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: Ashley Hanson
Hometown: Marietta, GA
Residence: Berkeley, CA
College: Stanford (BA in International Relations), UC Berkeley (MBA)
Facebook: Joey Travel
Short bio: My passion is connecting people across continents and cultures. I have spent most of my professional life working to improve cross-cultural understanding between the US and the Middle East. I feel fortunate that my career—which has spanned security policy, digital media, and travel—has led to life-long friendships with amazing individuals around the world. These friendships inspired me to launch my startup, Joey Travel, which aims to give travelers a local friend in every city.
How often do you fly? It varies, but last year it was 31 times.
How many countries have you been to? Approximately 30.
How many continents have you been to? 5
Earliest travel memory: My first international trip was a family trip to Paris, where my dad was attending a conference. At the end of the trip, my parents asked me what my favorite part was. My response wasn’t “going to the top of the Eiffel Tower” or “seeing the Louvre”; it was “buying baguettes and salami and having a picnic in the hotel room!” #simplepleasures
Favorite international city: Beirut or Jerusalem.
Friendliest people in the world: Everywhere that I’ve traveled in the Middle East – There’s such a culture of hospitality.
Favorite World Heritage Site: The Egyptian temples at Abu Simbel – Stunning giant statues of Ramses II. When I visited, I was the only one inside the temples; I felt like Indiana Jones!
Favorite U.S. airport: Oakland – It’s small and manageable but still has a fair number of international flights.
Favorite international airport: Singapore – Beautiful indoor gardens, zen lounges, movie theaters, everything you never expected to find in an airport!
Favorite National Park: Grand Teton – Stunning landscape, lots of wildlife, great hiking & climbing.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Enab (Beirut) – Traditional Lebanese restaurant in a beautiful converted home with a cozy stone courtyard.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Mama’s Lu Dumpling House (Los Angeles) – To-die-for soup dumplings and chive fried pancakes.
Favorite airport restaurant: Root Down (Denver International) – Creative, organic dishes. Sometimes I get to the airport early just so I can eat there.
Favorite travel movie(s): Australia.
Favorite travel book(s): “The Alchemist” – “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
Right now I am reading: “The Best Travel Writing: True Stories from Around the World” edited by James O’Reilly, Larry Habegger, Sean O’Reilly.
5 things you bring on a plane: Snack, headsets, phone, laptop, book.
What do you always seem to forget? A belt.
Most embarrassing travel moment: I was on my way to visit my then-boyfriend (now husband) in his hometown for the first time. I hadn’t seen him in months, and his mom and I had planned a surprise weekend visit. I was sprinting through the airport to catch my connection (the last flight of the day), when the gate agent informed me I had missed the flight. I immediately dropped to the floor and burst into tears. I have never cried so shamelessly in public. The poor gate agent didn’t know what to do with me!
What’s your dream destination? Anywhere that I can immerse myself in the culture and spend some time in the great outdoors. Top of my list currently are: Patagonia, Morocco, Namibia, and Svalbard.
Favorite travel charity: The Third Half is a B-Corp that organizes international, soccer-themed group travel to visit and support organizations that use soccer for social good.
Best travel tip: Try to make every moment an adventure. Car breaks down in the middle of the desert? It’s an adventure! Stuck wandering the streets at midnight in search of a hostel? It’s an adventure! It’s amazing how your perspective shifts when you let go of the reigns and allow yourself to take in the moment. I find that it’s easier for me to view life through this lens when I’m traveling, and I always challenge myself to incorporate it into my everyday life when I return home.