Explorer Spotlight: Aly Michalka

Photo: Aly Michalka

Photo: Aly Michalka

Actress, musician and singer-songwriter Aly Michalka has a well worn passport. In addition to spending her teen years starring on the Disney Channel, she formed the musical group Aly & AJ with her sister in 2004 and quickly began touring. After a hiatus, the duo has been back in recent years with new music, and the release of this year’s EP Sanctuary has them touring throughout North America and Europe.

Aly’s other partner in adventure, director husband Stephen Ringer, has photographed her throughout their travels and in the past few months his mesmerizing shots of the beauty have surfaced on the covers of YOLO magazine and Angelika Taschen’s book Great Escapes: Italy. In addition to sharing some of their candid travel snaps with us, Aly opened up about her efficient packing (and unpacking) strategy, club sandwiches, and the country whose culture has impacted her the most.

Full name (as APPEARS on passport)

Alyson Renae Michalka 

Miles traveled last year

Oh geez... Traveled throughout the country via bus to forty different cities & then five cities in Europe via trains and planes as part of a music tour with my sister AJ. A dozen flights to/from Vancouver for work and also flew to Mexico, Australia, and Italy twice.

So, a lot.

What is your earliest memory of falling in love with travel?

As a teenager when my sister and I started touring, then reignited when I met my husband. I’m always trying to find the feeling I had the first time we pulled into Deetjens together.

Photos: Aly Michalka (with sister AJ)

Photos: Aly Michalka (with sister AJ)

Given the choice of anyone in the world, who would you want as a seat neighbor on a plane?

Obama! But I’d want window.

Thoughtful planner or spontaneous adventurer?

Spontaneous adventurer and my husband is the thoughtful planner so it’s a good match.

Ideal vacation


If you could change one thing about your travel habits, what would it be?

To pack just a tad bit lighter.

Photos: Aly Michalka (in Rome)

Photos: Aly Michalka (in Rome)

Best travel hack

Miniaturize everything. All of my products are travel size to save space! Pellicano Hotels had a great GOOP style recommendation app that they let lapse and now it won’t work on my phone. Please ask Marie Louise to update it!

Packing rules

I usually pack a week out from traveling & I also unpack immediately when I get back. That’s a must! I hate when luggage lingers at home.

Carryon or Checked?

Filson checked bag.

Photos: Aly Michalka

Photos: Aly Michalka

Travel uniform

Lucy Folk one piece jumper & my Carvil loafers.

Favorite plane read

YOLO Journal.

Always in your carry on

A book & hand fan by Duvellroy. Also, NEVER ever ever check in jewelry! 

Current travel playlist

Tycho’s album Awake.

Photos (L top - R): Yolo Magazine // Tycho’s Awake // Aly Michalka (in Rome)

Photos (L top - R): Yolo Magazine // Tycho’s Awake // Aly Michalka (in Rome)

In flight routine

Curl up in a ball & sleep as long as possible! I usually end up sleeping 75% of every flight.

Best travel accessory

Compression socks.

Favorite beach

Tamarama Beach in Sydney.

Photos (L-R): Aly Michalka (at Tamarama Beach) // Silas Baisch

Photos (L-R): Aly Michalka (at Tamarama Beach) // Silas Baisch

Strangest thing you’ve carried across a border

Washed up pieces of broken tile from Portofino’s shoreline.

most treasured possession from your travels

Probably this sapphire and gold necklace I found in Venice at a shop that acquires all their pieces from other countries. It’s so special and reminds me of my honeymoon. It’s also a reminder of the beautiful things that flow in and out of Venice.

Favorite hotel

Il Pellicano.

Favorite hotel bar

Hotel Locarno in Rome or L’Hotel in Paris.

Photos (L-R): L’Hotel // Aly Michalka (in Paris)

Photos (L-R): L’Hotel // Aly Michalka (in Paris)

Room service order

Club sandwich or scrambled eggs and bacon. 

Favorite workout on the road

I like to think all the walking I do when I travel counts as my “work out”. WundaBar Movement is a great on-the-go Pilates mat class you can take on your computer.

Place you’d like to go next


One city you’d like to live in 


Photos (L-R): Aly Michalka (in Rome) // Carlos Ibanez

Photos (L-R): Aly Michalka (in Rome) // Carlos Ibanez

Best place to ring in the New Year

I’d say at home with close friends & family. NYE parties are kind of overrated in my opinion.

Best quality in a travel partner

Someone who can go with the flow and isn’t fixated on sticking to a schedule.

Strangest thing you've eaten in a foreign country

Squid Ink pasta at da Ivo in Venice. It has a sweet taste to it that I’m just not a fan of.

If you knew that you could only visit one more place before you die, where would it be?

Morocco. I’ve only been once but it really opened my eyes to a whole other culture. There is so much beauty there, not only in the landscape but the people too. 

Photos: Aly Michalka (in Morocco)

Photos: Aly Michalka (in Morocco)

CultureAlex Merrell