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Behind the Photo with Hallie Swanson

Article by Kat Johnson 01.08.2019

Fashion and travel expert Hallie Swanson shares her favorite destinations for making memories — and the stories behind her stylish Instagram feed.

In many ways, Los Angeles-based Hallie Swanson is like any busy world traveler, juggling the demands of family and career while jet-setting across the globe. On her blog, Hallie Daily, where she shares both her travel experiences and daily ensembles, she’s highly relatable — eating cupcakes in Laguna Beach with her 10-year-old son, enjoying a fresh snow in Lake Tahoe — she’s just infinitely more stylish than your typical traveler.

Born in China, Swanson settled down with her family in L.A. more than a decade ago. Since then, she’s caught the eye of international fashion circles, landing a coveted spot on Vanity Fair’s Best Dressed List, and expanded her blog into a must-follow Instagram account, @halliedaily. Here, The Ritz-Carlton chats with her about how her personal style, favorite destinations and more-the-merrier packing approach translate into the ultimate fashionista feed.


Swanson with her son in Los Angeles; at The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco

How would you describe your style?

Classic, elegant — with a hint of a French-y romantic touch.

What is your favorite shopping city?

Home is where the heart is, and my shopping heart is in Los Angeles. In addition to famous brands, L.A has lots of great boutiques with their own unique creations, not to mention the Fashion District with buildings full of showrooms. If you can’t find it here, does it actually exist?

But I like to shop in other cities, too, when we travel. Wherever we go, there are farmers markets and locally made items that can be so unusual, beautiful and exciting! I think my best travel shopping experience so far was in Bali, where you can find a treasure trove of items ranging from fine art and handicrafts to unique homewares, antiques, delicately carved jewelry, wooden sculptures, and woven and dyed fabrics — from fixed price to bargains.

You travel the globe. Do you have a favorite travel memory?

My family has traveled together since my son was born, and we have a lot of wonderful memories that we cherish. One that comes to mind was in the summer of 2015, when we stayed in a simple wood and bamboo cabin at a lodge near a mountain village in Belize. It rained that night, really hard, and it sounded like a tropical opera. We cuddled together on the bed, told stories and enjoyed life in nature. If you ask me the same question next week, though, maybe a different favorite memory will come to mind!


Swanson at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara 

Best family destinations?

Anywhere near an ocean. My son is a “water boy,” so we love Hawaii. It’s tropical and beautiful, and my son loves the surfing, swimming and snorkeling there. We also like ocean getaways close to home. We recently had a super enjoyable escape to the ocean at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara. And personally, I have always enjoyed visiting Europe, with its historic and colorful cities that are so different from my native China.

What’s next on your travel wish list?

As a family, we love to explore the Caribbean, so perhaps a cruise — and exploring more of Latin America is definitely on our wish list. It’s a big, glorious world, and we’re always ready and interested in meeting new people and exploring new places.

Most Instagrammable city or favorite backdrop?

Every city has its own beautiful scenes and backdrops. All I need are good eyes and a camera to catch the moment. Because of my son, the ocean has become my favorite backdrop. It can display so many different colors and shapes in different locations — the earth is amazing, isn’t it?


Swanson with her son at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara  

Any tips for getting a great Instagram shot?

“A picture speaks a thousand words.” Before taking any pictures, I first think about what kind of story I want to tell — the beauty of a building on such a beautiful day, a touching moment between family members or just a simple sunset in a relaxing time.

How does a fashion influencer pack efficiently for trips?

I’m not one to ask about efficient packing! “The more, the better” is my usual rule, which is one reason I love road trips, so I can pack extra outfits for unexpected events and photo-shoot opportunities. On an airplane, of course, it’s a different story — then I have to agonize over what to pack and what to leave at home, and even share luggage space with my husband and son.

Do you have a go-to souvenir?

I collect coffee cups! My favorite one so far is a cup with St. Lucia scenes, with my son’s name painted on it.

To keep up with Hallie’s adventures, visit her website at, or find her on Instagram, Twitter and Weibo via @HallieDaily.


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  • San Francisco

    Location San Francisco, California

    Experience Timeless elegance in the heart of downtown San Francisco.

    • A 20-year AAA Five Diamond award winner
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  • Santa Barbara

    Location Santa Barbara, California

    Experience An oceanfront resort for relaxation and adventure.

    • Oceanfront location with three pools
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    • 70,000 square feet of event space