This month, our featured member is Tracey (aka TTG), a New Yorker who never met a beach, a cheeseburger, or a frozen drink she didn’t like! Whether she’s babysitting a wiener dog in Key West, crashing a gala in the Hamptons, curing her heat exhaustion with rum punch in Anguilla, or walking a pet chicken on a leash in Delray Beach, Tracey’s travels are never boring, and are relayed with witty, self-deprecating humor and beautiful photographs. A few weeks ago, I chatted with her about her beachy outlook, her favourite cocktails, and what’s next on her travel agenda.
One of the quotes on your Travellerspoint profile reads: "The cure for everything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea." How does this affect your travel philosophy?
I am definitely a water baby! My favourite destinations are always those where I can get my toes in the sand. On the East Coast I love the salty smell of the ocean, the roar of the waves, the reedy dune grasses, and even the squawking seagulls. In the Hamptons, the beaches aren’t too built up and you can walk for miles without seeing any hotels or houses. It’s wild and pristine and soothing. Just last weekend we drove out to the beach there (yes, in March!) and my husband and I both dug our shoes in the sand to make sure we’d track some into the car – just the sight of it is enough to make me happy!
The beaches in the Caribbean are even more beautiful to me, but in a different way: I can’t get enough of the powdery white sand and clear, turquoise water. I also love the isolated feel of the islands – for me, they are the ultimate escape, a way to just drop out of society for a while. My idea of heaven is an afternoon at a beach shack with a rum punch in my hand, the smell of fried shrimp and boiled lobster in the air, a steel-drum band playing in the background, an uncrowded white-sand beach, and calm blue water as far as the eye can see.
You mention you work crazy hours in Manhattan and spend your limited free time travelling. What travel tips would you recommended to other time-poor urban dwellers?
I’m a big fan of the three- or four-day weekend. Although the traffic leaving the city can be brutal, within an hour or two of arriving somewhere new I feel as though I’ve been gone for half a day, and by Saturday afternoon I’ve forgotten all about the stresses of life back in the city! My office is typically closed on federal holidays, so I also try to schedule my trips around them; that way, I need fewer days off and am gone when everyone else is. I’ve read that people derive nearly as much happiness from planning and looking forward to a trip as they do actually taking it, and that’s certainly true for me – knowing that I’ll be away even just one or two nights can definitely make a tough week a little easier!
You document your travels beautifully through photography. What advice do you have for other travel bloggers wanting to share their travels?
The main thing I try to do is make it fun. No one wants to read about how your flight was delayed, or how dirty your hotel room was, or how that waitress got your order wrong. Those things happen to all of us, but if someone is going to take the time to read my blog, I want them to have a good time! (Hopefully the fact that I have a good time, both travelling and blogging about it, comes through, too.) I also try to capture the spirit of a place – what makes it unique? What are the “don’t miss” places to go or things to see? And of course I take lots of food pictures. I once posted a report about Christmas in New York and people actually emailed me and said, “Yeah, that was great... but what did you eat?!” My poor husband has learned not to touch his meal until I’ve photographed it, no matter how delicious it looks or smells!
Your travels and favourite places appear to be luxurious and warm destinations, where's next on the agenda?
I tend to get a little depressed when we return from a trip (particularly when we go somewhere warm and return to freezing cold or pouring rain here in New York), but I’ve discovered that the cure is to have the next trip planned before I return from the first one! So I always try to have a few in the pipeline. This year it’s back to Key West in early April, and then we’ll be in the Hamptons most weekends through September (we are extremely fortunate to have a tiny cottage there). In October we’re headed to Charleston, South Carolina – I’ve never been, and with all the talk lately about their excellent restaurant scene, it was definitely time to give it a try.
On your blog, there's the odd photo or two of cocktails on exotic beaches – what's your favourite drink?
Wow – that’s like asking someone to pick their favorite child! But I do like a good rum punch when I’m in the Caribbean (made the right way, with a sprinkle of freshly-grated nutmeg on top), and I wait all year for the watermelon margaritas at B. Smith’s in Sag Harbor. They use only fresh watermelons, so the margaritas always taste a bit different from one year to the next. Sometimes I’ll find myself thinking, “Ah, 2008 – now that was a great vintage!”
What inspires you about travel?
Meeting new people. I love seeing how other people live, what their houses look like, how they spend their days, what they like to eat. Mark Twain said it best: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” I’m always pleasantly surprised to see how small the world is and how much we all have in common. We were in Italy once and my husband, Angel, who speaks no Italian, was haggling over the price of some linens with a shop owner, an older gentleman who spoke no English. Back and forth they went, writing numbers on a slip of paper, until finally the shop owner had reached his final offer, which he indicated by pointing at his wedding ring, then running his finger across his throat: My wife will kill me! That makes me laugh to this day, and it shows that while we may come from different places, and we may not look the same or speak the same language, the desire to be friendly and helpful and find some human connection is universal. That connection is what motivates me. Why else would anyone endure yet another airport pat-down and countless hours in a cramped aluminum tube?!
Check out these recent interviews in the Talking Travel series: