I’ve embarked on a Travel Blogger Q&A Series – These are the amazing people that travel the world and share their stories on their blogs. Through this series, I aim to share a better understanding of travel bloggers apart from their blogs – a little more on the personal side of travel! Join me in this interview with Kristin from Sippin Gypsy!
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My name is Kristin, creator of the Sippin Gypsy blog. I started the blog as a platform to share my experiences with my friends and fellow ‘sippin gypsies’ for great places we have visited and the amazing cocktails we found along our way. Most of us are wives and moms, work full time careers and dream of experiencing the world. As I’ve traveled I have found other incredible women like myself who love experiencing new places and enjoy a little sippin’ and strollin’. My blog offers Quick Tips for where to find great cocktails and cuisine, where to stay and what to do in the cities I have visited. I also have several cocktail recipes inspired by my travels. Cheers!
What is your earliest travel memory?
I grew up in Ohio and had my moms family 8 hours away in Central Pennsylvania and my dads side of the family 6 hours away in Michigan. I can not remember a time for any holiday that we weren’t packing up to get into the car to drive out to see family. I remember we always did something fun when visiting family. In Michigan we visited the Kellogg Factory and went to the zoo, in Pennsylvania we would go to this charming tiny replica of a city called Road Side America. We were always on the go. Our bags were never unpacked for long before we were back in the car.
However, that was just routine…but as far as my first real ‘gets out of town’ and see the world… I have a vague memory of my first trip ever to New York City. I remember going to the observation deck of the Empire State Building, standing on my tip toes and trying to look through the binoculars to see what looked like a never-ending city. It’s a humbling feeling of awe that stays with me to this day. This world was so much bigger than me, and I remember being curious what I didn’t see or know. That same trip we also visited Ellis Island and the Statue Of Liberty. Our family was always very patriotic, and my mom made sure I understood the importance of Ellis Island. It was absolutely incredible to stand by the feet of Lady Liberty and look up at her calm face. She wasn’t standing there in judgement or warning… she was simply holding a light, so travelers coming in dark could see…at least that was how I viewed it. Ellis Island was busy when we visited. There were so many people and they were all so different from me and my family. Many of them had a unique and new style of clothes that I had never seen in real life before, and many of them spoke languages I couldn’t even pretend to understand. It was like I had transported to another world and I remember loving it and being so intrigued. That adventure at the ripe age of barely 7 years old has remained in my memory and certainly has been the catalyst to my drive to meet new people and see new places! Since laptops didn’t exist when I was 7 years old, dreaming of being a travel blogger was never on my horizon…but I did dream of being like Indiana Jones.
Have you ever cried at the airport?
Oh yes. Twice. The first was back when I was 16 years old. My mom and I were flying from Ohio to Florida for a birthday getaway for me. We packed our bags and planned for a girls trip on the beach and at Disney World. Our day started with having to ‘dis-embarq from the plane’ because there was a problem with the engine and we would be assigned to another plane. Slightly scary but ok..a new plane would be safer. Well that new plane arrived and there was another technical issue with that plane too…again came that calm voice “please dis-embarq from the plane’…. Off to ticketing we went… I’m not sure what happened or how, but instead of a direct flight from Ohio to Florida, we were assigned to a last minute flight to Houston Texas where we could pick up a flight into Orlando Florida…. But there were no seats left together. Should I mention I had only flown one other time. Slightly terrified might have been an understatement. It was raining and dark, and I had the middle seat between these two huge men with cowboy hats on. The turbulence was horrifying, the two cowboys were talking loud over me joking with each other “Oh! I hope the plane doesn’t go down!” and I couldn’t even see my mother as she was an additional 10 rows back. I cried.
