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: Dorian Smith-Garcia
Occupation: Owner/Marketing Consultant at Big Apple Style Marketing & Bridal Expert/Founder of TheAntiBridezilla.com
Hometown: Indianapolis, IN
Residence: New York, NY
College: Duke University
College major: Psychology
Facebook: The Anti Bridezilla
Pinterest: The Anit Bridezilla
Short bio: Dorian Smith-Garcia is the founder of The Anti Bridezilla, a New York-based bridal inspiration website that focuses on couture bridal fashion and luxury destination weddings & honeymoons. The primary focus is to provide information for American bridal couples that are interested in non-traditional destination weddings. Dorian uses her own wedding planning experiences to offer guidance as she was a destination bride who married in Tokyo, Japan. When Dorian isn’t managing The Anti Bridezilla, she’s focused on her marketing consultancy for entertainment and fashion brands based in the US and international markets.
How often do you fly? About every other month—sometimes every month depending on my travel schedule.
How many countries have you been to? 18 countries.
How many continents have you been to? 3 continents.
Earliest travel memory: My earliest travel memory was flying to New Jersey as a child in the summers to visit relatives.
Favorite American city: I live in NYC so it’s hard to top that! But for vacations I do like Miami.
Favorite international city: Tokyo!
Least favorite country: I honestly don’t have a least favorite country.
I have no desire to go to: Antarctica…I hate the cold!
Friendliest people in the world: Honestly, I’ve always had great encounters when I travel…so it’s hard to pick just one place for “friendliest people”!
Country with the meanest immigration officers: Maybe not meanest, but “least helpful” would be Turkey. Trying to transfer through the Istanbul airport, the immigration officers weren’t very helpful in making it clear that you don’t need to buy a tourist visa if you’re only transferring through the airport to another country. I ended up buying a visa only to find out that I didn’t need it!
Favorite World Heritage Site: The Taj Mahal! It was such a beautiful site, and so much rich history behind the building. A definite “must see” even if your travels to India don’t initially take you anywhere near Agra!
Favorite airline: I’m a Oneworld alliance member who’s extremely loyal (gotta earn those miles and keep my status!). So for domestic US travel, I’m pretty exclusive to American Airlines unless my travel is booked by a CVB/PR firm for a media trip. But the Oneworld airlines and additional international partners are pretty awesome. So far I’ve flown on British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines—fantastic service all around!
Favorite aircraft type: I guess I’m a Boeing kind of girl…as long as the seats are powered or have USB outlets in the media dash, I’m happy.
Aisle or window: I used to be a window fan but as I’ve gotten older (and started taking more long haul flights) I’ve become an aisle fan. Nothing is worse than climbing over people every hour and a half to use the bathroom on a 14-hour flight.
Favorite airport lounge: The Turkish Airlines Executive Lounge in Istanbul is pretty sweet. If you have the opportunity even if you aren’t a member of the Star Alliance, it’s worth the buy-in fee to access it for a stress free layover!
Favorite U.S. airport: SFO is pretty great for the wine bar. But I’m also partial to O’Hare and Dallas-Fort Worth.
Favorite international airport: Narita—not only is it one I’ve flown into (and out of) frequently, I also love their udon bar! But Incheon is a close second with the live orchestra performances!
Favorite hotel: Prince Park Tower Tokyo. It might seem like an odd choice, but I stayed at this hotel on my first real international trip, which was a vacation. It has gorgeous views of the Tokyo Tower and is close to Roppongi—one of the hot nightlife districts in Tokyo as well. I have fond memories from my first trip to Japan since it sparked my love of international travel—so I’ll always have a heart for this hotel!
Favorite cruise line: Royal Caribbean is my favorite line, although I don’t typically book cruise vacations anymore.
Favorite travel credit card: The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®…I’m a points/miles girl. So I need everything to get me closer to my next trip!
Favorite island: Puerto Rico is my favorite island, and you don’t even need a passport! Amazing history, excellent food and only a short flight from New York!
Favorite beach: Luquillo in Puerto Rico…it’s rated as one of the top beaches in the world for a reason. And it’s more of a locals beach than the ones in San Juan which is more tourist driven!
Favorite fancy restaurant: I think fancy is relative lol. Often fancy equals pretentious—which I can’t stand. But I do love food! So, one of my favorite restaurants is Bottega Louie in Los Angeles. The portabella fries with basil aioli is a must-do!
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Udon West and Yakitori Taisho—both of which are in NYC. Awesome Japanese food without pretention, that’s pretty authentic and gives me my Japanese food fix when a trip to Tokyo isn’t on the horizon!
