Ever since I was little, I have always loved going places. Whether it was somewhere local, or somewhere far away; it made no difference. I was curious about traveling outside of what I knew.
The first time I went to Europe, I was leaving for a semester abroad in Florence, Italy. I can’t remember an ounce of fear or hesitation… I knew I wanted to go before I had taken the opportunity. The moment I stepped on the plane for Italy, I loved it. I instantly fell in love with long distance plane travel – it was such a different experience than domestic flights. A moment I’ll never forget, is when I looked out my window while most of the cabin was asleep, and seeing the big dipper the brightest and closest I had ever seen it. It was dreamlike to lift the window shade and suddenly be immersed in the stars.
Fast forward to today, and I am still in love with traveling. I obsessively peer out of the window to see the stars on overnight flights (a window seat is a must). I feel lucky to be able to travel as much as I do. Not only to see the stars but to see new places and experience new things.
Of course, there are a few not so fun things that can happen when you travel, but I’ve learned to just have a relaxed mindset about things. You can’t get too stressed when things are out of your power- to me, that is the key to happy travel. However, here are some of my favorite tips to travel smarter!
I only travel with carry-on luggage. It alleviates the possibility of your luggage being lost, it forces you to pack less, and you avoid having to wait at a baggage carousel when all you want to do is get to where you need to be.
No one ever wishes they had more to carry when traveling; so packing less is key. I keep my clothes pretty simple when I travel. Comfortable, versatile, neutral. If I can’t wear a piece of clothing in more than one situation, I don’t need to bring it. A simple black dress goes a long way. A great carry-on suitcase makes a huge difference too. Here are my favorites:
Rimowa Salsa Deluxe Hybrid 21″ – This one is pricey, but will last you forever. It’s sturdy, thoughtful, durable, and beautiful. My favorite part is that there are expandable external pockets- which keep things extra organized. I always pair it with my Lotuff sling backpack – the best multifunction purse for travel.
Away Carry-On – This one is more affordable than the Rimowa. It is still a great case, and also includes an internal battery charger – which can be super helpful when you’re stuck in the airport with a dead phone. The quality and details are not on the level of Rimowa though.
Ultra Olive Folding Bag – This one I love for a few reasons. For one, it fits a lot more than you would think since it’s a soft duffle-type bag on wheels. The other thing I love is that it folds flat when not in use (which is amazing when you live in a small New York apartment!). Fits right under my bed.
Packing Cubes – I’ve recently started using packing cubes. They keep things extra organized. Sometimes I’ll bring an empty one to pack with clothes I’ll need for the next day in my purse. That way I don’t have to unpack my suitcase when I’m moving locations frequently. They are also great for shoes.
Especially when I’m traveling to places with more than one currency, I like to order a little bit to start with before my trip. Bank of America allows me to preorder currency online and they ship it before my trip so that I’m ready to go. I never get very much, but sometimes it’s nice to arrive to a country with a little bit of cash just in case you need it right away. Especially since some countries aren’t as credit card friendly as others.
When I travel with friends, there are lots of times when we’ll book different parts of the trip for each other, cover dinners under one card, etc. Instead of dealing with paying each other back in cash, well just pay each other with the SquareCash app. It’s super easy and convenient when you’re on the road. Just a few taps and the money is sent. My friend Valentina and I used it pretty frequently when we were in Europe the past couple of weeks.
The most annoying thing about traveling in a foreign country is not being able to use your phone as you would at home. Mainly in case of an emergency, or if you get lost. Luckily, I’ve come across a few tricks!
I never travel without one of these devices! They have changed the way I travel. Both companies have small devices you can order based on the countries you’ll be visiting for a low cost per day (typically around $8/day). The devices allow you to have a personal wifi hotspot with unlimited data wherever you go, allowing you to use your phone as you normally would- preventing you from getting lost, and allowing you to share your travels as you go. It also gives me peace of mind if there’s an emergency. My wifi device even worked in the Sahara Desert!
Another new thing I’ve discovered is AT&T wifi calling. They are covered under your normal plan, you just have to turn the wifi calling access on within your device. If you’re connected to wifi, you can make and receive calls internationally as you normally would- without incurring any additional charges.
Okay, those are all the tips I have for now… will share art supply travel tips with you soon!
Last year, I came across this video which I found to be incredibly inspiring (I’ve watched it a million times) . Not only because it features the work of Glen Keane, but because it displayed how real an artist’s work can be and exist within their mind. The act of imagining is pretty incredible in itself. I imagine many of the things I create in my mind to be real. To be able to visualize those imaginations on paper so that they can be seen by others is a powerful tool. But, to be able to physically portray those ideas within a 3D environment takes them to another level.
This past January, Google’s Data Arts Team invited me to San Francisco to immerse myself into a virtual world where I could create art within a three dimensional space. I spent a full day with the Google team, playing with Tiltbrush for the very first time. Stepping into a giant room covered in black drapes, I was handed the headset which was attached to a long black cord. Once I had the headset on, it was like I was in another world straight away. I had stepped into a dark and serene desert landscape, surrounded by 360º of distant mountains and a subtle starry night’s sky as I looked up over my head. It was a super relaxing virtual space. Everything felt calm, and very similar to how I feel when I paint late at night.
Once I had stepped into the VR world, I was handed two plastic controllers. I could see nothing around me in the real world, I was completely inside the virtual world. Once I had the plastic controllers placed in my hands, two virtual controllers appeared within my hands in the desert. There was a color palette and brush palette in my left hand, and a selector and brush tool in my right hand. They briefly explained how everything worked before I went into the virtual world, but from there they wanted me to fully experience what it’s like to figure out how to use a new tool. I think it took about 2 minutes to figure it all out. It felt more natural than I ever would have thought. I immediately began experimenting with the different brushes, line weights, opacities, and other tools. Instantly hooked!
Over the next few hours, I began timed drawing exercises. 30 min sketches, 20 minute sketches, 10 minute sketches, etc. Within the VR world, my mind completely forgot about the real world around me. A scary but fascinating situation. The only thing snapping me out of the creation of my art were the occasional moments when I was tangled in the VR cording. At the end of each drawing, I would take the headset off to take a quick break or to let one of the team members go in and experience my drawing. It was the weirdest feeling to step out of the virtual world. My artwork felt very real… like I could reach out and pick it up. Each brushstroke appeared to be a three-dimensional form. As soon as I was out and back in the real world it felt as if I had lost something that was just right in front of me. Very surreal. I couldn’t wait to go back in.
I also found TiltBrush to be a challenge. It made me rethink my work completely. Of course, drawing in 2D is a completely different experience than 3D. Drawing a gown on a figure meant creating brush strokes all the way around the woman, so it appeared on all sides as you walked around her. It felt a bit like I was relearning to draw… in a sculptural way.
I loved how physical Tiltbrush made the drawing process. Often, I’m stuck sitting at my drawing table all day when I’m working. In VR, to draw a star in the sky, I had to reach high in the air and physically create that star with my body. It was never something I really thought about while I was using it… it felt natural and intuitive. Unsurprisingly, by the end of 8 hours, I was incredibly exhausted when I came back to reality.
To be able to fill a world around me with my work and imagination was an incredible experience. The future should be fun…
Explore my artwork and the work of 5 other artists. Experience it from every angle!
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