3 Days in NYC {What I Packed}

What I packed for three days in New York City

[trip style = urban]

Whether I'm packing for an urban escape, spa weekend, or fam-jam beach trip, I edit and re-edit my suitcase contents as meticulously as Anna Wintour analyses the pages of Vogue before print. To me, packing is like fashion Tetris: When everything fits—in every sense of the word—it's beautiful. 

Following up on the Only Packing Tricks You Ever Need to Know hints I wrote about yesterday, my toddler is the one who inspired me to decode the details of how I packed for my three-day trip to New York. While he's more an aviation fanatic than a Tom Ford-in-training, he always wants to see photos of everything I do, see and taste when I travel. With his interest as my inspiration, I give you New York... through the eyes of my wardrobe. More NYC updates to come.

A snippet of my suitcase style based on the weather and my NY wanderings. 

A snippet of my suitcase style based on the weather and my NY wanderings. 

My Vancouver --> New York airplane outfit, a go-to getup that is similar every trip {other than a few tweaks based on destination and trip type}. Slip-on shoes for security, comfy jeans, a soft T to "up" the cozy-factor on my red-eye flight. I finished it off with a lightweight blazer to befit my surroundings in Cathay Pacific's gorgeous YVR Lounge, in my Cathay Pacific business class seat, and my arrival the Four Seasons New York Hotel Downtown. 

My Vancouver --> New York airplane outfit, a go-to getup that is similar every trip {other than a few tweaks based on destination and trip type}. Slip-on shoes for security, comfy jeans, a soft T to "up" the cozy-factor on my red-eye flight. I finished it off with a lightweight blazer to befit my surroundings in Cathay Pacific's gorgeous YVR Lounge, in my Cathay Pacific business class seat, and my arrival the Four Seasons New York Hotel Downtown

Post-flight: Same jeans, new top. I love it when hotels offer a place to freshen up when you arrive in the AM before your room is ready. Here I'm in the Four Seasons' spa all spiffed following an early arrival. Photo by @NomNomYVR

Post-flight: Same jeans, new top. I love it when hotels offer a place to freshen up when you arrive in the AM before your room is ready. Here I'm in the Four Seasons' spa all spiffed following an early arrival.
Photo by @NomNomYVR

Loose and lightweight dress for a day of sightseeing starting at the Oculus transportation hub and upscale shopping space. Believe it or not: these shoes are very comfortable for the miles logged traipsing around New York's urban jungle.  Photo by @NomNomYVR

Loose and lightweight dress for a day of sightseeing starting at the Oculus transportation hub and upscale shopping space. Believe it or not: these shoes are very comfortable for the miles logged traipsing around New York's urban jungle. 
Photo by @NomNomYVR

In denim, yet again, on floor 101 of the One World Observatory at the top of the One World Trade Center. Photo by @NomNomYVR

In denim, yet again, on floor 101 of the One World Observatory at the top of the One World Trade Center.
Photo by @NomNomYVR

What I packed into my New York carry-on: - Running shoes and workout gear - Going out/chic sightseeing shoes - Skirt - 5 dresses - Jean shorts - 4 tops - Other: toiletries, jewelry, belts, scarves, bathing suit, "crushable" hat, camera, hair straightener, clutch purse

What I packed into my New York carry-on:
- Running shoes and workout gear
- Going out/chic sightseeing shoes
- Skirt
- 5 dresses
- Jean shorts
- 4 tops
- Other: toiletries, jewelry, belts, scarves, bathing suit, "crushable" hat, camera, hair straightener, clutch purse

Other Dispatches in this Series
Next Up :: NYC
Cathay Pacific's GORGEOUS New Lounge at YVR

[Photos by @TripStyler, and @NomNomYVR's incredible photo skills where listed]

The ONLY Packing Tricks You EVER Need To Know

[trip style = any]

Last week I met up with some travel industry friends who are on the go so much they put the jet in setter. The topic of "how we pack" for trips came up. I told them I almost always galavant with a carry-on—whether it's three days in Santa Barbara or three weeks in Stockholm

"Wait, how do you do it?", they asked. "What about your tech and toiletries?" I told them that for me, packing light comes down to one major factor: A highly edited suitcase {which includes decisions such as small toiletries and efficient camera and computer gear}.