Fast forward twenty years, I’ve been flying regularly…for work…for fun…airports and planes are a system you have to find your own rhythm with. My routine: earphones and a cocktail. If it’s an overnight flight…Tylenol PM, if it’s a short flight, have a drink before you get on the plane. I know how to pack, I know which airlines nickel and dime you for every carry-on and bag of peanuts, and which ones figured out they should start nickel and diming customers because they can. The second time I’ve ever cried at the airport was when my little three day getaway carry-on was deemed too big and had to be checked. I know not to make a scene at the airport, heaven help someone is PMSing and decides you can’t fly because they don’t like your attitude…. I showed them that it would fit in the carry on size compartment, and they said that the fight was full and that I had a budget ticket and I had to check it or leave it behind…. Deep breath in….tears welling up… biting tongue… this bag that is smaller than a lap dog…would fit under my seat at my feet and this …ahem…’woman’…. Is telling me to check it or leave it…. Well…I paid to check it…but for how proud I am to be American…I have sworn off American Airlines. It was my birthday and I was going to see my cousin who I hadn’t seen in 4 years and American Airlines made me check a bag that is smaller than my kids backpack for school. Yes…I cried…. I cried because I purposely left so many great outfits and shoes at home so that I could get in and out of the airport faster. I cried because that….”woman’ (words changed to make this post reader friendly for all ages) was not polite and usurped her powers as a ticketing agent that doesn’t like her job to ruin the start of my day. She wasn’t nice about it. Maybe someday American Airlines will go bankrupt and I will celebrate to the downfall of an uncompassionate and unfair dictator.
What’s your travel style?
A lot of Facebook groups ask this question. I never really gave myself a travel title and still struggle with these polls and feel a little guilty being non-committal. I have taken adventures hiking and rock climbing. One of my favorites was my week on the Appalachian Trail. I love when I’m sitting and meditating along a peaceful stream, no electronics…just me and nature… its so exhilarating. If I can’t get out on the trails, I like to jog along the nature paths in our local park instead of the gym.
But that isn’t my only travel style (clearly…my blog tag line is “experiencing the world sip by sip”) and I have yet to find an oak tree in the middle of nowhere that crafts a well-made margarita. I love getting into the big cities. I love lights and noise and people… so many people to watch and talk to and learn from. I love the cocktail and cuisine scene in large cities. With so much competition, the stakes are high to impress and be on the front side of trends.
But that isn’t my only travel style… I love history. Someday when someone invents a time machine, I will go back…’way back…back into time’ (Blackstreet). Historic towns are one of my favorite getaways. I get the blend of interesting people, incredible cuisine and cocktails and that ability to walk along streets that were laid hundreds of years ago. I love looking down a cobblestone path or taking in the view of a modest skyline of a historic city or town and wondering what sounds and smells (other than b.o.) would have permeated the air hundreds of years ago in this exact spot.
What is your favourite city?
I am one of those people who doesn’t have just one favorite song, or movie, or book, or style of music or food…I am one of those ‘go with your emotion’ kind of girls… When I’ve had a bad day, for some reason some country music and tequila suit me just fine, and when I want to celebrate, pour the gin and let’s turn up some classic rock. So… to pick a favorite city is very hard to do, when it really depends on my mood and what I want to feel when I want to go back to a city or reminisce about that city. I love New York City. NYC has a pulse and a rhythm that I have never experienced in any other big city. The smells, the energy, the people… New York City is constant stimulation. You meet such interesting individuals, you have endless options for every type of cuisine possible and there is something to do at every minute of the day. This city never ever stops.
But I don’t always want a big city experience. Another favorite city of mine is New Orleans. This city gives me my fix for history, raw live music literally on every corner and another food and cocktail scene that to me set the bar (no pun intended). New Orleans has remained a city that thrives on the passions of her people, I’ve tasted more love and soul in the cocktails and cuisine from New Orleans that I have almost anywhere else. I enjoy that I can toss on a casual comfy outfit and sip and stroll from sun up to sun up.. yes you read that right…New Orleans is another city that never sleeps and you can drink 24/7 there!
However, if I think of a city that just transports me to another time I think of Oberwesel Germany. I had the privilege of staying in this picturesque town a few years back. I walked along a city wall that had been there longer than my own country, America even existed. I strolled through streets with buildings that were centuries old, but offered modern gadgets and tech. The people were incredible and hospitable, and pride of their city shown in how they treated each other and tourists. A man simply walking his dog in a non-tourist part of town was glad to share some history of the homes on his street. The castle was incredible! I may be almost 40, but there is a little girl in me that still gets giddy when she pictures herself in a castle. I did my research, those remodeled castles are nothing like what they were originally built to be. I know that as a fair princess there may be goats and chickens in the bedroom during the winter and that bed was shared with at least four other family members…but it is fun to glance out of the castle, and wonder if another girl once looked through that same window…taking in the view of Oberwesel and the Rhine River. What would’ve gone through her head? Was she watching up river for her lover to come sailing home? Was she hoping the neighbors would stop feuding, so she wouldn’t have to take sides? Was she wondering what to wear since her favorite dress was getting washed? Did she question some of the same things that could go through my mind…centuries later? I’d love to step back into time and Oberwesel was the closest to time travel that I’ve experienced yet… and for that she is a favorite city to me.
