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: Taya Rogers aka Taya Starling
Hometown: Manhattan Beach, CA
College: Loyola Marymount University
College major: Communications & Marketing
Short bio: Born in Los Angeles, but raised between Bangkok & the rest of the world, I’ve been traveling for as long as I can remember. My parents took me with them on business trips, we always traveled for family holidays, and as I grew old enough to fly alone, my parents encouraged me to always get out there and see the world. After finishing University at Loyola Marymount in LA, I took a job with MTV Asia and relocated to Singapore where I spent a year and a half traveling all over the world to interview bands and attend concerts, movie premiers and other fun & exciting events. After my learning experience at MTV I hosted a travel show sponsored by Bangkok Airways and got to see even more of the world that I had previously missed. Now I split my time between Asia and America for work, but travel for fun as often as I can.
How often do you fly? Some months I don’t fly at all, other months I take up to 2-3 flights a week! Oh the spontaneity of wanderlust!
How many countries have you been to? I have been to 27 countries and I plan to visit at least 3 new countries this year.
How many continents have you been to? Five and counting.
Earliest travel memory: I was 16-weeks-old my first plane ride. Safe to say I don’t remember it at all but I remember being about four and flying to Hawaii to with my parents. My mom always packed the best snacks & tons of games.
Favorite American city: Los Angeles because from the city to the beach to the mountains, you never know where the day will take you.
Favorite international city: I absolutely loved Istanbul when I went last year. There was so much to see and do and experience between the market, Hagia Sophia, the Whirling Dervishes, Turkish baths…I booked the trip on an impulse an two days later found myself wandering the streets enjoying Turkish treats and hating Turkish coffee! I can’t wait to go back.
I have no desire to go to: I actually can’t think of anywhere I wouldn’t want to visit at least once. I have an insatiable urge to see the world, experience its cultures, meet its people, and learn more about myself in the process.
Friendliest people in the world: This may be a little biased but I would have to say Thailand. It’s truly the land of smiles!
Favorite World Heritage Site: Although I have only been to a handful, I have loved them all! Angkor in Cambodia was definitely one of my favorites. The immense impact of the cultural ruins is so incredible. Luang Prabang in Laos is another beautiful cultural site. The Laotian culture is so wonderfully preserved in this little town, if given the opportunity you MUST wake up before dawn to participate in the giving of alms to the hundreds of monks who reside in their little community. Ha Long Bay is another favorite. This gorgeous lagoon in Vietnam looks more like something out of an old exotic dream than a place we can actually visit and enjoy. This world holds so much magic.
Favorite airline: I love Singapore airlines. They never disappoint.
Favorite aircraft type: Airbus A380.
Aisle or window: Window all the way!
Favorite airport lounge: The international lounge in Istanbul.
Favorite U.S. airport: Chicago O’Hare.
Favorite international airport: Singapore.
Favorite island: Maldives although I hope to explore many more islands this year such as Fiji, Tahiti, Turks & Caicos.
Favorite beach: There’s this tiny cove of a beach down south in Thailand that I’m not even sure has a name. When you’re standing there facing the crystal clear ocean with your toes in sand as soft as powered sugar, you feel like you’re the only one in paradise.
Favorite fancy restaurant: About a year ago I visited Shanghai with a friend and we had the most wonderful night at Jean-Georges on the Bund. My rival to that experience would have to be at L’Atelier by Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas where I was once invited into the kitchen to try my hand at their mashed potatoes, which by the way are absolutely to die for!
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Helena’s on O’ahu. It’s a no-frills, all-delicious local Hawaiian food spot that everyone needs to try at least once!
Favorite bar: Old Tony’s on the pier in Redondo Beach is the first that comes to mind. It’s been around for ages and typically the crowd is more my parents’ ages but that’s part of why we love going. No one bothers us, the live music is good and the drinks are awesome, not to mention moderately priced. Ask for a Fire Chief and you can keep the signature glass. My runner-ups would have to be The Varnish in DTLA or the Spare Room at the Roosevelt.
Favorite fruit: I love all the tropical fruits found in Asia (& Hawaii!): mango, guava, lilikoi (passion fruit), lychee, rambutan, oh the list goes on and on!
Favorite food: I’m a #FatGirlAtHeart! It would be easier to ask what foods I don’t like and even then I can really only say mushy peas & fermented duck egg.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Ginger ale (or champagne!) is my go to on flights until the meal is served & I switch to red wine.
Favorite travel movie(s): 180º South & The Darjeeling Limited.
Favorite travel show(s): I love all of Anthony Bourdain’s shows. I suppose that’s because it’s a terrific mix of my love for food and travel. I would die to accompany him on a trip!
Favorite travel book(s): Taschen recently put out a collection of travel guides that I thoroughly enjoy ( they look so pretty on the coffee table).
Right now I am reading: “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” My life can end up a mess when I’m traveling all the time and living in and out of suitcases. It’s the perfect book to fit in to my 2016 reading challenge.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: I love reading Monocle for a deeper insight to what’s happening in the various cities around the world. It helps me find something new & different to explore when I’m off wanderlusting. No matter where I go I prefer to experience the city like a local rather than a tourist. I also love browsing Petite Passport and Roads & Kingdoms.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides Hundredbacklinks.com, of course! 12hrs, Eat Your City, & Melting Butter.
5 things you bring on a plane: Noise-cancellation headphones, Kindle, rosewater spray, beauty balm, and a big comfy scarf that can triple as a pillow or blanket as needed.
What do you like least about travel? The long lines at security & immigration. I hate waiting in lines.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Chocolate!
Favorite travel app(s): Airbnb because it’s always more fun to stay somewhere local that isn’t a hotel.
I’m embarrassed but I haven’t been to: South America, and yet there’s so much I want to see & do in that region!
Worst travel moment: Once while visiting the Thousand Islands in Indonesia, we were on this tiny remote island (it took about 30 mins to walk the whole way around the island!) and I became violently sick, most likely due to food poisoning. I was in and out of consciousness, hallucinating, feverish, and falling apart. There was no real doctor on the island and the local medicine man tried to convince us that “Bad spirits had entered (me).” Let’s just be glad it all passed in a day or so.
What’s your dream destination? Right now I’m dying to go to Greece & Morocco!
Best travel tip: Always leave room in your suitcase for the souvenirs you’ll bring home.