With this, here are my rules for achieving an ultra-edited suitcase. And guess what? Even with my choosy packing, there are still outfits I don't even wear...

packing an edited suitcase

5 Rules for Packing an Edited Suitcase  
1/ Check the weather
The forecast will largely influence your travel wardrobe picks. Get a sense of the weather a few days in advance, and re-check a day before leaving since conditions can change.

2/ Review your itinerary {or major vacation to-dos} and pair outfits with each event
Last week I was in NYC. Since I had a pretty good idea of the activities I'd do each day, I chose an outfit to "suit" each Manhattan must-do, which helped guide the garments I placed in my bag.

3/ Shoes are your biggest opportunity
One of the basics of a well-packed bag is limiting large {or copious amounts} of shoes. Shoes take up too much real estate, so only bring footwear that will work with a few of your chosen garments.

4/ Select a go-to airport outfit
A go-to airport getup takes the guesswork out of getting out the door. On this topic, I tend to wear my biggest shoes and/or jacket on the plane, so these items don't add too much bulk to my bag. FYI: If you ask nicely, most flight attendants can hang up your coat for you. 

5/ The hack of all packing hacks: A portable washing bag
If your trip is longer than five days—about the amount of clothes you can fit into a carry-on—start to mix, match and repeat outfits. As things get dirty use this quick portable washing machine technique {hint hint: it's with a freezer-size Ziploc bag}.

[photos by @tripstyler] 

Next Up: NYC

New York City

[trip style = urban]

While everyone else is on the hunt for the coolest pool inflatable {read: unicorn!} to Instagram in a sea of blue, I'm going to zig while others zag and seek the city versus the sand.

This week I'm kicking off the TS summer in style and heading to the ultimate metropolis, New York, to explore Lower Manhattan's eye-popping revitalization and report back on its essentials.

Trip Styler Tip: On the topic of zigging while others zag, as in, booking a summertime getaway to the city versus the beach... I love this travel strategy because it always boils down to less financial output. Case in point: Cathay Pacific is offering up to 23% off Economy Class and Business Class fares between Vancouver and New York right now. This is not sponsored, I'm just telling you because the airline and destination are TS travel muses.

When I first started Trip Styler back in 2009 I made a vow to visit the Big Apple yearly. My rationale: Connecting with New York is like getting together with your coolest friend. It never gets old {and you're already anticipating your next visit before you've even parted ways}. While I haven't 100% hit the lofty goal of visiting every 12 months, I've been able to prioritize getting there almost once a year. Because, New York. 

To whet your NYC palate, here's a taste of the concrete jungle courtesy of some never-seen-on-TS photos from my trip with Mr. Trip Styler a year ago. More dispatches will hit the wire shortly. I leave Monday night on the daily and nonstop YVR to JFK Cathay Pacific flight. Stay tuned. 

{Want to know more about a photo or pinpoint its exact location? Click it!}

Related
First Look :: Cathay Pacific's GORGEOUS New Lounge at YVR

[photos by @tripstyler + @mrtripstyler]

The Après-Vacation BFF: Your Freezer

freezer meals for when you get home from vacation

[trip style = food]

Recently, I've made a new friend who welcomes me home from my travels with a green smoothie and a near-ready dinner. She's a little cold, but she's faithful, so our friendship thrives. This new friend is my freezer, and if we coordinate our schedules well, she's a real lifesaver when I need to feed the TS Crew healthy food {and I'm too tired to brave the grocery store}!  

In my early Trip Styling days, I would come home from vacation to an empty fridge. No problemo. A jar of peanut butter would satiate my hunger until I could dash to the market. Now that I have a baby and a toddler, I can’t employ the same laissez-faire technique. So now, the SMARTEST THING I do before I leave on a trip is stock the freezer with healthy dishes, which I can "make" {read: pull out of the freezer and defrost} when I'm so jet-lagged I can't see straight.

The best part about this post-vacation freezer plan is its ease: All I do is make a few extra portions of the meals I’m already consuming before we leave. Bonus: When my freezer is full of good-to-go meals, there’s no temptation to stop for fast food or worry about meal-planning. 

