Globetrotting With… Lyani Powers
A new breed of women are changing the travel narrative, badass professionals who globetrot for work and pleasure. No matter what part of the world these women are stepping through, they always remember to set out in style. It’s imperative for us to come together and share our travel stories because when we do, we inspire other women, just like us, to travel too. Globetrotting Stilettos, we are committed to celebrating YOU!
Designer & Photographer. Co-Owner 5n1designs.com
GTS: Lyani, what is the greatest gift you take away from globetrotting?
Lyani: Inspiration. It exists in every little corner. I’ve always been able to see beauty in things that other people don’t. Even if I’m not going far from home, I still draw inspiration from architecture, color, vegetation, people, it all moves me.
GTS: How does this influence your work?
Lyani: I see beauty in things that people over look so I try to bring those elements to light in my work. If I go somewhere and find what would be considered to others, a piece of junk, I think it’s gorgeous. It ends up hanging over somebodies fire place and looking great. So I think that going and seeing how other people live, how they dress, what they find beautiful—different people find different things beautiful—these encounters definitely influence me. There’s no one global standard of beauty. I go around and taste the variety of beautiful things and try to bring them back not only for myself but for my clients as well.
GTS: Speaking of taste, what’s your go-to safe-food when globetrotting?
Lyani: I try to eat a little bit of everything. I don’t really play it safe! I just take my probiotics before I leave.
GTS: Haha! We like that. So, you’re open to it all?
Lyani: I am. I want to taste it ALL. From grasshoppers to whatever they just pulled out of the ocean, for me, if it’s fried then it can’t be that bad.
GTS: Bonafide Globetrotting Stiletto status! So, do you have a favorite airline to fly on?
Lyani: Jet Blue.
Lyani: Marketing. I’m a sucker for marketing and packaging and they’re just so cute with it.
GTS: They are cute. Okay, but how about internationally because you know Jet Blue doesn’t go everywhere?
Lyani: Cyprus, they have really good snacks.
GTS: Good answer. The most underrated destination you’ve ever visited?
Lyani: I’m going to have to be bias and play it close to home—Puerto Rico. I’m Puerto Rican. It’s underrated. People only go to San Juan but if you actually explore the island you’ll discover a lot of untapped beauty.
GTS: Where’s your favorite place to chill in PR?
Lyani: Culebra. It’s an island off the coast of Puerto Rico. You drive from San Juan to the other side of the country (it doesn’t take that long) and then you take a ferry and go out to Culebra. It’s itty bitty but the sea life is breathtaking. It’s where the natives vacation and go camping.
GTS: I can only imagine. When I was there many years ago to do missionary work. I never knew so many black Puerto Ricans existed until I visited Loiza. It was like, oh my gosh, this is where my people are. It was refreshing to be surrounded by people who look like you.
Lyani: Yes! You don’t see that in the media too much.
GTS: Exactly. I had to be there to witness it and re-write the narrative for myself. Dope experience. So, you like to spend your vacation time… rather than…?
Lyani: I don’t like all-inclusive all the time. When I go on vacation, I pack shoes that I can go hiking in and a bikini that I can lay out in. Relaxation on my vacay is a must. So a little bit of adventure, then, afterwards, I hit a spa.
GTS: Nice. Do you ever just go all out adventure?
Lyani: Yes, then I have to take a vacation right after.
GTS: Haha. Where was your last adventure trip to?
Lyani: The Grand Canyon. Going camping in the middle of the Grand Canyon was on my bucket list. I found this really great tour company to plan an itinerary for my husband and I. The only way down into the part of the canyon that we wanted to go to was by horse or helicopter. I’m like “horse, let’s do it!” Not remembering that my husband had never been on a horse. But we did it! The incline was about 80 degrees, it was insane. And I’m like, I don’t know this horse, he doesn’t know me, I’m just trusting that he likes my energy and we’re going to make it down. We got down to the bottom and then we rode on flat land for hours. We met up with another guy who brought supplies to the reservation and followed him all the way into the camping site. The ride was absolutely gorgeous. It was like all of a sudden it goes from super dry to beautiful reds and then you see a little bit of green and then it just blossoms into this turquoise water fall. We pitched a tent, slept overnight, did some hiking, then packed it back up and took a helicopter out. It felt good to scratch that off the list!
GTS: Now that’s an adventure! So, if you were the last person on earth, you’d wish to be chilling in…?
Lyani: Hmmm… The first thing I think of is good food and just being naked. I have to say Cyprus. I really enjoyed my time there. There’s fish, sun, it doesn’t get too cold but you do feel the season change. Yeah, definitely Cyprus!
GTS: That’s a good one. The one thing you NEED while traveling?
Lyani: Moisturizer with a little bit of sun block.
GTS: First class flights are cool, but?
Lyani: No but! Well, they’re expensive. Other than that I have nothing bad to say about flying first-class.
GTS: When you’re traveling for pleasure do you fly first-class?
Lyani: I do. Not every trip deserves a first-class ticket, though. If I just want a weekend getaway, I’m not going to splurge, I’ll pack my little bag and go. But if it’s something that I’m really looking forward to and it’s going to be a long flight, there’s nothing like comfort. The older you get, the more you appreciate comfort. I flew coach to Cyprus once and ended up getting into a fight with a lady over my pillow. She took the pillow from underneath me while I was sleeping.
