All photos courtesy of Jen Ai Photography! Check her out!
What is your favorite memory from your recent NYC trip?
We saw and did a lot, including getting tickets to see Jimmy Fallon’s Monologue Rehearsal one day (which was great!), but my favorite was probably spending almost an entire morning at the 9/11 Memorial and touring the museum. I wept. I prayed. I felt horrified that that day had happened, but I was also simply enormously proud and thankful to be an American, something I realized I don’t express often. I do WISH that people were more honorable and respectful at the Memorial, though. It is essentially a large grave honoring those lives lost that day; it didn’t seem like the right occasion for a duck-faced selfie.
What made you want to travel to NYC?
Honestly, we felt like everyone has been to NYC, and both Tyler and I haven’t so we thought, “why not?” That and we realized that with all the travel miles my husband stacked up for work, we got plane tickets to and from NYC for $20. You can’t beat that.
Did you travel with your little ones?
Nope. No little men this time. Tyler and I make a conscious effort to do something with just the two of us every year. You can lose yourself in parenting. Once a baby is born, it’s easy for your marriage to become all about your kid(s). Our August trips, NYC included, are really an effort to ward against that. Our boys will one day be men, and I don’t want to find myself growing away from my spouse once we’re empty nesters. Our trips “re-glue” us together.
What was your favorite adventure in NYC?
Apart from spending time at the 9/11 Memorial, I loved reading and people watching at Bryant Park. I know it’s not a normal vacation thing to do when you’re in a metropolitan area, but I always bring my kindle and aim to find a place to park for a while, and get lost in some epic fiction.
Is there anything you would do differently next time?
I absolutely wish we had a few more days in NYC. There’s so much to do and so much to look at; our schedules were jam-packed. Next time, I want a chance to wander and get lost a bit.
Any advice about traveling to NYC?
Yelp definitely helped. We didn’t want to come to NYC with too many things already planned. We wanted to explore wherever we were, but when we realized we were hungry, Yelp easily led us to some great gems. However, if you type in “restaurants” in Midtown, you’ll be overwhelmed by the choices. Before you go, you should make a mental list of what type of food/places you definitely want to hit up. The top few on our list were pizza, genuine ramen, and to find a couple of small pubs for happy hour. Everyone’s got an opinion on pizza so take this with a grain of salt, but we really liked 2 Bros Pizza in Midtown. For ramen, we LOVED Jin Ramen in the Upper West Side; it was our favorite meal out of the entire trip. Lastly, you should definitely check out The Dead Poet pub in the UWS for happy hour and live music on Tuesdays.
How do you stay stylish while traveling?
The things I always get the most compliments on in regards to style are my accessories. I totally believe you can rock a simple outfit with awesome accessories. My go-tos are typically necklaces, earrings, and scarves tied different ways.
How long does it take you to pack? What are your essential items to pack for vacation?
I’m incredibly efficient, and I like to keep things as simple as possible, so maybe an hour? My most essential item is definitely an adhesive bra. I really don’t like it when bra straps are visible. A person’s style is more clean and classic without bra straps sticking out, so I always make sure I have an adhesive bra with me. (Target as a great one for less than $20 if you can ever find it in your size.)
What was your favorite vacation or trip? Why?
Hands down, Seattle in 2012. It was a really ordinary trip, and nothing that people would ooh & ahh about. Actually I specifically remember telling friends and family where we were going, they would ask, “Why?” The allure of colder weather and a slow-paced compared to Houston play a big part in our having such fond memories there. It was my husband’s and I first vacation since having our eldest son the year prior. We ate good food, explored the city, and everyday we found a local coffee shop or library where we could cozy up and read for a while.
How would you describe your style? Do the places you travel to influence your style at all?
Simple, classic, and fun. I think a white t-shirt and jeans go a long way if you know how to rock your hair, makeup, shoes, and accessories.
Who or what has inspired you to travel?
My husband, Tyler, for sure. We’ve been together since we were 17 (we’re 27 now) we’ve really done a lot of growing up together. The allure of traveling is due largely to the fact that I get to share that experience with him.
What travel advice do you have for others?
For the plane ride, I think everyone totally underestimates the helpfulness of checking your bag! I know there’s the possibility of it getting lost, and it may cost more, yada yada. But seriously, I can’t look cute and lug around several pounds of my junk everywhere, and airports and plane rides are stressful enough.
What is your advice for all the women out there who want to starting living their passions of traveling, but feel like they’re stuck?
Tips on how to budget travel, motivational quote that inspires you, etc. “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” – J.R.R. Tolkien; That being said, you make priorities. Traveling isn’t a priority of mine, but going on adventures with my family definitely is, whether that is traveling or going on a trip to the grocery store. You’ll make time for your priorities.
Do you have any upcoming travel plans?
As a family, we have a long-standing camping rendezvous in the Texas hill country near Garner State Park every June. Likewise every August, my husband and I know that we’re going somewhere for our anniversary, but we like taking our time fleshing out what the “where” is.
Who inspires you most to reach for your dreams and why?
My husband. He has encouraged and challenged me in the best and sometimes hardest way, and has done so longer than anyone else. Anything I dream up, whatever adventure I want to go on, I always mention it to him first because he gives me healthy doses of both encouragement and realism. He knows when I need to be nudged and encouraged to follow through with an action, and he knows when to keep me healthily grounded when I spend too long with my head in the clouds.