Karen Polle is hard to catch in a jump-off, but when it comes to her international travel schedule, she’s equally difficult to pin down. The New York-based Polle spent her spring and summer in Europe, North America, and Asia, where she visits family in Japan two or three times a year.

No matter how many places Polle happens to be, however, and for how long, if she’s on a horse, there’s a good chance she’s winning classes—as she did last month with Little Lord in the $35,000 1.45m CSI3* Speed Stake at Tryon, and this summer with her major victory at Spruce Meadows in the 1.55m Progress Energy Cup CSI5* with longtime partner, With Wings.

With valuable miles—both figurative and literal—now under the belt of her steadily expanding string, Polle looks poised to take on the 2018 winter circuit in a big way. On a rare break from the road, Karen shared her travel diary with NF Style.

NF Style: Can you describe your typical travel schedule during the year?

Karen Polle: I always spend the winter in Florida at WEF. Now that I’ve graduated from Yale, I can finally stay in one place during the winter instead of flying back and forth to Connecticut [for school] every week. This year, after WEF, my horses shipped to Belgium in early April. I went to Japan for about one week and then met them there.

From April through August, I was based in Belgium, except for five weeks when I went to Calgary for Spruce Meadows. This year, I had the opportunity to show in some really amazing places, including Versailles, La Baule, Rome, London, and Dublin. After the Calgary Masters (beginning of September), my horses returned to Connecticut for a break. I traveled to Stockholm for four days to attend a Rolex Young Riders Academy session. Then, we showed in Tryon for two weeks, and [then I was] in Kentucky for the National Horse Show.

Do you prefer to check your luggage or carry-on?

Carry on, but I usually have too much stuff and have to check bags.

What’s your luggage brand of choice?

Doesn’t really matter to me!

What about travel shoes?

Nike sneakers.

What are three items you always have with you on the airplane?

  1. Lots of snacks, ALWAYS.
  2. Water.
  3. A book.

Do you have any secrets for staying rested or waking up refreshed at your destination?

I try to sleep as much as I can. This used to be very difficult for me but as I’ve gotten more accustomed to traveling, I have an easier time sleeping on planes. I’ve found that wearing an eye mask helps. I also drink lots of water.

What special travel-sized products do you never leave home without?

Sunscreen and moisturizer.

Do you prefer to read, watch movies, or something else on an airplane?

Watch movies.

What’s the worst travel experience you’ve ever had?

One time, we went on a family vacation in the Caribbean, and our bags didn’t make it. We were told that they might be coming on the next flight, but when we went to the airport to check, they hadn’t arrived. This was not good since most of our clothes were in our checked bags. At this point in the day, there weren’t very many stores open, so we had to buy really overpriced matching T-shirts for the whole family at the store in the hotel and wear them the next day until our bags arrived in the afternoon. To make matters worse, one of the bags and all of the clothing inside of it was wet when we got it. We hoped it was just water…

Do you have a favorite airport? 


Narita Airport because it means I’m in Japan!

Is there any place you travel to regularly that feel like your home away from home? 

Tokyo. I have lots of family there and I also just love being in Japan.

-Photo credits: feature image Tori Repole; Tokyo /\ltus via flickr.com.