GTS: Oh no!The wildest thing you’ve ever done abroad?
Lyani: To keep it nice and safe, I’ll just say skinny dipping in the ocean at night in Tobago. It was fun!
GTS: If you had to choose between the tropics or a cabin in the woods, you’d have to go with…?
Lyani: The tropics. I love a cabin in the woods. I was raised with that, spending summers in the country, but for me, there’s nothing like fresh seafood and seeing the beach and hearing the sound of the ocean when you first wake up.
GTS: When you were younger you always wanted to visit…?
GTS: We know you are! So, the style in… is like no other?
Lyani: Jamaica! Nobody’s touching Jamaica. They take whatever they have and make it whatever they want. I’ve been around the world, but when you go to Jamaica you look at the landscape and it’s so bright and beautiful, blooming with flowers and right beside those flowers is a woman wearing the exact same thing. She’s blooming too.
GTS: That’s JA! So, the food in … is definitely an acquired taste?
Lyani: The food in Vietnam since I’m not used to fish sauce.
GTS: So how do you get yourself acclimated?
Lyani: Keep eating. I was raised that you try everything before you turn your nose up. My mom told me when I was younger, “there are two great things in life: food and sex. One you can have for the rest of your life whenever you want it. So you try everything.” She was talking about food. If I try it and I don’t like it, I’m still going to try it one last time. Not only to make sure but to educate myself on it. Tell me what’s in this, there’s something that I can’t identify. I went to culinary school so my pallet is pretty open and I can usually identify what I’m eating but sometimes there will be a blend of spices that I’m not familiar with and it might catch me off guard. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like it. Introduce me to it, talk to me about it. What am I eating? What’s in it? Once I know what’s in it I can get over it or I can’t.
GTS: … makes the whole travel experience just a bit frustrating for you?
Lyani: Trying to make sure that everything I want to take can actually travel with me and the things that I want to bring back, can actually come back. I always leave room in my suitcase for the return. When I travel, I source items for my clients so if I see something that moves me I’ll purchase it and I need room to carry it back home. I also collect little things like sea shells or rocks and when I get home I write where I picked them up.
GTS: Smart. Every time you travel you always forget…?
Lyani: I always forget to take more pictures.
GTS: I feel the same way. I always come back and look like I thought I captured that.
Lyani: Yes. Oh, and I tend to forget to have someone water my plants.
GTS: The first thing you do when you arrive to your destination?
Lyani: Unpack. I lay everything out. I need to see it.
GTS: You’re a veteran traveler. I do the same thing.
Lyani: I have to identify what I’ve got going on, look at the itinerary, block out a couple of things, put my picture and candle by the nightstand and I’m out.
GTS: Wait, you travel with a picture?
Lyani: Yes. A picture of my family, every time. I have to make sure they’re with me. There are places I wish I can physically take them so I have that picture.
GTS: Love that. Their presence is with you. When on vacay you spend the most money on?
Lyani: I don’t spend a lot of money but when I do spend it’s on experiences more than expensive souvenirs. I’ll go zip -lining or cliff-dive, or I’ll hire someone to take me some place special.
GTS: When you travel to a country and you don’t speak the language, you?
Lyani: Try! I allow myself to laugh at myself and I try to find someone who can help me.
GTS: Haha. So going into it do you try to learn a few phrases?
Lyani: I try to learn more than the phrases because I know I’m going to jack them up. I try to learn the culture, like what do people find offensive, what do people like. I study the people more than the language because I’m not going to get it in a week. I’ll have my phone and whatever translator app that I have and then I’ll try to make sure that I’m compliant and respectful to whatever their ways are.
GTS: The most number of shoes you brought on a weekend trip?
Lyani: Three! I pack my comfortable get around shoes, one going out shoe and a sandal. I just try to make sure that they go with everything.
GTS: I’m impressed! Your friends, family, husband, get embarrassed when you…on vacation?
Lyani: When I get all into taking pictures because I have no chill. Like If have to lie on the ground to get a shot, I’ll lay on the ground to get a shot. My husband believes in me when I shoot so I’ll be doing something crazy and he’ll just be like, “let me hold your head up,” or something funny like that. I’m not shy so if I see something that I want to do or someone that I want to meet, I do it. Sometimes I do travel with people who are a bit more inhibited and they always send me out front. They want to do things but don’t have the guts to do it.
GTS: Exactly! So just to close things off, how do you feel like travel influences your creativity?
Lyani: It’s more about seeing all you can see. Life is short and I think that when you create, you’re dipping into your own personal bucket and when you travel, you’re filling up your bucket with so many different things. So when you dip your spoon into that bucket, you are able to pull out way more than you would if you were just creating on your own without traveling. Go out, people are out there with their own creativity. Go talk and interact with these people. They’re amazing!
GTS: Love that. Adore you.
WAIT, there’s more! Check out Hannah Rhee’s Globetrotting With… feature here. Hannah travels around the world sourcing fabrics for the Michael Kors Men Collection. Yeah, she’s a pretty big deal.