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: Don George
Occupation: Travel Writer & Editor, Speaker, Teacher, Tour Leader, Talk Show Host
Hometown: Middlebury, CT
Residence: Piedmont, CA
College major: English & Comparative Literature; Creative Writing
Short Bio: I’m the author of “The Way of Wanderlust: The Best Travel Writing of Don George.” This just-published book, the first collection of my own writing, features 35 stories set in 24 countries, from 40 years of world-wandering. It’s absolutely exhilarating for me to finally have this collection of my own tales and essays out in the world! I’m also the author of the best-selling “Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing.” I’m Editor at Large and Book Review Columnist for National Geographic Traveler and National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel blog, and Special Features Editor for BBC Travel. I also edit and write for GeoEx’s blog, Wanderlust: Literary Journeys for the Discerning Traveler, and the Adventure Collection’s blog. I’ve been Travel Editor at the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, founder and editor of Salon.com’s Wanderlust travel site, and Global Travel Editor for Lonely Planet. I appear frequently on CNN, NPR, ABC, and other national and international radio and TV outlets. I speak and teach regularly at conferences and on campuses around the world. I’m the co-founder and chairman of the Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference.
How often do you fly? I average at least a couple of flights a month.
How many countries have you been to? 90-plus.
How many continents have you been to? 6
Favorite American city: San Francisco (New York a close second).
Favorite international city: Paris (Kyoto a close second).
Least favorite country: I’ve truly never been to a country I haven’t liked. I realize how saccharin that may sound, but even in the most challenging places, I’ve always found someone to connect with and something valuable to learn.
Favorite World Heritage Site: It’s tough to choose just one! Man-made: Chartres Cathedral; nature-made: Uluru.
Favorite airline: Singapore.
Favorite aircraft type: Palatino Linotype.
Aisle or window: Depends where I’m flying—when I flew from London to Nairobi on a daytime flight some years ago, I chose a window seat and stayed glued to the window almost the entire time: It was like watching the globe turn beneath me…Amazing!
Favorite U.S. airport: SFO.
Favorite international airport: Aitutaki International.
Favorite hotel: Paris Ritz.
Favorite cruise line: Crystal.
Favorite island: 1) Shikoku, 2) Aitutaki.
Favorite fancy restaurant: La Colombe d’Or (St. Paul de Vence, France).
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Caffe Strada (Berkeley, California).
Favorite fruit: Durian (OK—papaya!).
Favorite food: Too many to single out one—but if I had to choose, grilled wild salmon…
Least favorite food: Sheep’s eyeballs.
Drink of choice (In the air and on the ground): Veuve Clicquot.
Favorite travel movie(s): The Passenger, Midnight in Paris.
Favorite travel book(s): “The Snow Leopard.”
Right now I am reading: The Kindness of Strangers and The Great Railway Bazaar.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: National Geographic Traveler, BBC Travel, Wanderlust (geoex.com/blog) (Full disclosure: I work for all these!).
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course: National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel blog, WorldHum, Vela—and of course, don-george.com!
5 things you bring on a plane: Book, water, sweater, journal, Airborne.
Most embarrassing travel moment: Getting lost (happens every time; also most liberating travel moment).
Worst travel moment: I think the worst travel moment was the time I just missed a connecting train from Greece to Turkey and was abandoned in a truly middle-of-nowhere border town called Pythion for about eight hours, until the next train came through. All I had for diversion was my journal—but as it turned out, that was more than enough!
What’s your dream destination? Bhutan, Buenos Aires, Bali, Barcelona (and that’s just the B’s!).
Favorite travel charity: Kiva.
Best travel tip: Every journey is a pilgrimage: Practice the fine art of vulnerability and open yourself up to a place—whatever you put into the world will come back to you many-fold. Also, get lost and you’ll be amazed at what you find. And—seed love.
I love these experienced travelers stories. The latest one has a dream destination of Buenos Aires — he will like that one. I am probably the only person who has gone to Bali and did not like it.