Want to know how to travel in style, just like the pros? We check in with frequent fliers to find out how often they fly, their favorite destinations and what they never leave home without.
Name: Arabella Bowen
Occupation: Editor-in-Chief, Fodor’s Travel
Residence: New York City
Bio: As Editor-in-Chief of Fodor’s Travel, Arabella Bowen leads the brand’s content strategy across all formats, from guidebooks to web. The former Rough Guides author and travel start-up veteran has been recognized with several Lowell Thomas awards and Webbys, most notably for Fodor’s website, blog, and apps. Bowen often shares her travel expertise with CBS This Morning, CNN, TODAY, USA Today, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and the Associated Press.
How often do you fly? Twice a month, sometimes more.
How many countries have you been to? 60+
How many continents have you been to? 6. Antarctica is the lone hold-out.
Favorite American city: New York and Los Angeles. Yeah, I swing both ways.
Favorite international city: Just one? There’s a 13-foot-long panorama of Berlin tacked up in my office, but I’m just as partial to Venice, London, Tel Aviv, Paris, and Marrakech.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: If an airport can represent a country, JFK. I’ve never understood why an airport with so many international arrivals doesn’t have friendly, multi-lingual greeters on hand to help visitors fill in immigration forms and navigate the customs hall. I’d happily volunteer for the job if it made the line move faster and visitors happier!
Favorite World Heritage Site: Hoi An, Vietnam. I went for the historic merchant houses and evocative alleyways and came away with a lasting taste for cao lau noodles, a local dish that can’t be made anywhere else in the world.
Favorite airline: Porter Airlines by a mile. The Canadian carrier consistently lives up to its boutique-airline billing, and proves you can have high-style at low-cost. Think free premium beer and wine in the air; free snacks and water in all-access, Wi-Fi-equipped airport lounges; and flight attendants dressed in snappy uniforms with pillbox hats. I would fly them anywhere.
Favorite aircraft type: Puddle jumper—the smaller the better. Nothing beats sitting beside the pilot and seeing the landscape unfold beyond the windshield.
Aisle or window: Window all the way. I get crabby on the aisle.
Favorite airport lounge: Cathay’s business-class lounge in Hong Kong (that Noodle Bar, that balcony).
Favorite U.S. airport: I have a thing for small airports that convey a strong sense of place. Jackson Hole (JAC) does this brilliantly: Spectacular Teton views, gorgeous wood-timbered design, Western art, fireplace in departures.
Favorite international airport: Gustaf III (SBH) has no amenities whatsoever. It’s the daredevil landing that counts, onto a narrow runway that ends right on St. Jean Beach.
Favorite ho I am way too much of a hotel junkie to pick just one. I love all of them, from the C’Mon Inn to the Villa D’Este. Really.
Do you unpack into the dresser/closet? Or live out of your suitcase? Depends on how long I’m staying put. One night only: definitely out of suitcase.
Favorite island: Corsica, France, has it all, from fabulous beaches and seaside glam to rugged mountains and captivating hilltop towns.
Favorite beach: Tulum, Mexico. Seven miles of sand, rustic cabañas, yoga retreats, full-service resorts, and an Instagram-worthy Mayan ruin right on the sea.
Favorite fancy restaurant: I never say no to Jean-Georges.
Favorite hole in the wall: The Lexington Candy Shop on New York’s Upper East Side is usually my first stop when I’m in town on a Sunday. I crave their chocolate malteds.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): White wine at 10,000 feet; a Negroni up on the ground.
Favorite travel movie(s): The Talented Mister Ripley (all that Italy…).
Favorite travel show(s): The Amazing Race.
Right now I am reading: “Best American Travel Writing 2013.” At Fodor’s, we focus so much on encapsulating a place that reading long travel narratives is a wonderful change of pace.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides Hundredbacklinks.com, of course! Fodors.com, naturally! Atlas Obscura and The Selby are other top sites (in fact, we like Todd Selby so much, we made him a Fodor’s Tastemaker).
5 things you bring on a plane: iPad loaded with TV shows (enables my binge watching tendencies; I’m currently catching up on Friday Night Lights); Bose noise-canceling headphones (they shut out everything); Kindle loaded with eBooks; Us Magazine; Fodor’s guide; gum. OK, that’s six.
What do you always seem to forget? The lighter you travel, the less you’re apt to forget.
What do you like least about travel? Overhead bins stuffed with Rollaboards. Don’t get me started.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport duty-free store? Campari (critical for home-made Negronis).
Favorite travel app(s): Kayak, Hotel Tonight, Instagram, TripIt, GateGuru, Fodor’s City Guides.
Most embarrassing travel moment: The first time my husband and I traveled together internationally, I brought an expired passport to JFK by mistake. After a frantic call to the airline to bump us to a later flight and a dead-silent cab-ride home and back again to get my correct documents, I wound up on the SSSS list and received pat downs at every pre-flight security checkpoint. So much for being a travel pro, he said.
What’s your dream destination: I’m all about Bs these days: Bhutan, Beirut, Burma/Myanmar, Botswana.
Favorite travel charity: After the earthquake in Haiti, I volunteered in Port-au-Prince with Haitian Education Leadership Program (HELP), the country’s largest scholarship NGO. That experience really taught me what a powerful impact voluntourism can make on a local and personal level.
Best travel tip: Always, always, always carry-on.
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