Here are some of my crew’s post-travel freezer favorites:

The Every Meal
CAULI CAKES {pictured at the top}: I love cauli cakes—a veggie take on my friend-who-should-have-her-own-restaurant Buffie's crab cakes—for any meal of the day. It's easy to make a ton of these in advance; plus, they freeze well and defrost quickly. To whip them up, mix cauliflower rice {raw cauliflower pulsed in the food processor}, an egg, mayo, panko, parmesan, a dash of dijon, fresh herbs, and S&P to taste. Once everything is combined, mold them into golf ball-sized portions, place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, flatten them a little with your palm, and bake at 350ºF for about 12 mins {until slightly browned on top}. 

breaskfast when you come home from vacation

Breakfast
But first, COFFEE: If you’re a superhuman who can take your coffee straight-up, I salute your minimalism {and wish I could sip the same}. However, if you like something creamy in your cup, try to freeze a little before you hightail it for vacationville! Freezing cream actually works.

SMOOTHIES: Stock up on frozen fruits and vegetables such as bananas, pineapple, peaches, blueberries, spinach, or kale, and blend them together to kick-start your post-vacation detox. Your body will thank you.
--> Have you tried our detoxifying jugo verde recipe

OATS: As far as sustenance, oatmeal with berries is a sure bet. Either pre-freeze a batch you’re already making, or throw some whole oats on the stove and add frozen berries. Grab a handful of almonds from your pantry and it's a whole meal.

QUINOA: We're quinoa-obsessed since carby-protein is tasty, good for you, and SUPER versatile. Pre-make it before you leave, then defrost it, fry it up, and add an egg. If you have a sweet tooth, heat it up with butter, maple syrup, and frozen pre-cut banana pieces.

dinner ideas for when you come home from vacation

Lunch or Dinner
LASAGNA: I know, you know, and your mom knows that lasagna is an ideal freezer meal.

SOUP: Soup and bread are sure bet {and one pairing I always keep in my deep-freeze}. Most soups freeze well, and bread defrosts quickly, meaning your hunger pangs will be sorted in seconds.

VEG: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked in my fridge the night before leaving on a trip only to realize I’ve got a bunch of veggies that won’t survive my time away. Even though I’m usually running behind on the packing front, I take an extra 10 minutes to chop up all my veggies and put them into a freezer bag or sealed container. Pre-chopped veggies go with any pantry staple or sauce kicking around my fridge, and supercharge my diet when I'm done with rich travel meals.

Want more "cool" ideas? Check out my article in The Kitchn: 17 Freezer Meals for When You Come Back from Vacation.

[Photos by @TripStyler]

My Most Beautiful Meal in Hong Kong

high-end dim sum in hong kong

[trip style = food + urban]

If you want to devour ALL the dim sum, Hong Kong is the place to let your taste buds do the exploring. Home to mom-and-pop shops, and a swath of sophisticated restaurants where families go to celebrate or tycoons dine to impress, the food-obsessed city is your best bet for tasting the traditional Cantonese meal. 

Having dined on dim sum from street to three-star Michelin-chic, I thought I'd found my all-stars. Then I sat down for a two-star Michelin feast and preferred it in every way.    

The fact that I'm writing about dim sum being my most beautiful meaI in Hong Kong is a next-level achievement for this once-picky eater. In addition to tasting menus featuring rabbit-stuffed ravioli, or lamb prepared in an oven dug into the Sahara Desert, the myriad of dishes in a dim sum feast remind me how far I've come from crackers and cheese. While I don't indulge in golden frog legs with spicy salt on a regular basis, my travels have taught that experiencing a place through its traditional food gives you a seat at its cultural table, both literally and figuratively. With this, here's a first-hand account of my seat at Yan Toh Heen, one of Hong Kong's most beloved Cantonese restaurants, called the "best for dim sum virgins" by CNN.

From design, to food, to the rarely-seen kitchen, I give you: My most beautiful meal in Hong Kong.

Talk about an entrance. Before you even enter Yan Toh Heen, custom jade gates made from the restaurant's original gemstone tableware make for a wow-factor arrival.

Talk about an entrance. Before you even enter Yan Toh Heen, custom jade gates made from the restaurant's original gemstone tableware make for a wow-factor arrival.

The harbor-view dining room is draped in soft cream linens, mother-of-pearl, and wood accents, which provide a plush backdrop to the main star: The dim sum {historically a snack food for tired and weary travelers}.

