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local time travels: andrea kowalski

local time travels: andrea kowalski

Written by Gabriela Délano-Stephens

Andrea is the definition of a world traveller. She has pretty much been everywhere and is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to best places to go. She is the co-founder of a venture capital fund that invests in young startups, working with Australian businesses that are going after global opportunities. She is fascinated by her day to day as she gets to spend her time learning about new technologies & business ideas. She is also in start up mode so wears a dozen different hats... always having to figure out how to complete the next task! 
women who travel
Where is your base?
New York
What culture do you identify with most?
That is a difficult one! My father is Polish and my mother is Italian. The two cultures can be vastly different but overlap in the importance they place on local (and homemade!) food, family, tradition and an appreciation of nature. 
 
The travel location you find yourself recommending to people most often. 
Georgia. The country is a fascinating mix of architecture and culture (European, Persian, Arabian, Ottoman) and it has the most incredible food (the freshest produce I've ever had). The countryside is spectacular -- it's an absolute must to hire a car and drive North towards Russia and spend a couple days at Rooms hotel in Kazbegi, staring across the valley at the highlands & Gergety Trinity Church. I'd also recommend taking the overnight train to Armenia. I've said now on several occasions that the next place I'm going to live is Yerevan!
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Walk us through your travel essentials (products, gadgets, travel hacks, whatever you do to make your travel experience more smooth).
If I think through the items I would be devastated not to have on my travels it would be these three: 
  • My LARQ water bottle -- it keeps water cold for the longest of flights and uses an LED light to purify
  • My Lunya eye mask -- it is honestly my equivalent of a child's favorite stuffed animal ... I can't sleep without it 
  • Rest sachets from LocalTime -- they have absolutely transformed my frequent work trips from New York to Australia. My favourite aspect of the Rest formula is that even if I have only 4 hours to sleep, I find myself waking from a deeply restful state and wake feeling refreshed, never groggy.  
In terms of travel hacks, I made a significant change to my travel behavior about 3 years ago for the really long-haul flights (mainly from NYC to Sydney). I was always so focused on getting to my final destination as quickly as I could, until I realized that arriving in a more rested and rejuvenated state meant I could make more of my time on the ground. I now select flights with a longer total journey time (by about 4-5 hours) so that I can transfer through Hong Kong airport (instead of LA) and I try to optimize my connections so that I have 2-3 hours in HKG. I spend that time in one of Cathay's lounges (specifically, the Pier), which is an experience in of itself. I genuinely look forward to my time there -- they have done an amazing job on the interior with minimalist styled shower rooms, calming light throughout, welcoming reading nooks, a gorgeous tea room, an area for a quick nap (essential if you miss a connection!), a yoga room and my favorite...the fresh noodle bar. Each space has its own feel and taking this 'pause' in my travels really helps offset some of the fatigue on my body of long-haul flights.   
 

What part of you does traveling fill?

An innate curiosity of what life is like elsewhere and why people are the way they are. It's also the greatest fulfillment of my desire for adventure and a creative outlet -- to step into the unknown with a blank canvas.  

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How would you describe your travelling style.

It really depends on the time I have available -- whenever possible I have combined travelling with work so I could stay anywhere from 1 month to 2 years in a destination ... I want to understand what it's like to really "live" in a place. When that's not possible I'm a planner, but anything but rigid! I like to research and map out all the things to do & places to see ahead of time, so that I'm "prepared" to make the most of the limited time I have, but I so rarely stick to that plan and always leave myself completely open to the spontaneity that comes with travelling -- like when you connect with someone at a coffee shop and finding yourself dancing at a roof top party a couple hours later! 

 

How has travel played a role in who you are today?

Travel has been one of my most influential teachers, I would be a completely different person without it. The privilege I've had to experience firsthand a different way of living & the discomforts that can accompany the unfamiliar has translated itself into every aspect of my daily life -- the ability to see a different perspective, to better understand the motivations of others, to trust in my ability to navigate certain challenges. Travel has pushed me outside of my comfort zone time and time again. It's pushed me to build support networks in foreign destinations where I knew no-one, to enjoy my own company for extended periods of time and to question the biases I grew up with. I don't believe these learnings can be replicated in a classroom and for me their value is priceless. 

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Describe your favorite current life hacks.

Online workouts with @socialclubny (I have zero affiliation!). I was previously notorious for starting a class online and then "pausing" it 10 minutes in, never to return. Javi's classes are different -- his energy is infectious and the music is amazing. I connect my headphones and feel like I'm treating myself to an hour of dancing. I can't believe I actually get a work out at the same time!  

 

What belief, behaviour or habit has most improved your life? 

To slow down. To take the scenic route when walking to meetings, to allow time for small exchanges with more people in my day-to-day life. It goes against my nature and so I've been trying to consciously cultivate the habit of allowing for time every day that's not taken up by work, life admin & other commitments. It's time that lets me simply ... exist.

 

What is lighting you up right now?

I witnessed the most amazing sense of community over the past six months as New York fought through the height of the pandemic, which only strengthened when the BLM movement began. I've been in awe of the willingness of so many to listen, to empathize and to learn. I think the pandemic has eliminated a lot of the clutter we didn't appreciate was so unhelpful and creating space in people's minds and hearts. This space has brought what really matters back into focus and I love how that brings a realness to the people around me, as they are making decisions with a renewed clarity of what they value most (myself included). 

women who travel