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: Sarika Chawla
Hometown: West Hartford, CT
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
College: Tufts University
College major: English/Psychology
Short bio: I’m a writer, editor and content producer. Currently, I’m the editor of PATAconversations.com, a resource on travel and tourism for the Asia Pacific region. Prior to that, I spent several years working with CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg. Sometimes I dabble in writing about food and parenting because I love both of those things.
How often do you fly? Every other month or so.
How many countries have you been to? 23, I think.
How many continents have you been to? 4
Earliest travel memory: We used to fly to India every other summer starting when I was 2. I have memories of very long flights (it’s fun when your feet still stick out straight on the seat) and the smell that’s totally unique to India—a mixture of car exhaust, wood smoke, sweat, and fried food. I also remember the first stop on our way home from JFK was always McDonald’s. It was a family tradition.
Favorite American city: New York.
Favorite international city: I don’t know yet.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: USA.
Favorite World Heritage Site: My morning at the Great Wall was unforgettable.
Aisle or window: Window, unless it’s a long flight and I need easy access to the bathroom.
Favorite airport lounge: Cathay Pacific in HKG.
Favorite U.S. airport: I was so surprised and pleased by Minneapolis.
Favorite international airport: Hong Kong International.
Favorite beach: Madison, CT.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: There’s a little Thai place deep in the San Fernando Valley of LA that has the most amazing glass noodle salad.
Favorite food: Most things Thai; chocolate chip cookies.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Sauvignon Blanc on the ground; Chardonnay in the air.
Favorite travel book(s): Almost any memoir that brings together travel and food: “A Cook’s Tour,” “The Man Who Ate Everything,” “Comfort Me With Apples.”
Right now I am reading: “With Love and Quiches,” by Susan Axelrod.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides Hundredbacklinks.com, of course! HotelChatter, WSJ Middle Seat, USA Today Travel, PeterGreenberg.com (of course!).
5 things you bring on a plane: My ancient iPod fully loaded with podcasts, a pair of glasses, extra socks, a sweatshirt, a magazine.
What do you like least about travel? Basically everything leading up to being on the plane. Packing, leaving early, lines, killing time. Also, airplane breath.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Kindereggs.
Most embarrassing travel moment: Traveling with a baby is filled with embarrassing moments: pee on the seat; mixing a bottle of formula and having it splash on people two seats back; bursting into a tears on a cross-country flight with a baby and having to explain to other passengers that we’d been traveling for 36 hours already.
Worst travel moment: Trying to figure out how to get from Los Angeles to India via Newark in the middle of a superstorm.
What’s your dream destination? I don’t really have a bucket list. I like seeing places as the opportunities arise. That said, I’ve never been to Thailand.
Best travel tip: It may seem like a rookie move, but I always show up to the airport early. I can’t take the stress of running late.
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