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: Eli Jaxon-Bear
Occupation: Author and Teacher
Hometown: New York
Residence: Ashland, Oregon
College: University of Pittsburgh; Graduate School of International Studies, Denver
College major: Political Science and English
Facebook: Leela Community with Eli Jaxon-Bear
Short bio: Eli Jaxon-Bear is the author of “An Outlaw Makes It Home, Wake Up and Roar, Sudden Awakening, and Fixation to Freedom.” He has worked as a mailboy, dishwasher, steel-worker, teacher, and organic farmer. He was a community organizer with VISTA in Chicago and Detroit before entering a doctoral program at the Graduate School of International Studies in Denver, Colorado. He has been living with his partner and wife, Gangaji, since 1976. They currently reside in Ashland, Oregon. Eli meets people and teaches through the Leela Foundation.
How often do you fly? I am a million miler on United and now fly twice a year to Europe, and yearly to Australia, New Zealand and Maui plus local flights in the U.S.
How many countries have you been to? Who’s counting?
How many continents have you been to? All but Antarctica.
Earliest travel memory: Our family took a train from New York to Miami for a vacation when I was five-years old. Running through the cars playing cowboys with my little brother and the basket of food our grandma sent us off with in our sleeper compartment are still with me sixty-five years later.
Favorite American city: Used to be San Francisco but maybe now New York.
Favorite international city: Amsterdam is the best. Kyoto is also a gem.
I have no desire to go to: Poland or Russia.
Friendliest people in the world: Balinese and Thai are both really great. The most polite people are the Japanese.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: It changes. At one point it was the U.S. and for many it probably still is. Going into Communist Hungary was a challenge as we were met with soldiers with AK-47s who boarded our train and went through our luggage. But by far the worst is Israel.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Kyoto.
Favorite airline: Emirates.
Favorite aircraft type: A380.
Aisle or window: Ideally window in a 1-2-1 configuration.
Favorite airport lounge: Emirates in Dubai.
Favorite U.S. airport: Are there any? OK, Molokai is pretty great.
Favorite international airport: Dubai.
Favorite hotel: Brenner’s in Baden Baden.
Favorite cruise line: “Hey, wanna get a free ticket on a cruise?”
Favorite travel credit card: Amex Platinum since 1982. I really appreciate the upgrade perks in their Fine Hotels and Resorts program. It has gotten me upgrades at some of the best hotels in the world.
Favorite Island: Maui.
Favorite beach: Belongil Beach in Byron Bay, Australia. You can walk for miles and hardly see another person on a perfect walking surface.
Favorite National Park: Yosemite.
Favorite fancy restaurant: RAMON FREIXA MADRID all-time favorite but Copenhagen has an amazing number of great restaurants and the whole city dining scene has been organic for some time.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Lucinda’s in Mill Valley, CA..
Favorite fruit: Durian, mango, fresh figs, watermelon.
Favorite food: Kaiseki-style Japanese followed by really top dim sum.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Sparkling water. I find if I drink alcohol on the flight I don’t do as well with jetlag on landing.
Favorite travel movie(s): Mosquito Coast.
Favorite travel book(s): “Motoring with Mohammed,” an incredible adventure in Yemen; “On the Trail of Genghis Kahn,” amazing story of riding horseback alone from Mongolia to Budapest; “Shadow of the Silk Road,” by Colin Thubron takes us through the great oasis empires of central Asia; “Stranger in the Forest” is an amazing seven month walk alone through the wilds of Borneo by Eric Hansen.
Right now I am reading: A great historical novel on the French Revolution: “A Place of Greater Safety” by Hilary Mantel.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! nytimes.com/travel, TripAdvisor
5 things you bring on a plane: When flying a 12-hour or more flight I bring: a set of Bluetooth noise-canceling headphones, a small feather pillow like the kind good airlines used to have available, a Japanese buckwheat hull pillow, and a travel clock that I can set to the local time where I will be landing.
What do you always seem to forget? My issue is what I forget getting off the plane. I have left everything from my pillows to my headphones to my wallet and passport.
What do you like least about travel? United went from being the best of the U.S. airlines to the worst so I hate having to use them. Delays and cancellations are always hard. I believe there could be criminal prosecutions based on seat size and comfort as we are treated like cargo rather than people.
Favorite travel app(s): Trip Case.
Most embarrassing travel moment: Haven’t had any, but caused many for my wife.
Worst travel moment: I was flying from Kyushu, the southern island, to Osaka in 1983 and unbeknownst to me, the Yakuza, the Japanese mob, had brought in a Caucasian American to do a murder in Kyushu the night before. All the airports and train stations were under heavy guard. As the only white American in the airport I fit the profile and had to go through a very thorough search and questioning without having a clue what it was all about.
What’s your dream destination? Home.
Favorite travel charity: Doctors Without Borders.
Best travel tip: Forget the city-a-day type tours. Find a place that you love and spend enough time there to get beyond the surface tourist things. Get to know the local people, the food markets, local cafés, and discover their way of life.