Russell Ong is a familiar face you may have seen on your television screens. Once a national swimmer who has won medals in the Southeast Asian Games, Ong has ventured into showbiz since making his debut in Channel 5 drama Lion Mums. The TV personality then hosted Luxe Asia 4, a television program showcasing some of Asia’s costliest destinations as well as the lifestyles of the region’s rich and famous.

As a host, he has indulged in ultra-luxurious travel experiences — namely getting onboard the new Train Suite Shiki-Shima in Japan (which can cost up to S$14,000), diving in a private ocean in the Maldives, and exploring exotic destinations such as the hills of Moganshan in China.

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Russell Ong (Image credit: @russong)

Besides travelling for work, Ong has also visited cities such as Munich, Vienna, Budapest and Prague — so he is definitely a seasoned traveller. We caught up with the TV personality last month and picked his brains on how to travel light, as well as his travel essentials.

Lifestyle Asia (LSA): How often do you travel?

Russell Ong (RO): “I’m currently splitting my time between Singapore and Shanghai, where I co-founded a Shanghai-based tech startup — so I travel about two to three weeks every month. This is especially so when I was filming for Luxe Asia 4, where I travelled to some of the most luxurious destinations in Asia”

LSA: What’s your go-to carry-on that you’ll take on every trip? 

RO: “My classic Louis Vuitton Keepall Bandoulière 45 is very versatile and can last a long time. I take it with me whenever I go on short trips.”

LSA: What are the items you need when you travel? 

RO: “The first thing I need is a good quality watch that will complement every occasion, whether I’m in a business suit for meetings or a kicking-back in a t-shirt and khakis while on holiday.”

“Secondly, a fragrance that represents you is essential. Personally, I like scents that are fruity but also manly. A cologne should be a subtle one that doesn’t immediately register — people should smell it subconsciously. Some of my favourites are Dior Sauvage and Versace Eros

“Lastly, a pair of premium sunglasses. I like my lenses handcrafted and well made, as your sunglasses are on your face and it’s one of the first things people will see. I love the California-based Oliver Peoples, as well as Dita — which offers edgy designer eyewear handcrafted in Japan.

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The MP-3 range from Oliver Peoples’ 30th Anniversary collection. (Image credit: Oliver Peoples)

LSA: What are your tips for packing light? 

RO: “I don’t overthink packing. I usually am able to pack without thinking of what to bring, because I have a list of essentials that I always take with me — such as my work laptop and financial materials. I just take the bare minimum. Whatever else I can buy there, such as extra clothes or toiletries, I wouldn’t worry about it. I think it takes the stress out of travelling for me.”

“And as shallow as it sounds, I care about how I look. People judge you based on first impressions, after all. So I try to bring things that are versatile, that I can use for many occasions. For example, I’ll have my loafers that I can use for a meeting but won’t look out of place in a club.”

LSA: What are your must-have apps when you travel? 

RO: “WeChat is one. The people in Shanghai don’t use Whatsapp, so I needed to download WeChat for work. It’s so advanced here (in Shanghai) that you can do everything through WeChat. Just the other day, I was walking when someone was selling roses that you can buy using a QR code. It’s amazing. In fact, people don’t even use business cards in Shanghai, we just exchange QR codes.”

“And then there’s Giddy, the Chinese version of Uber.”

“Lastly, Spotify. I really need music when I travel. Whenever I’m on a flight, I don’t watch movies or tune in to the airlines’ music selection. So I always need Spotify with me when I travel. I’m subscribed to Spotify Premium so I can just plug my Apple Earpods in and listen to my own playlists on the plane or when I’m working out in the gym.”

LSA: What are you currently listening to, then? 

“I like mellow remixes of current hits or relaxed lounge music. I’m currently listening to the Chill Hits playlist on Spotify, which helps me calm down when I’m winding down after work or events.”

(All other images credited to Russell Ong

Dewi Nurjuwita
Senior Writer
Dewi Nurjuwita is a travel and design writer who can be found exploring the streets of foreign cities with passport in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.