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: Amy Stark
Occupation: Marketing Manager at an award-winning 95-year-old accounting firm by day; traveler, photographer and travel blogger in my free time
Hometown: Rockville, Maryland
Residence: Tysons Corner, Virginia
College: UMUC (undergrad); Full Sail University (grad)
College major: Business & Management; Internet Marketing Master of Science
Facebook: A Traveling Broad
Pinterest: A Traveling Broad
Google+: A Traveling Broad
YouTube: A Traveling Broad
Short bio: I grew up in a rather large family, the fourth of five children, so we didn’t have much money to go on trips. We had annual trips to Ocean City, MD, or my grandparents’ houses in NW Pennsylvania. When I was old enough to drive, I was anxious to get my license as soon as possible; I couldn’t wait to explore beyond where I’d been with my parents. As I’ve gotten older, my wanderlust has gotten worse. Luckily, over the years, I’ve had the time, money and ability to travel near and far. I’ve been to quite a few places in the United States and abroad. However, my travel Bucket List is still pretty long and there’s a great big world out there to explore!
How often do you fly? 4x/year.
How many countries have you been to? Nine and counting, but I’ve been to many, many places within those countries.
How many continents have you been to? 3 (so far!).
Earliest travel memory: LONG trips to see my grandparents in NW Pennsylvania! 5.5-6 hours in a car driving from Maryland to Northwestern Pennsylvania—yuck! Also remember our annual trips to Ocean City, MD. Getting up early to go to the beach and collect seashells. I still enjoy that to this day!
Favorite American city: Love Boston, MA—historic, eclectic, interesting, great food! It’s a great city to walk and explore.
Favorite international city: Venice, Italy & Roussillon, France (so far!).
I have no desire to go to: Korea even though my younger brother & his girlfriend live there. I really don’t want to visit China, either, but I would go if it meant I’d get to see the Great Wall.
Friendliest people in the world: The Ticos (Costa Ricans) and southerners in the US (love hearing “How y’all doin’?” and “What can I getcha, darlin’?” when I go down there. LOL).
Country with the meanest immigration officers: Surprisingly ,Canada.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Old City of Jerusalem. Although I’m not Jewish (I was raised Catholic) or religious, I found it fascinating from a historical perspective. Also enjoyed Rome with its ruins, cathedrals and gorgeous architecture.
Favorite airline: Southwest Airlines. Love the flight attendants. Very friendly, funny repartee when they make their announcements, great service.
Aisle or window: Window even though I have to climb over other passengers to use the restroom. Love the feeling of seeing my destination for the first time!
Favorite U.S. airport: Denver.
Favorite international airport: Paris.
Favorite hotel: The Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort & Spa in Costa Rica (near San Ramon).
Favorite fancy restaurant: Capital Grille in Tysons Corner, VA. The food is delicious and the service is good.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: The Vienna Inn in Vienna, VA. Not much for décor and kind of a dump but the food is decent, the servings are generous, it doesn’t cost much, and the servers are really nice.
Favorite fruit: Strawberries, blackberries, peaches, watermelon, seedless grapes.
Favorite food: I love all types of food, so it’s hard to choose. Really enjoy Mexican and Italian, but Mediterranean ranks right up there, too.
Least favorite food: Lima beans, asparagus, olives, liver, sCRAPple (the name alone makes me NOT want to eat it!).
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): A German riesling.
Favorite travel movie(s): Eat, Pray, Love; French Kiss; Under the Tuscan Sun; Only You; French Kiss.
Favorite travel show(s): Rick Steves.
Favorite travel book(s): Rick Steves, Lonely Planet.
Right now I am reading: “A Year In Provence” by Peter Mayle.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: Budget Travel, Travel & Leisure.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! Budget Travel.
5 things you bring on a plane: Ear buds, antibacterial wipes, laptop or iPod for entertainment, travel pillow, snacks.
What do you always seem to forget? Sunglasses (ugh!).
What do you like least about travel? I can rarely fall asleep on the plane even if I’ve had very little sleep; can’t get comfortable in the seats even though I’m vertically challenged (I tower over Little People at a whopping 5’ 3.5”!).
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? A lightly-scented cologne since they are usually so expensive at other stores.
Favorite travel app(s): Waze (actually recommended to me by Costa Ricans for getting around the country!); TripAdvisor; FindMeGlutenFree to help find dining options.
Most embarrassing travel moment: When I was going through a security checkpoint in Germany and the guard was a little too thorough (if you know what I mean) while checking the underwire in my bra! #buymeadrinkfirst. Also, when we were going through customs on our return trip from Costa Rica and we were pulled aside so our bags could be scanned and searched. The security dog sniffed something in my boyfriend’s suitcase and it turned out, he forgot he had brought home a weird plum-sized seed he had found. Ugh!
I’m embarrassed but I haven’t been to: The UK.
Worst travel moment: When after making non-refundable trip reservations, I discovered that I had just three weeks to get a brand new passport. Yikes!
What’s your dream destination? Galapagos Islands, Greece.
Best travel tip: I have several: (1) Before your trip, makes copies of your ID, the front & back of any debit/credit cards you’re taking, and your passport (if traveling out of the country) and email them to yourself so if you lose them during your trip, you can access the account numbers, etc.; (2) when packing, use shower caps to cover the bottoms of shoes so you don’t get your clean clothes dirty when in your suitcase; (3) bring your own headphones/earbuds, a small blanket or scarf, and a travel pillow so you don’t get charged for them on the airplane; (4) to enjoy your destination like a local, avoid chain restaurants and ask locals where they dine and hang out. This will help you have a better experience and will probably be less touristy and busy than other places.