The harbor-view dining room is draped in soft cream linens, mother-of-pearl, and wood accents, which provide a plush backdrop to the main star: The dim sum {historically a snack food for tired and weary travelers}.

Sharpening his knife and practicing the art of Cantonese cooking since the age of 14 in renowed Hong Kong dim sum kitchens, Executive Chef Lau Yiu Fai {left} is “the” guy you want folding, frying, and obsessing over your steamed pork and prawn dumplings.

Sharpening his knife and practicing the art of Cantonese cooking since the age of 14 in renowed Hong Kong dim sum kitchens, Executive Chef Lau Yiu Fai {left} is “the” guy you want folding, frying, and obsessing over your steamed pork and prawn dumplings.

The Executive Chef also doubles as a knowledgeable {and hilarious} dim sum teacher. Call the InterContinental Hong Kong to book a dim sum-making class at Yan Toh Heen.

The Executive Chef also doubles as a knowledgeable {and hilarious} dim sum teacher. Call the InterContinental Hong Kong to book a dim sum-making class at Yan Toh Heen.

Fun with dim sum: Making a crab with asparagus pinchers.

Fun with dim sum: Making a crab with asparagus pinchers.

More fun with dim sum, this time, a fish and a bunny. 

More fun with dim sum, this time, a fish and a bunny. 

Every place setting is decorated with custom jade tableware, so substantial, it's hard to lift.

Every place setting is decorated with custom jade tableware, so substantial, it's hard to lift.

The pièce de resistance: Peking duck, carved and served on a trolley, tableside.

The pièce de resistance: Peking duck, carved and served on a trolley, tableside.

Peking Duck is a revered Chinese dish. The traditional preparation, involving many hours, leaves the skin crispy and the meat succulent. Here, the crispy skin is served atop thin pancakes along with crudités such as green papaya, cucumber, red chili, and pineapple, as well as a selection of signature sauces. Deeeeeeelish.

Peking Duck is a revered Chinese dish. The traditional preparation, involving many hours, leaves the skin crispy and the meat succulent. Here, the crispy skin is served atop thin pancakes along with crudités such as green papaya, cucumber, red chili, and pineapple, as well as a selection of signature sauces. Deeeeeeelish.

From top: Roasted duck-stuffed taro bun, crispy spring roll with shredded chicken, and steamed mushroom and black truffle dumpling.  

From top: Roasted duck-stuffed taro bun, crispy spring roll with shredded chicken, and steamed mushroom and black truffle dumpling.  

Wok-fried vegetables served in an edible wheat-flour basket.

Wok-fried vegetables served in an edible wheat-flour basket.

Chilled on-the-spot mango cream with pomelo.

Chilled on-the-spot mango cream with pomelo.

A view of the dim sum prep kitchen. 

A view of the dim sum prep kitchen. 

Eating my intricate meal and seeing the kitchen in action, I've gleaned that dim sum chefs who labor over each piece with a surgical attention to detail, are food savants. 

Eating my intricate meal and seeing the kitchen in action, I've gleaned that dim sum chefs who labor over each piece with a surgical attention to detail, are food savants. 

How to Order Dim Sum
1. If you're a newbie, order the chef's tasting menu—typically a "highlight reel"—so it's a smart bet.
2. Plan ahead: Signatures such as Peking Duck or Barbecued Suckling Pig, often require advanced notice. 
3. Many dim sum restaurants serve their dishes from a trolley that passes by each table. When there's a menu it is often presented in categories {steamed, fried, noodle, specialty dishes, dessert} for easy ordering. 
4. Don't keep a dish to yourself, dim sum is a sharing meal.
5. Always start with tea. High-end dim sum restaurants have tea sommeliers to pair your sips with your selections.

Other Dispatches in this Series
6 Hong Kong Hints {that will make you want to book a ticket ASAP}
Flying Well :: Cathay Pacific's Revolutionary A350
Style Inspiration :: The Pier Business + First Class Lounges in Hong Kong
First Look :: Cathay Pacific's GORGEOUS New Lounge at YVR
Hong Kong :: Instagram Diary
Cathay Pacific Vancouver to Hong Kong

[photos by @tripstyler, except jade gates and interior shot provided by the InterContinental Hong Kong, where I stayed and dined as a guest. As with all Trip Styler dispatches involving partners, I ONLY talk about best-in-class travel experiences. This is one of them.]