Awkwafina’s top tips for first time travelers and the power of staycations

Awkwafina’s top tips for first time travelers and the power of staycations




(CNN) — The characters played by rapper-turned-movie star Awkwafina (Nora Lum) have traveled all over the world: Singapore, China and Los Angeles, to name a few.

But for Awkwafina herself, the most rewarding place to spend her time off continues to be in her beloved home, New York City.

Awkwafina, who you may recognize from “Crazy Rich Asians” and her recent starring role in “The Farewell,” is an outspoken fan of staycations (traveling within your own city or vicinity). The Queens native spends her free time between movie sets exploring hotels across New York City’s boroughs, combining the familiarity of home with the perks of hotel stays for the ultimate out-of-office getaway.

Her latest hotel of choice? The Sixty Soho, a few blocks south of Washington Square Park, where CNN Travel met with the actress to talk all things travel — from her hotel must-haves to an unfortunate mishap at a nude beach.

The actress’ secret to finding the best deals for her last minute getaways came when a co-star recommended the hotel booking app and website HotelTonight. Now, she’s the new face of the app that has helped her navigate hotel booking while juggling an unpredictable filming schedule.

Following is a condensed and edited version of CNN Travel’s conversation with Awkwafina.

Why should more people staycation?

Awkwafina: Our definition of vacations are changing, especially the people in my generation, we don’t have time. Less and less we are planning four week vacations on an island that we’re going to take once a year. When you staycation, you have the benefits of home. At my last staycation, I wanted to bring my PlayStation, so I went back to my house, brought my PlayStation over, and it was awesome. If I’m on an island somewhere, I couldn’t even go to GameStop.

What do you look for in a hotel?

It really depends on the level at which you want to treat yo’ self. When you go on vacation people are always like, ‘Well you gotta turn off your phone, you gotta turn your mind off, just go black, and just don’t speak to anyone.’ And you know it’s always that kind of mentality. For me, I’ve done things where I’ve stayed at hotels to do work there. Just a couple blocks from my house or a 20 minute drive, and in that case you obviously want a good view and some good light. You want a desk, you want Internet. But for me, a perk when I’m in hotels is always a bathtub.

How is technology changing the nature of travel?

It all comes from the phone and this idea that if we want something, we can get it then. When I first discovered HotelTonight, it was on a movie set, and I was looking for a hotel room at the last minute, and a co-star of mine was like, ‘You have to use this app, it’s incredible, you can choose any level of hotel you want.’ That kind of spontaneous get is what really drew me to it, and it really is at the forefront of how we are traveling now. Everything is done through our phone, and a lot of it is done through last-minute decisions.”

Favorite place to travel when you want to take a long vacation?

New York if I’m in LA, or LA if I’m in New York.

Awkwafina (center) in "The Farewell"

Awkwafina (center) in “The Farewell”

A24 Films

What do you crave while on vacation?

Even if I was vacationing in Alaska, I’d still crave a piña colada.

What are your biggest packing tips?

There are two packing methods that I have dabbled in, and I don’t know which one is better. One of them is when people roll their clothes. And sometimes I feel like it doesn’t feel right, and then I recently discovered packing cubes, but then I’m just rolling it into the packing cubes.

Are you reading, watching a movie or sleeping during a flight?

I’m one of those people that falls asleep before we take off. It’s like we get in the seat and I’m done, I’m out. When I wake up I’m not tired anymore, and I go straight for TV. Definitely watching a movie. I watch “Crazy Rich Asians.”

You’ve been in a lot of movies that involve traveling to see friends and family or them coming to visit you. What’s one favorite childhood memory you have of traveling with loved ones?

One time I went to St. Maarten and my dad accidentally, I was 6, took me to a naked beach. He was mortified.

What advice do you have for someone planning their first big trip?

You’re gonna overpack. You’re gonna bring like 15 more outfits, you’re gonna bring outfits that you don’t even wear back home. Bring the going out outfit, the casual outfit, but really remember, when you bring those pants that you bought years ago that still have the tag, they’re not going to make an entrance on your vacation.






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