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: Ashley Niedringhaus
Occupation: Freelance Writer and Global Contributor for Travel + Leisure
Hometown: Saint Louis, Missouri
Residence: Bangkok, Thailand
College: Marquette University
College major: Journalism and International Affairs
Short bio: I’m an ASME-nominated magazine writer and guide book editor with an eye for crafting the perfect gift guide, mastering an international travel itinerary and penchant for big cities. Now you’ll find me in Bangkok, Thailand with my husband and puppy, but I’ve lived and worked in New York City, Paris and Ahmedabad, India.
Currently, I am a Global Correspondent for Travel + Leisure (where I am also their Bangkok local expert), covering trends, openings, food, hotels, personalities, and up-and-coming neighborhoods across Bangkok, the Thai islands, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam. In addition to Travel + Leisure, my work has appeared in Food & Wine, Beyond, Real Simple, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, and Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia.
How often do you fly? 2-5 times a month.
How many countries have you been to? 20
How many continents have you been to? 4
Earliest travel memory: Family road trips to Keystone, Colorado and flying with my grandfather in his airplane.
Favorite American city: New York City, my home before moving to Bangkok.
Favorite international city: Paris. I spent six months there in 2008.
Least favorite country: Happy to say I don’t have one.
I have no desire to go to: On a big cruise.
Friendliest people in the world: Thai.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: I had a really bad experience with the immigration officers in Delhi back in 2007. I’m going back to India in December and I’m hoping for a more positive experience.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Angkor Wat.
Favorite airline: Domestic is Southwest and I always spend the $12 for early bird check-in. I love the airline, but Southwest’s passengers can be pushy and persnickety about lining up in exact numerical order. Early bird helps avoid that. For international, Cathay Pacific but would welcome anyone who would fly direct from Bangkok to the US.
Favorite aircraft type: The kind with good legroom and recent releases on the in-flight entertainment.
Aisle or window: I go both ways. For short flights or trips where I need to sleep, I pick the window. When it’s a long-haul flight I go for the aisle. My husband is 6’2” so I end up in the middle when we fly together. How about that for unconditional love?
Favorite airport lounge: Hong Kong’s Cathay lounge for the noodle bar.
Favorite U.S. airport: Anyone that has good, healthy food options. Can a girl get a green juice, please?
Favorite international airport: Hong Kong.
Favorite ho Mandarin Oriental Bangkok and the St Regis in New York.
Favorite cruise line: None. I have no desire to go on a cruise.
Favorite travel credit card: Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Favorite island: Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef.
Favorite beach: Railay Beach in Krabi, Thailand.
Favorite fancy restaurant: 21 Club in New York City or Botswana Butcher in Queenstown, New Zealand.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: In Chiang Mai, Khao Soi Lamduan has been serving the same khao soi recipe for almost 90 years. It’s amazing.
Favorite bar: The Bamboo Bar in Bangkok.
Favorite fruit: Pineapple.
Favorite food: Cheese.
Least favorite food: Durian.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): In the air: soda water. On the ground: Negroni.
Favorite travel show(s): Parts Unknown.
Favorite travel book(s): “Oh, The Places You’ll Go”:
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
Right now I am reading: “Going Clear” by Lawrence Wright.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: Afar, Travel+Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides Hundredbacklinks.com, of course! The Points Guy, NYT 36 Hours.
5 things you bring on a plane: iPad loaded with magazines from the NextIssue app, a pen for customs forms, socks, Bose headphones, and a really rich eye cream.
What do you always seem to forget? Razor.
What do you like least about travel? Selfie sticks in museums and bad hotel pillows.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Wine! In Thailand, vino is considered a luxury good and so it’s heavily taxed.
Favorite travel app(s): TripIt, Instagram, Snapchat, Postable, Google Maps.
Most embarrassing travel moment: Accidentally brushing my foot against the head of the woman giving me a foot massage in Thailand. Feet touching the head is a big, big faux pas.
I’m embarrassed but I haven’t been to: The Grand Canyon.
Worst travel moment: My luggage went missing for two weeks when I was in India and had to go shopping in Ahmedabad for things to wear. I’m 5’10” and even basic women’s items, like T-shirts, barely covered my midriff. I stocked up on men’s cotton T-shirts at a United Colors of Benetton in solid colors and wore them my entire trip.
What’s your dream destination? My husband and I are planning a month-long trip to Africa in 2017. I want to see gorillas in Rwanda and just get lost in the beauty of it all.
Favorite travel charity: Kiva. My parents gave me a gift card almost six years ago and I love finding self-starting women to support with microloans. I’m a firm believer in being a mindful tourist. I just got back from Myanmar where a huge portion of the country is devastated by horrible flooding. Our guide helped us find a local monastery in Bagan that was collecting items for flood victims. The monks told us drinking water was the most needed item, so we spent $100 at a local supermarket buying water. Our guide pitched in money as well, and we were able to send 700 one-liter bottles of water to local villages the next day.
Best travel tip: Never underestimate the power of a good guide and printed documents. Also, if you’re going to buy an iPhone, get it from the Apple store where it automatically comes unlocked. Popping in a local SIM card and having access to data and maps is a powerful thing.
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