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: Chris Backe
Occupation: Self-publishing consultant, travel blogger, and freelance photographer
Hometown: Chicago, IL, USA
Residence: Khon Kaen, Northern Thailand
College: Berea College, Kentucky
College major: Marketing with a Music minor
Website: oneweirdglobe.com for the travel blog, publishinghero.com for the self-publishing world
Facebook: One Weird Globe
Pinterest: One Weird Globe
Google+: Chris Backe
YouTube: One Weird Globe
Short bio: Chris Backe is the blogger behind One Weird Globe, a travel blog that focuses on the weird and offbeat destinations around the world. He’s lived in Asia since 2008, and is currently in northeast Thailand. He’s written over a dozen books and itineraries, and helps authors put their books together over at publishinghero.com.
How often do you fly? Not nearly as often as other folks—around 2-3 times a year.
How many countries have you been to? About 10 or so.
How many continents have you been to? Two, with three and four coming soon!
Earliest travel memory: Going out on a lake with the family. My dad got me one of those one-time-use cameras, sort of taking after him with his fancier SLR.
Favorite American city: Chicago! Born nearby, love the variety found there.
Favorite international city: Seoul, baby! All kinds of food, and it’s easy to get around without speaking a word of Korean.
Least favorite country: Erg. The US has their issues, to be honest, and Thailand and I don’t always get along. It’s really more a city-by-city thing than anything else, though.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: Haven’t had any meanies yet, just the usual airport security BS in the US.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Namhansanseong! Haven’t heard of it? It’s a mountain fortress in South Korea that just got listed mid-2014.
Favorite airline(s): Korean Air (there, I said it).
Favorite aircraft type: Wide-body!
Aisle or window: Window.
Best flight attendant you’ve ever had: A twenty-something cutie on a flight from Seoul to Jeju. The only time I wished a flight was longer.
Favorite airport lounge: Incheon International Airport. The whole airport is almost a destination in itself.
Favorite U.S. airport: No current favorite.
Favorite international airport: Incheon—see above.
Favorite hotel: Right now, the Oriental Residence in Bangkok.
Favorite cruise line: Never been.
Favorite travel credit card: Don’t use ‘em.
Favorite island: Ulleung-do—an offbeat island about a three-hour ferry ride east of South Korea. One of the few places in South Korean territory that still feels undeveloped.
Favorite beach: The beach with the retired erotic sculptures (Modo Sculpture Park)—though that beach ain’t for swimming!
Favorite fancy restaurant: None.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Pretty much any unpretentious Thai street stall in small-town Thailand.
Favorite bar: Cheap Charlie’s in Bangkok—unpretentious, been around forever, and you really never know who you’ll meet there.
Favorite fruit: Mandarins—but only when perfectly ripe. Too many places in Thailand try to sell them waaaay before they ripen naturally.
Favorite food: A good steak with plenty of gravy, complete with all the usual sides. And ice cream cakes.
Least favorite food: Most vegetables. Sorry mom.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Beer.
Favorite travel movie(s): Catch Me If You Can.
Favorite travel show(s): Don’t watch any.
Favorite travel book(s): Beyond the ones I write? =) Pretty much anything by Bill Bryson or written by other travel bloggers is going to be a good read.
Right now I am reading: A bunch of different stuff. Books on self-publishing. A ton of travel blogs.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: I love Talon and Tigger’s adventures over at “1 Dad, 1 Kid”; “For 91 Days” is a great way of seeing a place beyond the tourist trail. “Around the World in 80 Jobs”—that guy’s got more energy than I do…
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! Skift is usually a good read for the big picture stuff; AsiaObscura and Atlas Obscura are occasionally fun to peruse (though I’m often traveling to places that aren’t on their radars!).
5 things you bring on a plane: Water and snacks acquired post-security, my iPad, a hand towel (for everything from spill management to makeshift blindfold), a paper notebook, and as much patience as I can muster.
What do you always seem to forget? It’s rarely the same thing twice. Last time it was a spare battery for the DSLR. Before that, my toothbrush (but it was time for a new one anyway!).
What do you like least about travel? Out-of-date or inaccurate schedules.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Egads—they’re expensive as all hell. I’d tell them to save their coin and put it towards our next trip!
Favorite travel app(s): Koredoko—a free little app that shows exactly where you took that photo on your iPhone. Perfect for those off-the-beaten-path places where there are no street signs and an address is questionable—GPS coordinates, baby!
Most embarrassing travel moment: Having to get a local to haul us to civilization after our bike got a flat. Their pick-up had like 9 people in the front and one guy sleeping in the back!
Worst travel moment: The Vientiane to Luang Prabang bus in Laos. Never. Take. That. Bus. It’s not just the misnomer of being a “VIP” bus, it stops and starts and slows down and stops again…Ours broke down for four hours…Pay the extra few bucks and take the plane.
What’s your dream destination? Some culture and class in Europe. No specific place—maybe Prague, maybe Rome…
Favorite travel charity: Don’t have one.
Best travel tip: Get off the beaten path! This doesn’t require getting lost or going to the middle of nowhere—it means not following the pack of tourists. Sometimes the more interesting places are just right around the corner.
What a great post from a very interesting traveler. Thanks for your column. Some of these posts are HO HUM but yours was really interesting and informative. THANK YOU!!!!