You may recognise the name Natalya Zahkarova, but chances are you won’t recognise her face. That’s because she (or should we say the back of her head) is the star of the FollowMeTo series of images, which gained Instagram stardom a couple of years ago. Previously a sports journalist, Natalya soon became the focus of her photographer husband Murad Osmann’s images; now the couple from Russia travel the world taking stunning images featuring Natalya holding her husband’s hand – and always immaculately dressed – in iconic locations around the world. All of the images are posted on Murad’s Instagram account, which now has over 4.6 million followers.
On Natalya’s own social media she also posts images of her travels to exotic locations showing off her style choices. Natalya’s outfits are always matched perfectly to the location she is travelling to and she always looks flawless no matter what the destination, but surely she must have to pack so much in order to make sure she gets that perfect look? We asked her for the secrets of her suitcase.
What’s the one item you could never travel without?
My phone charger. For me it’s very important to be informed about what’s happening in the world, check the map, connect with the locals or write to my close ones. My phone is my life!
How much luggage do you usually take on a week’s trip?
It’s Murad’s [her husband] favourite topic to rant about, as he carries my luggage! At the very least, two suitcases accompany me everywhere. Even if we go on a small trip for a few days, I always pack a ton of stuff, as you never know what the weather will be like, what places you’ll visit and which clothes will go well with them. That’s why I always try to take several options for each location.
You always match your outfits so well to the location you are in – is this something you have always been able to do or have you got better at it the more you travel?
I always loved fashion and was interested about it, but there is no limit to perfection. I get inspired by people and countries we’re visiting, I’m trying to take something from each culture and express it in my outfits.
You take a lot with you – what are you top tips for packing in the most economical way?
First of all, you have to make a list of all the things you want to take and consider the weather condition of the city you’re heading to. Secondly, heavy things should be packed as an equal layer at the bottom of the suitcase, while maintaining balance. At the very top, you should put dresses, suits, which you should pack into a garment bag - this will help maintain its form and prevent wrinkles. Thirdly, I really like taking travel sized cosmetics, they take up less space and reduce the luggage’s weight.
What kind of luggage do you take?
When it comes to a suitcase it’s important for it to be sturdy and minimalistic. My personal choice is Tumi 19 degree aluminum. I also try not to take hand luggage, aside from my travel size makeup kit, a sleeping mask, a book and a player with my favourite music.
Where is your favourite place to travel to?
We really loved Cambodia, we’ve been there several times and even spent New Year’s Eve there with our friends. It was one of the most unusual celebrations – it was quite modest, as the real magic happened later. We woke up really early on January 1st to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat. You feel something special there – I recommend it to everyone!
How do you manage to feel comfortable but look stylish at the same time?
I often leave the house early in the morning and don’t have the time to go back and change my outfit, so I try to wear clothes that can be easily transformed into evening attire. Even a simple outfit can be changed into a stylish look by adding a little colour. It can be red lipstick, bright shoes or massive jewellery. The most important thing is to feel comfortable and confident, if your outfit helps you in that, you’ll look great!
What is the one piece you’ll be buying to travel with for summer 2017?
I’ll pick sunglasses, as there’s lots of sunlight in summer, which can harm eyes, if they’re not protected. Especially considering that we’ll travel to sunny Mauritius and mysterious Tibet, where, despite the monsoon season, the sun is shining bright. I will also visit Paris, where sunglasses will not only protect from the sun, but also accentuate a stylish outfit.
What do you wear to the airport?
My favourite and desirably long worn out sneakers and a sports outfit. I would recommend wearing a long sleeved sweatshirt, as it gets cold on airplanes due to the height. And, by the way, guessing the temperature correctly prior to landing is next to impossible.