What is the weirdest thing you carry while travelling?
Tea. TAZO Passion Tea to be exact. I always toss a few tea bags into my purse for the flight and a small box into my bag for the duration of my travel. There is something so comforting about the flavor. If its cold and rainy, I have hot tea. If its hot I toss a bag into my ice water. And when I’m on the plane…I order Vodka or Gin and ice and toss the tea bag into the cup… Poof! Instant cocktail.
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done on holiday?
Adventurous is such a broad word. You can find adventure in so many activities. But if I were to pick something that really pulled me out of my comfort zone I would choose the time I went rock climbing with a sprained ankle. The trip was already booked, and this was a chance of a lifetime (at least it felt that way at 21 years old.) Unfortunately, the night before I left, I tripped down the stairs and sprained my ankle. Two hours in urgent care and a trip to Walmart at 3 in the morning to get boots that would fit my newly wrapped ankle, I was ready to depart by 8 am the next day. Thankfully the actual rock climbing wasn’t until the third day on the trail. My friends were really supportive, and we stuck to moderate trails and set up camp early each night. I was scared when we reached the base. But we were a tight group and we trusted each other. When I stepped into my harness and started the climb, it was an incredible moment of growth for me. For the first time in my young life, I had doubts in my own body (scared my foot would give out) which meant I had to trust my friends even more. But the pay off was insane. I’ve never had a view like that and I’ve never been so proud of myself pushing against discomfort and making it to the top.
What do you collect when travelling?
Easy. Local liquor and a book. Where ever I go there is always sure to be a book about the history of that city or town. It’s so hard to not splurge on Amazon before I travel, but I want to buy a book from a small shop or book store. I want to ask the clerk which one they suggest to best learn about their beloved city. Secondly: Liquor. So far almost every city or at least region I have visited hosts some sort of local distillery, winery or brewery. I prefer to find a spirit that is made in that city and bring it home with me to play with recipes that remind me of the flavors of that city.
If you could time travel, which era and area would you choose?
“If I could turn back time” (Cher)…funny…I haven’t read all the questions yet, I am just answering them in order. I brought up time travel earlier… I can’t wait for that time machine to be invented. I would be one of the first guinea pigs. I have always had two places I would love to go back to:
Ancient Egypt. I have always been so intrigued by the reign of Akhenaten and Nefertiti. I would love to see the transformations of temples and watch his reign and rebel beliefs and what Egyptians thought and felt. This must have a tumultuous time. Why did Akhenaten deviate from the beliefs of all the other Pharaohs? What did the women think of Queen Nefertiti? What was it like to walk through the marketplace? What were they gossiping about? Did they care who the royal family worshiped? Did they love or hate building temples and pyramids or was it just a paycheck? I am so curious and would love to see, experience and understand.
Medieval Europe: Castles, feuding tribes that would become great world powers, the transition from mud, thatch and stone homes to mighty fortresses then grand castles and palaces… this is so intriguing to me! The infiltration of other beliefs and religions that intertwined into some sort of new hybrid. What was it like to walk through these streets (again, other then the b.o. and flea infested rats) what did these people talk about. What did they think about their overlord or prince? When Rome’s ruling hand came down with a heavy fist, did the sleepy towns far away from the growing cities even know? What ambitions were shared around the pub table. What did ladies dream of and aspire to? What did their food taste like!? Was the wine better than ours today? All of this would be amazing to explore and experience.
Sign me up…I’ll go…and I’ll write a post about it… I think they had open container laws… I could easily fill my pouch with wine and sip and stroll through London or Paris…oui!?
Which is your favourite international meal?
