Top Three Tips for Exploring A New City.

Growing up near DC, I tend to take ownership of it. When people ask me where I’m from, I’ll happily say “a suburb outside of DC” until they press me for more information and I have to admit I’m from Maryland (which I also love, but just a little less). My summer move to Philadelphia has been overwhelming and exciting. One challenge, though, has been figuring out all I need to do, see, and eat before I leave. While I’m still in the process of learning the ropes, here are some helpful tips for all my fellow transplants trying to find the who, what, when, and where. 

__________

1. Start An Instagram Collection

People will LOVE to let you know what should be at the top of your to-do list. I’ve gotten so many restaurant suggestions my pant size is already starting to expand at the thought of all the future meals. It can be really overwhelming and hard to remember the suggestions so as people give them to you, start a note in your phone to keep track. Later, look up the places on Instagram to get a feel for if you’d enjoy it. If yes, add it to a collection in your saved Instagram images so you can easily remember, find, and identify it based on photos! Also, don’t be afraid to skip suggestions that don’t feel you. Fancy Asain food restaurants, no matter how high they’re rated on Yelp!, will never make it onto my Musts list.

2. Research the Neighborhoods

For most big cities, there are almost little micro-cities inside, each characterized by individual personalities and activities to do there. Put a little time into getting to know what the best things from each neighborhood are and try to figure out where they are in comparison to each other. I truly believe the only way to get to know a city is by foot, so lace up your Adidas and hit the streets. This weekend, I walked over 10 miles through the city (half because Ubers were too expensive, half because adventure vibes). It can be really cool to see some of the things you’ve seen online or learned about in school while you walk.

3. Ask for Help

A lot of people strongly identify and love where they live. Don’t be afraid to ask people for directions, suggestions, and advice as you explore. For public transport, Google Maps is a great guide, but it’s not always the easiest. Consider popping into a store, stopping a pedestrian, or asking the subway stop workers for the easiest, best, safest way to get from A to B. Also, take advantage of those around you! I make sure to ask for weekend tips at work and events happening in the area. So far, I have a DIY Skyline Night at the Philadelphia Art Museum and a nighttime trip to Boathouse Row on my list. If you’re with other transplants or use social media, see what people in your network suggest. I’ve found they’re an awesome resource for food and fun reccs.

__________

This past weekend started with a spin class and ended with a dairy-free froyo run. Don’t worry there was a ton of thrifting, pride parading, flea market hunting, and park visiting in there, too. Can’t wait to keep learning this city’s grid and sharing all the secrets. 

And obviously send me any Philly musts immediately. Contact via DM. Open to all suggestions. Extra open to all trendy, Instagram-ready, coffee serving suggestions. 


Stuck in my head: Mission to Mars // RKS
Snap it: The Gayborhood, PHIL

Tomato, Sweet Potato.

Everyone loves a good vacation. Whether you’re a sand in my toes or skyscrapers as far as the eye can see kind of traveler, there are very few people who would hate on an escape from everyday life.

I’ve been very fortunate to hit some amazing cities in my life so far, Lisbon and Reyjkavik topping the list. But no matter where the plane lands, my travel goals are still the same. Find the soul of the city. Make a memory. Capture the moment. 

On my latest venture to the ever-so iconic concrete jungle, I started to think about the different values people have when exploring. For some it’s food, others it’s adventure. And it can really change the way a trip unfolds.

Finding the perfect travel companion is like picking the perfect pair of Adidas. The styles might be very similar, but one detail can make the difference. For me, I look for a photographer, a stylist, an honest evaluator, and an eye for a unqiue perspective. Someone ready to hunt for hidden jems to earn a double tap at the end of the day… and maybe split an almond-milk latte in there, too. 

There’s more to all this than just a curated feed. Of course, location (besides company) is everything in an experience. A jungle excursion to Costa Rica doesn’t call for the cutest pair of over-the-knee boots (unless you’re going for a totally Gigi Hadid Vogue vibe), and rainy walks around Key West might require some waterproof, not-so-hot gear. Stepping out of the airport is a commitment to embrace the moment, so strap on your zip lining harness and splash through the puddles with a smile. 

Pulling it back to the main point, travel is different to everyone. You say tomato, I say sweet potato. But in the end, no matter where you go and why, you’re getting the chance to explore the world. And nothing is better than that. Period.

 


Stuck in my head: Woke the F Up (acoustic) // Jon Bellion
Snap it: The Whitney Rooftop, NYC

Island Time

Here’s to lava fields, bright blue water, and infinite waterfalls. 