Favorite bar: I don’t have one favorite bar. To be honest, my husband works in nightlife, so I know a lot of bars around the world! Instead, I like to frequent places that focus on mixology. If you create your own specialty blended simple syrups or modern twists on classic cocktails, I’ll be at your bar!
Favorite fruit: Cantaloupe! I love it…especially when it’s in season—and mangos…so awesome!
Favorite food: Italian food, especially chicken marsala. But I’m very adventurous with trying anything Italian.
Least favorite food: Oysters…unless they’re fried, I can’t stand them!
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): I’ve done a lot of drinking in my time so I try to avoid overly sugary drinks. My usual “go to” is a flavored vodka with seltzer—with my favorite being vanilla vodka with seltzer!
Favorite travel movie(s): Airplane! I know it’s an odd choice for a traveler but it’s awesome. The “jive talk” scene with the sick soul brother is my favorite part.
Favorite travel show(s): Anthony Bordain’s Parts Unknown.
Favorite travel book(s): Outside of travel guides from publishers like Lonely Planet, I don’t typically read travel-oriented books.
Right now I am reading: Janet Evanovich’s “Takedown Twenty.” I needed something light hearted after reading Steig Larson’s “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.”
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: I don’t have a set group of sites or magazines that I follow. But I do subscribe to tourism board newsletters both for international and domestic destinations to stay up to date on what’s happening—especially if I know I’m traveling to a location soon.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! Sometimes when I want to get a short list of “must see/must do” things for a certain location, nothing beats About.com. But I also follow a number of wanderlust/travel accounts on Instagram!
5 things you bring on a plane:
- Something to read—usually magazines and a book.
- A cozy and extra long infinity scarf for shorter flights where you won’t get a blanket!
- Saline nasal spray, moisturizing mist, lotion and homeopathic eye drops are a must for me with the dry airplane air!
- Quality headphones that offer noise cancelling capabilities are essential!
- Hair ties and bobby pins are a must so that I can nap and wake up without looking like a wild thing!
What do you always seem to forget? Neck pillows! I keep forgetting them on the plane! I’ve bought THREE in the last 12 months! I’m very upset because one of them was a Hello Kitty neck pillow I bought in Narita, and I’m obsessed with Hello Kitty.
What do you like least about travel? I’m a nervous traveler when it comes to flying. And turbulence is probably one of my top stressful moments—second to being trapped next to a screaming child. And that did happen to me on a 10-hour flight from Shanghai to LA…
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? This is a hard one to answer! The more I travel, the more particular I am about what I buy for myself! So I’d probably opt out of a gift from Duty Free! You should have bought me something while you were actually traveling around the city or country!
Favorite travel app(s): Yelp—when it works (as it doesn’t work in India). Google Maps is my best friend when I travel since it gives pretty accurate directions whether by car or mass transit. iTranslate is great for when you’re in a country and either don’t speak the language or aren’t terribly fluent. And LINE/Viber are great for keeping in touch with people via wifi and not running up your phone bill!
Most embarrassing travel moment: Once when I was in Tokyo a friend of mine who lived there invited myself and my friends who came with me from NY to a Korean barbecue restaurant. I had just taken off my shoes and placed them in a cubby. As I was backing up to turn and walk down the hall, I backed into a private dining room that was slightly raised from the hall. I fell backwards into the room and startled this group of businessmen. At the time I didn’t speak ANY Japanese so I bowed out of their room and raced after my friends as fast as I could!
I’m embarrassed but I haven’t been to: I haven’t traveled to Africa yet. I’d love to go to South Africa!
Worst travel moment: Flying when you’re sick or dizzy is probably the worst. I’m pretty sure that earlier this year I passed out on a flight to San Francisco since I was feeling dizzy and then miraculously woke up feeling better. And once I was traveling with a migraine—not my finest moment.
What’s your dream destination? I’ve actually been blessed to achieve my dream destinations of India and Japan—with Japan being a frequent stop of mine. But I genuinely love traveling because I get to see new places, meet amazing people and have these fantastic experiences that I’ll remember forever.
Favorite travel charity: I don’t know if it really falls under travel charity but Doctors Without Borders is an amazing organization with physicians who are willing to potentially put themselves in harm’s way to help those in need.
Best travel tip: Just go! There’s never a perfect time to do anything. If you wait for when there’s no work to do, or no one who needs you, you’ll never travel. As long as you’re not forgoing important things like making sure your electricity is on or your home/apartment is paid for, don’t create excuses to not travel! Whether it’s a domestic or international locale, there are travel deals out there to fit your budget!