secret passageways, and intoxicating markets.
Sometimes a travel snafu can lead to happy lifelong memories.
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