Sometimes I love Italian pasta, sometimes I love a seafood Paella. Give me a flavor packed etouffee and I’m in heaven! Sushi! I could live on sushi for the rest of my life!! My favorite international meal is the fact that as a planet we are now connected more than ever. A lot of cities are embracing global appreciation for cuisine and in one market you can get a little something of anything. Today it doesn’t matter where you are from, if you have a passion for ingredients and techniques and an open mind, you can live in Japan and open the best little French restaurant. Holidays are especially fun to dabble in various cuisines from around the world: each Thanksgiving and Christmas my husband, kids and I each pick a traditional holiday recipe from different countries around the world. Last year our “Christmas dinner” represented Norway, Italy, Panama and Poland. This tradition with my kids has become my favorite international meal. A true multi national meal with cuisines and flavors that are new and different. Finding some of the correct ingredients has been an adventure too. Typical grocery stores usually don’t have what we need, so we go into new shops with rows of cans and jars full of words and sometimes even letters we don’t recognize. And it’s so much fun!
What do you miss most about home when you travel?
If my husband and kids don’t travel with me…it’s them I miss most. If they are with me…Its space to myself that I miss most. Go figure. I want them with me when I’m away and when we’re together I like a little me time.
How does travel make you feel?
I love this question! It reminds me of this game we used to play in school. “I say a word and you say the first other word that comes to mind” ….So I sort of did this with myself… “Travel”…. ”Liberating”…. huh… interesting choice word! I guest because I am so curious about every inch of this planet and what the people are like and what it tastes like, I feel a little more release when I venture somewhere new and have another new experience to add to my treasure chest of curiosities. So travel makes me feel liberated…. empowered… energized… renewed…
Where is the best party scene?
The best party scene? I do not know. I travel with the mindset of the party is where ever I am. While this may sound a little egocentric… please let me elaborate before you roll your eyes at me. I enjoy the moment where ever I am. I don’t need glow sticks, the world’s best DJ and the most posh night club on the strip…but I enjoy that. And can party like that all night long…but I’ve also found sheer and utter happiness with my plastic ‘to go’ cup in New Orleans on a sidewalk while seven guys just start playing music and draw a crowd that turns into its own party. Every moment should be celebrated and can be a party if you allow yourself to find the joy and pleasure in the sights and sounds around you. It can be a swanky Miami Beach hot spot or a local dive bar with a great juke box with your best friends or new local friends. Cheers to enjoying life!
Favourite travel related book?
I am sure you guessed by now, I won’t be committing to one simple title. Self admittedly, I am not very good at picking just one thing when asked my favorite because I react so much on ‘in the moment emotion’… (for those of you psychology majors I’m sure there’s a case study on people like me and some therapy that is supposed to fix me) but until then…My favorite travel related book is the one that I am enjoying from what ever city I just landed in. I love pouring into history, traditions and misconceptions of towns as I begin to explore.
Worst piece of travel advice you’ve received?
I go with the flow when I travel. While I put together an agenda I leave room for suggestions and tips to work or not work out. I follow my instincts before paying money for something and investigate a little more before paying to do something or go somewhere if it’s pricy. Somethings haven’t wowed me like I’ve been told they would, but it’s okay because it is part of an experience. I really don’t have any horrible advice I can think of.
What’s your ritual when you get to a new destination?
I like to land early in the morning if possible. Bags get tossed into the hotel room and I like to get out to find a bookstore and spot for great food and a cocktail while I start reading. I will usually already have a loose agenda, but I gather additional suggestions from the cab driver, the waiter at the restaurant or the clerk at the book store, these are great locals who are usually really in the know for what is where in the city. I also always book a tour of some kind. Lately I have been putting together my own self-guided history walking tours with finding little books and maps for the town I’m in.. so I enjoy a good haunted ghost tour. I want to know where the vampires lurk and which graveyards I can catch glimpse of a spirit. While I’ve yet to encounter either, its fun for me and an additional source of history and back story that sometimes isn’t shared in the books. Before I head to the hotel for an afternoon nap or shower before dinner and an evening out, I like to stop by a local liquor store if I haven’t already done a distillery tour and keep something in my room to keep the cost down on drinking out (cocktails can get pricey!)
Follow Kristin on her amazing travel adventures here –
If you would like to participate in my Travel Blogger Q&A Series, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org for more details!