Invest in Experiences

After returning from my first trip to New York City, I am reminded of how much traveling speaks to my soul. When my husband accepted a free trip to New York after getting a call about a timeshare, I will admit that I was very skeptical. However, the fact that I am 33 years old and never truly explored NYC left me ultimately eager for this trip. We decided to tack on an extra night that my husband was able to use points towards which meant essentially 3 free nights in the big apple. Like most women I know, I typically pack WAY TOO MUCH. After all, a girl’s gotta have options right? Well, I thought I would use this trip as a little experiment and see it from a minimalist point of view. Typically, my husband and I both pack a large bag that has to be checked (which of course is extra $$). We took some baby steps and tried to combine everything in one bag. This certainly meant that my options would be limited. Thankfully, I didn’t find this to be a problem at all. Let’s face it, I am no Carrie Bradshaw. My goal was to pack clothes that are comfortable that would allow me to explore the city to the fullest. Honestly, I packed and wore mainly leggings, t-shirts, and tennis shoes. I did bring jeans, a nice top, and a dress just in case. I also cut the amount of toiletries I pack in half. On just about every trip, I have packed a large hair dryer, straightener, curling iron, and sometimes a waver. For this trip, I decided that I would limit my hair tools to two. Again, baby steps. I have realized that everywhere we stay there is almost always a hairdryer. Although I have always known this, I have assumed that I needed MY hairdryer. Cue eye roll. Ah, to be a dude. How much simpler life would be. Either way, I didn’t feel deprived and will no longer be packing every hair tool I own. Next step, carry-on!

A community garden project in Brooklyn

The trip itself was a dream. NYC is just as amazing and fast paced as I imagined. There is also something to be said about exploring a new place for the first time. In this new phase in life, I certainly try to care less about what other people think. As long as I am not hurting anyone, I try and focus on what truly makes me happy. What better place to do this than NYC? It was heartwarming to notice that in this city, you can be your true self and live life on your terms. How refreshing it is to see that this is the norm. Being from the south, that is definitely not the case. In general, people want you to fit within their mold and will openly question and judge you when you don’t. This way of life in the south certainly perpetuated my “need to please” behavior without me even realizing it. As a girl born and raised in Tennessee, I quickly caught on to the expectation of needing to be perfect or at least portray that I am. This was influenced by friends, teachers, family, and employers. So although NYC is an incredible city for so many reasons, my favorite takeaway from this trip was its ability to allow you to be who you are and it’s diversity. Just about every other person spoke a different language! For me, traveling is a way of immersing yourself into a different culture and truly opening your eyes and broadening your perspective.

So let’s get to the timeshare thing. No, we did not come out of this trip chained to a timeshare. That would be a step in the wrong direction to say the least. I am sure many of you have heard of free trips to attend a presentation for timeshares and were skeptical like us. Fortunately for us, it wasn’t bad at all. I will be the first to tell you, that being sold to makes me very, very uncomfortable. Our experience involved a mandatory presentation that lasted just under 2 hours. I smiled, nodded my head, and paid attention, but ultimately left it up to my husband to shut down the sale. Sure, I could have handled it, but I might as well let him do what he is good at! Once the presentation was over, we simply went back to exploring NYC! Totally worth it!

Lucky for me, I married a man that shares the same passion for travel and finding the best cuisine wherever we go. This trip did not disappoint! I make sure to do my research before we leave on any trip so that I know where to get the best of the BEST. Although I do a lot of planning ahead of time, I do think it is vital to not have a strict itinerary to abide by. You have to leave gaps in your trip to explore and stumble upon places, because that is often where the magic is. In order to see as much as possible, we took the subway everywhere. What a crazy, efficient, and cheap way to get from A to B. For those who have yet to experience this form of transit, I highly recommend it. It saves so much money and time! Like most everything else in this world nowadays, there is also a handy app for your smart phone to make navigating this system even easier (New York Subway MTA Map). I am so glad that I chose to commit to wearing tennis shoes for this trip so that we could walk, because we did… constantly! This is another great aspect of NYC that I don’t have back home. Having the opportunity to go out the front door and just walk makes one feel that the world is at your fingertips!

New York is known for having incredible cuisine, which makes it all the more difficult to pick a place! One of our favorite meals was in Chinatown. This unique part of lower Manhattan was certainly on our list of must-sees. Research prior to this trip informed me of a few key places that locals loved and I had one place in mind that I was hooked on after watching an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Nestled in Chinatown (which does seem like it’s own little world) was a place called Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles. It says it all in the name, but I don’t think you could go wrong with ordering anything from this extensive menu. The restaurant itself was tiny, super affordable, and no frills. We ordered General Tsao Chicken (typical Chinese-American favorite), vegetable stir fry with hand-pulled noodles, pork wonton-noodle soup, and some mouthwatering pork fried dumplings. There were several un-labeled sauces on the table that were all tasty and unique as well. This will certainly be a place we visit again soon.

Another absolute favorite from the trip ended up being one of our most expensive meals. Although, it was worth every penny. One of my biggest fears when it comes to traveling is wasting a meal on a bad place. Hence the reason I research restaurants extensively before we go. After a good deal of instagram-stalking, I came across an amazing italian place in Brooklyn called Misi. For this place, I did go ahead and make reservations given it’s popularity. My husband and I ended up here for lunch our second day in NYC where we sat at the chef’s counter. I LOVE interactive places where we get a front row seat to all the crazy action in the kitchen. I often learn new chef skills by just watching too! We ended up sharing lots of small dishes and everything was perfect. The service itself couldn’t have been better either! We started with crostini topped with whipped ricotta and roasted peppers (Ah-MAZING!) and followed with three different pasta dishes! All the pasta is made in house (which makes all the difference) and they all ROCKED. We shared the fettuccine, tortelli, and occhi. Take it from someone who has traveled to Italy twice, this italian experience was top notch!

Now, I could spend all day writing about the incredible meals that we had, but there is one place in particular worth mentioning. A trendy place that is starting to pop up in major cities all across the world is called TimeOut Market. We first stumbled upon this place while walking around South Beach, Miami earlier this year. TimeOut Market is basically an adult cafeteria that houses several of the top restaurants in the city all under one roof. Each featured restaurant serves up a few of their best dishes. So for a traveler with only a few days to explore, this place is perfect. You also don’t have to walk far for a glass of wine, beer, or cocktail. The one in New York is conveniently located just next to the Brooklyn bridge overlooking Manhattan. What a great concept!

Now that we are home, its back to healthy eating and preparing to move into our tiny house! Adventures like this make our journey to minimalism and financial independence even more worthwhile. Sure I may be dragging a fluffier version of myself to the gym this week, but it’s worth the memories of a delicious and exciting trip with my best friend. Another pleasant side affect of a weekend getaway is how much better of a veterinarian I am when I return. Refreshed, renewed, and excited to take on the day! As always, thank you for stopping by. I hope that if anything, this post inspires you to take the trip. Book it. Today.

Here it is. Heart of New York City. Times Square. Named for the… good times you have when you’re in it.” – Michael Scott

The Office

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