Interview: Laura Michonski of NewYork.com

by Trazee Travel

Aug 22, 2015

© Mandritoiu | Dreamstime

© Laura Michonski

© Laura Michonski

Name: Laura Michonski


Profession: Site director for NewYork.com, travel editor, digital strategy expert


Age: 30-something 😉


Packing tip? Wrinkle-free clothes! Choose clothes that are not likely to wrinkle — not only do they travel better and remove the pressure to hang everything up immediately upon arrival, they also give you the option to mix and match throughout your trip, another packing strategy I employ often. I like to pack just a handful of items that can be combined in various ways to create multiple outfits. I especially like items that can be dressed up or down as needed (sometimes all it takes to transform your afternoon sightseeing outfit into your evening wear is a thoughtful piece of jewelry and a pair of pumps). I also recommend packing at least one change of clothes, a swimsuit and your make-up (if you wear make-up) in your carry-on. Of course you hope your airline won’t lose your luggage, but it never hurts to be prepared and the most annoying things to replace, in my opinion, are makeup and swimsuits.


Favorite travel memory? My boyfriend (now fiancé) knew I had always wanted to see the Aurora Borealis and so, for my birthday, he surprised me with a trip to Sweden! He took me out to the Aurora Sky Station in Abisko, Sweden, where we saw the Aurora Borealis. Afterward, we went dog-sledding to a remote log cabin and spent the night deep in the Swedish wilderness. It was definitely one of the most memorable, romantic trips of my life. It’s also when I knew he would be the man I would marry.


Bucket list destination? There are so many, it’s hard to list just one. But right now, Vietnam is on my list. I’d love to do a tour of the country — the food sounds amazing, the beaches are breathtaking (I fantasize about relaxing on the beaches of Ha Long Bay) and I’ve been wanting to hike through Son Doong Cave since it opened to visitors a few years ago.


Favorite off-the-beaten-path spot? Easter Island. It’s like nowhere else on earth. The island has such a fascinating history and the landscape, with its legendary Moai, is hauntingly beautiful.  I stayed at the Explora Rapa Nui, which is a spectacular, all-inclusive resort by the shore. I’m not normally a fan of all-inclusives, but in this case I fell in love with the experience — everything was memorable from the food to the daily, guided excursions. The property was specifically designed to blend into the land and each of the rooms is outfitted with huge windows that make you feel like you’re outside, even when you’re relaxing inside. I also loved how all of their guides are locals who are incredibly knowledgeable about the region’s history.


What kind of traveler are you? More than anything, I’m an explorer. I love exploring new places, learning new things, trying new foods. I have an adventurous streak, too — I like challenging myself physically as well as intellectually, so you’re just as likely to find me hiking or rock climbing or taking scuba diving lessons as taking a cooking class or visiting museums. I like relaxing too, but in small doses.


Funniest travel story? Years ago, a friend and I had taken a weekend trip to the Hamptons and planned to go biking among the vineyards. Little did we know the last train of the season would be leaving before we did. Since the closest train station was closed for the season, my companion and I ended up frantically biking 50 miles only to miss the last train for the weekend. We found ourselves stranded in a small Long Island town on a Sunday night with nothing but B&Bs that were closed for the night. We ended up crashing a wedding to ask for help finding accommodations (fortunately, the event staff took pity on us and helped us out). At the time, I didn’t work for NewYork.com, which is a great resource for planning New York-based trips. Nowadays, when friends ask me for advice on wine tasting in Long Island, I recommend the North Fork Winery Tour, where a nice, comfy bus takes you directly from Manhattan out to the wineries and back — no leg-busting bicycling involved.


Best meal you’ve had on your travels? I have had so many amazing meals it’s nearly impossible to identify just one (and it’s all the harder when you consider I live in New York City, one of the dining capitals of the world). But the most recent standout is from a trip to Cartagena. I ate at a restaurant called Carmen and for a fraction of the price we would have paid for a similar experience in New York, I had one of the most inventive, enjoyable meals I’ve had in a long time. I loved the way they combined local ingredients, especially the dazzling array of fruits native to the region, into international dishes.


Craziest thing you’ve done while traveling? Taking a scuba diving class in Mexico. That wouldn’t be such a crazy story except for the fact I only marginally speak Spanish and the class was entirely in Spanish. If it seems obvious you should not learn a new and potentially dangerous sport in a foreign language, then you’re smarter than me. In my defense, at the time I was dating a man who spoke Spanish and I hoped he would translate for me. Unfortunately, as it turned out, he was so terrified of scuba diving, he was too focused on what the instructor was saying to translate. I muddled my way through and after an initial panic attack during which I refused to follow the group into the water, I eventually figured things out and enjoyed the excursion. But I definitely don’t think signing up for that experience was the smartest thing I’ve ever done.


Favorite item collected from your travels? My fiancé and I bought a beautiful hand-woven rug in Istanbul and it is the highlight of our living room. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it reminds me of my trip every time I look at it.


Where next? I’m getting married Sept. 6, and afterward we are heading to Bora Bora for our honeymoon. Some little girls dream about their wedding for years, but I have been dreaming about my honeymoon ever since I was a five and it has always involved an overwater bungalow in French Polynesia.



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