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: Brandon Presser
Occupation: Travel expert, writer, and head tour guide on Bravo TV’s Tour Group (Tuesdays at 10/9c on Bravo starting March 1)
Hometown: Ottawa, Canada
Residence: NYC, NY
College major: History of Art & Architecture
Short bio: Brandon, the head tour guide on Bravo TV’s new travel show Tour Group, is a bona fide travel expert who has visited more than 100 countries, written more than 50 travel books, and has firmly accrued a lifetime’s worth of experiences along the way. He earned his stripes as a professional nomad in Paris while working at the Louvre museum, in Tokyo as an architectural apprentice, and in Thailand as a scuba diving professional. From there, Brandon secured his reputation as an adventure prodigy when he became the youngest person to join the coveted team of writers at Lonely Planet, the world’s most prominent travel brand. He crossed the globe authoring books to far-flung destinations like Iceland, Turkey and Malaysia, and was awarded the prestigious SATW Lowell Thomas gold prize for his outstanding achievements in guidebook writing. Today, Brandon contributes to a variety of prestigious publications including Travel + Leisure and The Daily Beast, and leads worldwide expeditions for elite jetsetters. Brandon has become one of the foremost authorities on both five-star luxury and grass roots travel. He is just as comfortable trekking through the backwaters of Borneo as he is on the beaches of Bora Bora.
How often do you fly? It averages out to be about once or twice a week.
How many countries have you been to? Over 100.
How many continents have you been to? 6. Just missing Antarctica.
Favorite international city: In a perfect world I’d spend half my time in Paris and the other half in Tokyo. They complement each other in a very strange way: Paris’ museum-like quality starkly contrasts with Tokyo’s unrelenting affinity for newness.
Least favorite country: Haven’t met a country I didn’t like—though it’s more about the serendipity and the experiences that arise in each destination that paint a nation’s portrait. So, really hard to say.
I have no desire to go to: Burger King.
Friendliest people in the world: Don’t let the Scandinavian concision confuse you—Icelanders have a certain warmth, humor and curiosity about them that make them excellent hosts.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: I’ve heard from other travelers that the Canadian border patrol can be surprisingly tough, but as a native Canuck I always get the hearty “welcome home” when I cross the border.
Favorite airline: I fall in and out of love with different airlines as they update their fleet and reshuffle their seating sizes and entertainment offerings. Right now I’m smitten with JetBlue’s new aircrafts stocked with great TV options, heaps of snacks and great (free!) Wi-Fi.
Aisle or window: If it’s an early morning flight and I need to catch some extra Zs I always go for window. For long-hauls when I know I’m going to want to get up and stretch my legs I opt for aisle.
Favorite airport lounge: The Cathay Pacific lounge at the airport in Hong Kong has luxurious showers befitting an upmarket hotel suite —the perfect antidote to a long-haul flight—not to mention a great selection of complimentary made-to-order Chinese food.
Favorite hotel: This is a tough one because I’ve clocked nights in over 2500 hotels. So, to make it easier, these are my five favorite hotels I’ve stayed in over the last 12 months: Twin Farms, in Barnard, Vermont; Roch Castle, in Pembrokeshire, Wales; Four Seasons Bora Bora; Belcampo Belize, in Punta Gorda, Belize; and Shangri-La Maldives, on Villingili Island, Maldives (which everyone can soon check out— it was one of the destinations I took my travelers to on Tour Group).
Favorite cruise line: I’m admittedly not a very cruise-y person, but I like Windstar Cruises’ smaller yachts that carry around 100 passengers because they feel decidedly un-cruise-y; it’s super seamless to jump on and off the boat at each port.
Favorite island: I have a strange affinity for islands. During my time writing guidebooks for Lonely Planet, I found myself regularly researching island destinations: Mauritius, Iceland, the Caribbean, Thailand’s islands, Borneo, etc. I think Saba, in the Caribbean, is largely overlooked because it doesn’t have a beach—but it’s a beautiful and secluded place with great hiking, scuba diving and some really fun locals.
Right now I am reading: “The Scramble For Africa” by Thomas Pakenham. A brilliant and comprehensive account of the thirty years leading up to World War I when large tracts of the continent were still a complete mystery to European and American explorers, and how, in such a short time, the “dark continent” changed forever.
5 things you bring on a plane: Bose noise-cancelling headphones, a sweater, a dopp kit with a few useful items (eye drops, Advil etc), a good book (that I never end up finishing), and a few lucky stones found on different beaches around the world (I’m a little superstitious sometimes!).
I’m embarrassed but I haven’t been to: New Orleans. I know, I know—don’t throw your rotten tomatoes! It’s largely a function of the fact that when an adventure on the other side of the planet presents itself I usually pursue that, and sometimes forget that some of the world’s best treasures are in our backyards.
Favorite travel charity: If it’s a responsible endeavor promoting clean water, anti-human trafficking, wildlife conservation, and/or education then my ears and wallet are open.
Best travel tip: Change your place, change your luck.