The Travel Community in NYC

by Jackie D on August 28, 2014

circle line cruise nycLast week I attended a travel industry networking event in New York City, and it was a shocking reminder to me that oh right, you live in New York City now, remember that? I’ve been having a lot of these moments recently. I can’t seem to remember that I live here now — I should probably set a reminder on my phone.

We were standing around trying to network (the good thing about these types of events is that everyone is on my level of networking skills – we are all generally more comfortable behind a computer screen, but if we’re hanging out in person and there’s wine, we’ll talk) when suddenly everyone hurried over to one side of the boat.

The Statue of Liberty had suddenly come out of nowhere and everyone wanted a good photo. No one else seemed worried by the fact that we had all just shifted our weight to one side of the boat (physics? Titanic?). This has always been my favorite part of these events, when everyone sees the same thing and whips out their phones to get the best shot. I have this photo from an event last year that I love — everyone was trying to photograph the Toronto skyline as it was starting to rain, so there were just cameras and phones and umbrellas and bloggers everywhere — it was chaos and it was great.

And really, despite the fact that I was convinced we were going to sink ourselves trying to get the Statue of Liberty perfectly in frame, it too was a great photo. The lighting was perfect, the sun was just setting, and the skyline was beginning to light up.

Our boat cruised along the harbor with beautiful views of the city behind us, the clouds looking pretty but slightly ominous in the background (it rained about two hours after we all left). It felt like such a quintessential New York night to me – skyline, Statue of Liberty, work event, wine.  The crowd was a mix of bloggers, freelance writers, photographers, social media managers, people working at hotels, people working in ad sales for travel websites – basically anything you can do online and in the travel industry.

I had no idea the travel community was so large here, but then again – why am I surprised? It’s only five hours to many places in Europe by plane – less than it takes to fly to the west coast of the US – and so many major travel companies are based here. From Europe it’s fairly easy to get almost anywhere else. This city has three major airports within reach and trains running up and down the east coast — again, I’m not sure why it’s taking me so long to fully digest everything that New York City is, but hopefully I catch up soon.

I realize that not all travel bloggers and photographers go to these networking events, and so it’s not a representation of the community as a whole, but I enjoyed getting a glimpse into this part of it. In a way, it makes me feel so much better about having moved to New York.

When I moved back to Los Angeles I assumed I would stay there for a long time, and I had no idea if moving here for this new job was the right thing to do, so now it’s comforting to feel like I am more a part of the travel industry here than I was in California. I feel like it’s a step in the right direction — although it still hurts my heart a little to say that “the right direction” is one that involves moving away from the west coast. California, don’t be mad.

*Our event was hosted by Circle Line Cruises in NYC, and if you want to join the Meetup group that participates in these events each month, here you go.

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Snapshots from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

by Jackie D on August 25, 2014

metropolitan museum of art
I never thought I’d say this about an art museum, particularly one as distinguished as this, but the Met wasn’t really at the top of my list when I moved to New York. It’s not that I didn’t want to visit – I think mostly it’s the fact that I still don’t really feel like I am in New York City, and so a lot of the big sights haven’t really been on my radar.

Also, there’s been that whole moving across the country and getting used to a new job thing to deal with.

I stopped by on a Sunday to kill some time while I was waiting for the library to open. I saw that there was an exhibit of Garry Winogrand’s photography showing at the Met and I recalled that my former boss (at the photography studio) had told me that Winogrand was his favorite photographer.

Winogrand is known for his New York street photography from the 50s and 60s, and I think my favorite photos are the ones where the subject has caught him taking his or her picture and he or she gives him the stink eye. It’s the best.

There’s also this photo of a woman laughing that I think is truly the greatest thing I have ever seen.

I’ll be visiting the Met again and again I’m sure, as it technically doesn’t cost anything (there is a suggested donation), and I probably only saw about a sixteenth of it, if even that. In the meantime I’m going to build a shrine  to that photo of that woman laughing and just worship it until someone tells me to stop.metropolitan museum of art nyc

met museum nyc
met museum nyc
met museum ny

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In one of my recent posts
I mentioned the excitement I always used to feel right before school started each autumn. Even now that I’ve been out of school for 4 years, I still seem to feel that excitement at the end of August, right before fall starts.