Last week I crossed something major off my Instagram/life bucket list. The one, the only, a global treasure, Iceland. From the moment we landed in Keflavik (and I saw an adorable coffee shop in the airport followed by countless murals on the drive to the city) I knew I’d cherish every single second I would spend in front of these mountain ranges and behind my iPhone camera lense. And it all lived up to expectations.

Grab your parka and your poncho. Some Haribos for the ride. Call me Glacier Girl because I’m about to take you on a photo tour of the most beautiful 5 days of my life. 

But all you really need to experience Iceland is your favorite travel companions. And luckily I had mine. 


Stuck in my head: Feel it Still // Portugal the Man
Snap it: Reykjavík, Iceland

It’s All About The Aestheic.

Since I spend all my time posting on Instagram or wanting to post on Instagram I figured it was about time to reveal my Instagram social strategy. No, it’s not just IG whatever’s on the plate today, each post goes through a series of steps before it can be deemed *ready for insta*. If I’m being totally honest, some pictures come to me in visions and I can’t eat/sleep/function until I capture them IRL. Okay fine, I can eat and sleep. But functioning is hard when that perfect post isn’t in your camera roll.

Each post is a little different, but most follow the same guidelines. Horizontal, flash if indoor, natural light preferred, probably closed smile, coffee in hand if available. Might seem simple but it’s not. You can ask my sister/personal photographer. Think ten thousand shots, ten thousand angles, and ten thousand complaints from the model. But hey, I’m just trying to capture a memory.

From there we go into editing. Nothing extreme, just playing with contrast, brightness, and lux. The goal is to make the photo kiiinnndddaa match the rest of the photos on your profile feed. This is where the element of aestheic comes in. If you’re a teenage girl right now you know what I’m talking about. If you’re not a teenage girl then you’re definitely questioning my sanity and it sounds like I’m speaking gibberish. Hang in there with me.

Your IG aesthetic is the vibe of your feed. This term popped up with the rise of Instagram Influencers and it’s one of my favorite aspects of the platform. Essentially, you’re building a personality and a brand through your feed, and the way you do that is by purposely posting pictures that reflect that vibe. That vibe is your aesthetic and your aesthetic is your profile. I try and aim for a little city, a little campus, and mostly Cava. Finally it gets sent to a few bffs for comments and suggestions, captioned (always ending with a . because consistency, hello), and debated for another 2 or so minutes. Then, it’s out of my control and into the Insta-sphere.

I could talk about Instagram forever, but here’s the truth to my thoughts behind a post. What would Lucie B. Fink/Katy Bellotte/theFeedFeed/Aimee Song** do? To me, Instagram is also about being inspired and sharing photos you’re proud of. So when I hit that share button in the top right corner of the app it’s because this is something that’s worth it. It’s those fun nights out, those fun nights in, and all the meals in between. 

So I’ll just put this out there. I’m Instagram obsessed, well dressed, and aiming to impress. And if you don’t like it, feel free to unfollow.


Stuck in my head: Hey Now // Matt and Kim
Snap it: My Instagram Feed, find it here.

Keep in mind I want to work in social media!  I’m not just like super crazy. There’s a plan behind the passion, don’t worry. 

** These are some of my favorite Instagram bloggers. Check them out. Major IG crushes. 

The New York Theory

With great clothes comes great responsibility. And by responsibility I mean the drive to find more, buy more, & wear more. Take off trends are some of my favorite things- body suits, flare jeans, chokers, the list goes on- but finding the perfect purchase is sometimes less than ideal. Even when your heart and head are totally in it.

I have a huge crush on NYC. I mean who doesn’t love Instagram-ready murals and street style that kills. But whenever I take a trip to the Big Apple looking for a new wardrobe I end up leaving with two dozen bagels and disappointment. Until this trip…

So, here’s my New York theory: so many clothes in the city + so many expectations going into it = empty handed, so many clothes + no expectations = brand new closet.

Now here’s the key to bashing the pressure of the purchase: Before I left for NYC, I had a little pre-shop in DC, settling my consumerism fever & fear of finding nothing. Keeping the receipts & clothes at home (in case I found something better), I got onto the VaMoose with no worry of leaving empty handed. I also set my sights on finding the vegan cafe, By Chloe, instead of being hyperfocused on finding clothes. Avocado toast > A new anything. 

Now, of course, I went to shop & shop I did. And for one of the first times in a long time I found things I loved in the city I loved. Patience & planning go a loooonnng way. As does having parents that carry your bags & give your their *true* opinions on that dress.

So, let’s review & please take notes: when going to New York to make your latest fashion conquest start by expecting NOT to find that at all. Erase that idea. Bye bye, gone. Then add a little optimism, a lot of time, & a couple Ubers. & maybe, just maybe, the city will love you back. 


Stuck in my head: Circles // machineheart
Snap it: Rockafeller Center