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: Robert Reid
Occupation: Lonely Planet’s US Travel Editor
Hometown: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Residence: New York City
Short Bio: Raised on Oklahoma public schools, I joined Lonely Planet 13 years ago, have written a couple dozen guidebooks, made dozens of travel videos, tried out for the Mounties, spoke on NBC’s Today show, and written articles for folks like the New York Times.
How often do you fly: Varies, maybe once every six to eight weeks.
How many countries have you been to: 39, if my math’s right.
How many continents have you been to: Five.
Favorite American city: New York City, and sorry but it’s not close.
Favorite international city: London.
Least favorite country: I guess I’m still trying to love Thailand as much as everyone else does.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Palenque, Mexico.
Favorite airline: Calm Air (flies between Winnipeg and Churchill, Manitoba) because I boarded by simply telling them my first name. No ID, no ticket, nothing.
Favorite aircraft type: Ones with personal TVs.
Aisle or window: Short flights, window; long flights, aisle.
Favorite airport lounge: I hardly ever get lounge access! But I’d say Singapore.
Favorite U.S. airport: I like the rocking chairs at Charlotte. That’s just cute.
Favorite international airport: Singapore. Because it’s great, and it means I’m that much closer to Vietnam or Burma.
Favorite ho I had such a wonderful time at the historic Julien Inn in Dubuque, Iowa (). Behind the desk up front, there was an old-school board that has a light for every room in case you have a message, and the tiny tiny single was so well designed, I didn’t want to leave.
Favorite cruise line: That empty Siberian cruise on the Lena River that appoints you a dining seat across from honeymooners, and won’t let you go to empty tables.
Favorite island: Long Island, NY. Or Britain.
Favorite fancy restaurant: That place I ate barracuda in Sardinia. I’ll never hear that Heart song the same way again.
Favorite hole in the wall: New York’s epic Prime Burger, with its sliding-tray seats, just closed. Ah, New York. So I’d have to go with any of 10 or so of the best taquerias in the Mission in San Francisco.
Favorite fruit: Nothing is better than pears when they’re good. Unfortunately they’re not good as often as I’d like.
Favorite food: Vietnamese street food.
Least favorite food: Spanish, I think? Tapas sort of freaks me out. Oh, it’s good. But if you’re in the wrong group, it’s hard to split when you get three things and there’s four of you. And you end wanting a second of that, but end up with a second and third of this. And too scared to say what you want. And everyone is nervous and overly polite. Also, paella is often disappointing. Yeah, not huge on Spanish yet.
Drink of choice (In the air and on the ground): Good coffee, like the ‘long black’ in Australia. They know coffee down there.
Favorite travel movie(s): That Vienna overnighter in ‘Before Sunrise.’ Richard Linklater just nails so many things of the empty and full feelings travel gives on a random stop-off. And let’s not overlook the refreshingly inspired visit to Nebraska in Jim Carrey’s rather forgettable ‘Yes Man.’
Favorite travel show(s): I’m exhausted from travel/food shows, so ‘Idiot Abroad.’ I honestly don’t watch travel shows much though.
Favorite travel book(s): Elif Batuman’s ‘Possessed’ makes Russian literature look fun, and Ian Frazier’s ‘Great Plains’ is a nice look at an often ignored place. And Mark Twain’s ‘Life on the Mississippi’ is a gift from a lost world.
Right now I am reading: Of all things, Jack Kerouac, ‘Dharma Bums.’ I bought it in Orlando once because he wrote it in Orlando. It’s better than ‘On the Road.’
Five things you bring on a plane: Book, bottle of water, sandwich, notepad, pen (ideally both blue and red). Can I have a highlighter too?
What do you always seem to forget: I don’t need much. Generally it’s the sandwich that’s overlooked first. Mostly I forget to forget something I don’t want on the plane. What are you supposed to do with a big crushable hat on an eight-hour flight?
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport duty free store? One of those ‘Yo [heart] Mex’ t-shirts in Mexico. Mine didn’t survive laundry service in Siberia, and I miss it.
Favorite travel iPhone app(s): Camera+ (far better for photos than iPhone’s photo app) and I like Lonely Planet’s Postcards app to send DIY postcards. I miss the post card era sometimes.
Most embarrassing/worst travel moment: First vodka experience was in St Petersburg, Russia 20 years ago. After a series of shots, I yelled at a bus tour guide to ‘put the Stones tape in.’ It was bad. But, honestly, it was just the vodka talking.
What’s your dream destination: Oh, hard to say. I want to walk the Robert Louis Stevenson Trail in southern France with a donkey, like he did. He was my first fellow ‘Robert’ I knew, partly because I went to Stevenson Elementary in Tulsa. Plus I like donkeys.
Favorite travel charity: Habitat for Humanity.
Favorite travel website(s) – besides Hundredbacklinks.com, of course!: I think should get a Lifetime Achievement Award. Or a lot of gift fudge.
Best travel tip: Everyone says travel writing is a dream job. It’s not exactly vacation though. I spent 15 minutes in the water on two research trips to the Yucatan. But one thing all travelers can take from a writer’s experience is, once in a life at least, use a trip to do what writers do: appoint yourself a quest, and go search the answer as ‘the trip.’ Pick something that interests you: origins of Scooby Doo, bio of Blackbeard the pirate, or the clarinet. Then go search it out and document what you find. Finding a new truth isn’t the point. It’s the process, the curiosity, the characters you meet. This will get you deeper below the surface of a place. By the way, the clarinet was invented in Nuremberg, Germany. But back off: that’s MY idea!
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