I don’t believe that school is the right choice for everyone. It was definitely the right choice for me — I love being in a classroom and I learn best by sitting in discussions, doing assigned reading, and writing essays. Some people work best by actually getting out there, being thrown in head first, and just sort of being let loose without any traditional schooling or training.

Luckily for me, I’ve gotten to learn both ways.


4 Years in School

I learned so much about writing and art during those 4 years. I grew up sitting on the floor in the living room drawing pictures and stapling pieces of paper together to create little “novels” (my magnum opus was a 10ish-page thriller called “Pets” — watch out JK Rowling! — although my rendition of the Easter story from the Bible was also quite notable, mostly because of how creepy it was — watch out Jesus!). When I got to college, I began to study the ways and reasons that other people made art.

I memorized dates and locations of famous paintings. I learned to distinguish Roman arches from Greek arches and how to paint with a palette knife. I took a writing workshop and learned that not everyone can hear what dialogue sounds like.

I studied art in France for a summer and stood in the chapel that Matisse designed for a few nuns who took care of him when he was sick.

I learned what Googie architecture is. I read an apocalyptic novel by Octavia Butler in one sitting and was stunned to realize that a.) the world will actually end at some point, and b.) apocalyptic novels might be my favorite genre of fiction.

I learned that essays classified as “food writing” aren’t really about food most of the time — often they are about hunger and appetite, which are often completed unrelated to food.

I learned that Milton — author of Paradise Lost — was blind and had to dictate the entire text to someone else who could write it down for him.

I learned that success is a result of hard work, and that if you want something badly enough there’s no reason you can’t get it. You just have to put in the work.


4 Years Traveling

I have now seen travel from several different sides. I’ve backpacked, interned, and studied in various different countries; I’ve been invited to Israel as a journalist; I’ve worked for a small family-owned business that leads photography/travel tours; and now I am working for a large company specializing in train travel.

I see now that hard work is only half the equation. The other half is luck. While I believe that more opportunities will open for you the more you put yourself out there, I also believe that there’s something to be said for being in the right place at the right time.

I believe that just because you travel somewhere and don’t know the language doesn’t mean you’re automatically an obnoxious American tourist. Just don’t BE obnoxious. A smile will get you pretty far, and if it doesn’t, teaching a stranger a card game when you’re stranded on a cargo ship overnight will also get you pretty far.

I learned to snorkel. I learned to fish. I learned that in order to gain as much speed as possible when you are volcano boarding, you need to fully commit to that speed or else you’ll crash really hard. I crashed really hard.

If you are traveling alone and you meet a group of friends who invite you to travel with them, say yes, even if it means changing your plans. If you have the chance to stay on a boat in Gibraltar, say yes, even if you are afraid of the ocean. If you are offered the chance to feed a little lamb from a bottle in Ireland, say yes. Say yes.

When buying a plane ticket, a train ticket, a museum ticket, a pair of shoes, a stick of gum, anything — always, always, always read the fine print. Know the rules. Know what you’re accepting responsibility for when you hand over your money.

When there is less money involved, don’t worry about the rules as much.

Perspective is everything. A twelve hour bus ride will be hellish if you believe that it is hellish. It will be hellish but also slightly funny if you keep things in perspective — it’s twelve hours of your life, get over it.

Of course there’s a risk in traveling alone when you’re a woman, but there’s a risk in living in a big city too — but no one is going to warn you against living in a big city.

When driving through a snowstorm, do not try to use your windshield wiper fluid to clear the windshield. It freezes. This one is mostly for my fellow Californians.

I think that when you’re going through a hard time, it helps to put something on the calendar that you can look forward to — for me, that always involves buying a plane ticket.

Although I’m not sure I would still get a “laugh” tattoo on my lower abdomen if you asked me about it today, I’m glad that 19 year old me decided to — I still believe that laughing is the best thing of all time and I know I will never not believe that. I think it’s funny that 19 year old Jackie decided to do that on a whim one summer afternoon in college.

This fall marks the end of these first four years out of school. I am still working in the travel industry, I have a trip scheduled for about 12 days from now, and I signed up for a mapmaking class online. Looks like the next four years (or the next few weeks in this class at least) are going to be a mixture of both school and travel — and then after those four years I’ll be turning 30, so I’m sure I’ll have a whole new crisis to deal with.

Here’s to the next four!

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