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: Bob Eckstein
Occupation: Humorist, writer, cartoonist and snowman expert
Hometown: Medford, Long Island
Residence: New York City
College: Pratt Institute
College major: Illustration
Short bio: New Yorker cartoonist, New York Times bestselling author of “Footnotes from the World’s Greatest Bookstores,” columnist, award-winning illustrator, and world-renowned snowman expert (author of holiday classic, “The History of the Snowman”).
How often do you fly? Not often—every couple of months. I travelled far more when I spent seven years around the world researching my snowman book. That was ten years ago when seats had more legroom.
How many countries have you been to? 15. I was a late bloomer. I didn’t make it out of New York by myself until I was in my twenties. And that was a trip to New Jersey. I wish I was kidding.
How many continents have you been to? Three…how many are there? Six, seven? Geez, that looks terrible, please don’t kick me off here.
Earliest travel memory: Sleeping in the back of a wood-paneled station wagon arriving in Amish Country and seeing a whole fish served on my father’s plate. I believe this is my earliest memory ever…of anything possibly.
Favorite American city: I used to love Washington, D.C.
Favorite international city: Bruges is outstanding.
Least favorite country: Upper Volta—I picked one I’ll probably never show up in.
I have no desire to go to: A bullfight.
Friendliest people in the world: Insurance salesmen.
Favorite airline: Sprint. I like that their website is hand-drawn.
Favorite aircraft type: Those on time.
Aisle or window: Briefs.
Favorite airport lounge: Nobody will have me.
Favorite U.S. airport: I assure you nobody has EVER said LaGuardia, NYC but their Delta terminal has free gambling. A three-hour winning streak can win you a large cookie.
Favorite international airport: London Heathrow.
Favorite ho Les Tourelles, Le Crotoy, France (didn’t expect an elegant answer, did you?).
Favorite cruise line: Norwegian.
Favorite island: Iceland. It’s where I eloped in 2000.
Favorite beach: I don’t like the beach.
Favorite National Park: Glacier National Park, Montana.
Favorite bar: I don’t drink.
Favorite fruit: It’s not the durian. I tried this exotic fruit and it lasted like a cross between a garlic clove and a baby’s diaper.
Favorite food: Sandwich.
Least favorite food: Stuffed cabbage made by my mom. I dearly love her but not her stuffed cabbage.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Num Pang Sandwich Shop in NYC. Try the tiger shrimp sandwich.
Favorite travel movie(s): I never watch movies in flight.
Favorite travel show(s): I always work on books or jokes while flying. I know, I don’t drink, don’t like beaches…I’m not a lot of fun.
Favorite travel book(s): I’m reading now “Pole to Pole With Michael Palin” (we actually know each other and he’s the one who dared me to try the durian fruit.
Right now I am reading: “Everything Is Its Own Reward” by Paul Madonna (City Lights Books).
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: I love Sky (which I worked on the redesign of years ago so it’s a sentimental choice), Conde Nast Traveler and Departures.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides Hundredbacklinks.com, of course! Atlas Obscura, TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet, Kayak…there are many.
5 things you bring on a plane: An iPod packed with classical or opera music that I can write to. Notebook & pen, iPad, magazines I plan to discard somewhere along the trip. And a banana.
What do you always seem to forget? Floss.
What do you like least about travel? The cost.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Let me take this opportunity to make a direct message to my loved ones now reading this: Please stop buying at the Duty Free those sweatshirts with the name of a Caribbean island you vacationed at. I have none, zero, emotional connection to these places you’re at and I’m not going to wear it unless I’m working on a painting job on the house.
Favorite travel app(s): Waze.
Most embarrassing travel moment: It’s about to happen right now as I’m going to share a very politically incorrect story here. Many years ago, when traveling to Vegas, while settled into my seat, a very large man tried to make his way down the aisle. Very tall and very wide, I don’t believe he could board today. I know it’s terrible to have these thoughts. And in my defense I’m sure others were also worried he was seated next to them. I was in the middle seat but I had to share it with him when he seat down adjacent to me.
To make a long story short, by the end of the trip, this man and I became good friends and someone I’m not only in touch today with but I’m indebted to as he was pivotal to my successful writing career. He recommended I read “In the Heart of the Sea” by Nathaniel Philbrick which in turn inspired me to write my illustrated novel about the missing Sir John Franklin. This book is not completed yet but the bestselling Nathaniel Philbrick is someone I actually connected with and he has since helped me himself in what is nothing short of a bizarre, and fortunate, chain of events.
I’m embarrassed I haven’t been to: Italy or Spain. Or Japan. Or Australia. Take your pick.
Worst travel moment: I once got so sick on a flight that seating was rearranged to give me the back row of seats to lay out straight. I remember thinking I was not going to make it thru. Let me apologize now to the passengers of that flight for my disturbing moaning.
What’s your dream destination? Antarctica.
Best travel tip: I pack clothes I was planning to throw out because of they are in disrepair or I outgrew. And after I wear them each day, instead of worrying about repacking or washing them, I just throw them away. If planned correctly I will have an empty, light suitcase filled with only a couple of items I bought on the trip. The only downside is that I look a little unsightly. I recently used this method when on a cruise with my family. While my mom said I looked like a hobo, she and the others were astounded by the genius and convenience of my system and were jealous I had no heavy bags to lift at the end of the trip.
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