Well-Traveled: Simply Cyn
The first thing that catches your eye when you look at Cynthia Andrew’s site Simply Cyn and namesake Instagram is her vivid use of color in her photography. Whether she’s in the Seychelles, Mexico or Madrid, she can turn any enclave into a colorful tableau brightened by her outfits and accessories. I’ve been following her travels for over a year now and can say with confidence there’s no color that doesn’t suit her. A lawyer by day, she’s a world traveler in her free time, bringing readers around the world on her solo and group travels. I spoke to Andrew about how she juggles her 9 to 5 with traversing the globe and what tips she has for female travelers before they embark on a trip.
When and why did you launch Simply Cyn?
Cynthia Andrew: I started blogging as something else, Addicted to Etsy, in 2009/2010. I was sourcing a lot of things for my wedding from there and thought there were a lot of people making interesting things on the platform. I transitioned into Simply Cyn in 2015 because I really just wanted an outlet to share the things I found interesting. I was traveling more and wanted to share what I liked hoping to be a source of inspiration or a resource for other travelers. I felt that I needed something outside my 9 to 5. The site’s content has expanded beyond travel and now I also post the clothes I wear, jewelry and actually still some Etsy, however, travel is my main focus.
Have you always loved traveling or did a certain occasion spur your wanderlust?
The first trip that got me hooked was when I studied abroad in Paris — that lit a fire in me. Traveling, to me, makes everything possible because the world becomes bigger and people become more accessible. I’ve been traveling ever since, a little less when I was in law school, but then when I started my job and had a little more money I was back at it. I’ve leaned on national holidays and extended weekends to make things happen. I can make a trip happen in a short time; I went to Seychelles for four to five nights, for example. When I go somewhere I just try not to do everything and limit myself to a few things so I don’t overextend myself. However, in the past two months, I’ve taken some time off of work for some new projects that were too good to pass up.
What are some of your favorite destinations you’ve traveled to and why?
It changes! Some places that made me feel really great:
1. Istanbul: The energy is amazing. The people are positive and it’s just a great place to be.
2. Amsterdam: I go back here all the time. They have a chill vibe that works for me and it offers all of the things I love about New York.
3. Cartagena: I’ve only been once, last fall, and I loved my interactions with the people, the culture, the energy and the food. I love places that give me a sense of wonder or alternatively, a sense of familiarity even though it’s somewhere different. Cartagena feels familiar and warm.
4. Seychelles: I like that it’s in Africa, and I love how unique and different it is form what people picture when they think of Africa.
What are some places you didn’t like as much as you expected?
A lot of times your travel experience can be determined by who you meet and the weather, so for me, my trip to Brussels and Bruges probably needs a re-do. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the best time there but I might give a different review in the future.
I noticed that recently you’ve been doing shoots with other influencers. Who are some of the people you’ve partnered with and what do you enjoy about doubling up? Where were some of these shoots?
I’ve taken on some shoots that I normally wouldn’t be able to participate in because of my work schedule. Over the past two months, I’ve said yes to some press trips and collaborations with women I’m fans of. I love posting pictures with amazing women in travel, fashion, or entrepreneurs like Kiitan or Paola. I would love to shoot with Kiki Wong, she’s so great. Or Lisa Linh who writes the most amazing blog posts. I’ve met so many people that collaborate with in photos whether it’s in a photo or in the creation process. There’s a lot to learn from other women and I love to learn.
What’s your advice for traveling solo as a woman?
Traveling solo is the best but you do have to be sensible and smart as a woman. You have to educate yourself on where you’re going, solo isn’t dangerous but you have to be aware. I always look at the State Department website before I go somewhere. If I know a city well like New York or Paris, then I would do an Airbnb. If I’m going somewhere unfamiliar like Istanbul, I would choose a hotel in a more central place. You have to educate yourself about a place and your homework about the culture, the attitude towards women, and language. Then I would say you should have general awareness, plus safety and education you can move ahead.
What are the beauty products you have to take with you on the road?
There are two things I always have with me. One is Dickinson Witch Hazel Wipes which I use as a toner and is also easy to clean and refresh my face. Two, I recently starting using Panacea which I love. I’m really strict about washing my face and I want to cry whenever I travel without it. I also love Morphe concealer. I’ll feel good with those three products.
How do you incorporate sponsorships into your travel photography? Is it ever challenging to merge ads with your lifestyle photos?
It’s difficult, to be frank. Let’s talk about the reality of this space, sponsors working with influencers has only been happening for about two years and there’s a lot to learn. Some of my partnerships have been seamless, some have not. Let’s say I’m in Italy and then something gets approved from a brand after a few months, throwing it up on my social media can be jarring like an ad when you’re watching a show. Also, some people come to my site for travel and they don’t want to see me talk about face wash or lipstick. Nevertheless, I think it’s great because it’s made money for bloggers and influencers. I’m trying to figure out how to do this, and one thing I’ve learned is really to stick to my guns, I’ll say no. I prefer to work with brands that are already in my house. In the beginning, I was just so excited to get any money but it’s empowering to be able to say no.
For those who don’t follow you yet, how would you describe your aesthetic on Instagram? And what can people see on your platform they can’t see elsewhere?
Three things— positivity, a lot of color, and the fact that I don’t take myself too seriously. I’m such a kid. I love good energy and things that make me feel good. For me, it’s hard to watch the news sometimes because it seems we all believe the worst in each other. I don’t travel like that. If someone treats me crappy on a trip I don’t automatically think it’s racism, which it very well might be, but I just don’t have the energy for that. I keep it moving. I look for interactions that make me feel good. I look for color in places where it seems like there isn’t any at first glance. That’s my philosophy. When I was younger, I didn’t have as many friends, I started college a few years early. I was a bit of a loner and an introvert, Now I’m all about embracing people and experiences. That’s my platform.
Where are you off to next?
Thailand. I was in Bangkok two years ago and didn’t do much but this time I’m going to Koh Samui, Chiang Mai and the Golden Triangle. I’m very excited. I’m trying to do all of this in six or seven days, two nights in each. Then I’ll probably chill for a bit as I’ll have tons of video and writing to do.
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