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: Elliot Gillies
Occupation: Public Relations—Travel Industry
Hometown: Brisbane, Australia
Residence: Leland, NC
College: SUNY@New Paltz
College major: Economics
Facebook: Gillies and Zaiser
Short bio: Grew up in 60s and 70s world of journalism and PR (parents) so Mad Men was more of a home movie than TV show. Spent 25 years in corporate America before realizing it was much more fun to travel and promote travel—and with much nicer people.
How often do you fly? Too often with today’s dismal domestic airlines.
How many countries have you been to? If I were to guess, more than 60.
How many continents have you been to? All except two…but which two ??
Earliest travel memory: Too young to remember being moved from Australia to NY (a baby) but a family farm stay vacation somewhere in New England—remember the older son of the farmer shooting bats in the barn and picking up hay. Amazing.
Favorite American city: NYC—is there another?
Favorite international city: Right now—Budapest and Siem Reap.
Least favorite country: Don’t have one!!!
I have no desire to go to: Somewhere I have been before until I have been everywhere.
Friendliest people in the world: Hard one as it isn’t a cultural thing to me—just an outlook. But I have found the people of Barbados always willing to lend a hand…but even people in NC are friendly.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: TSA—USA. On the other hand—US customs officers are almost always courteous.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Galapagos.
Favorite airline: Anyone but US lines. Probably Singapore or Emirates—if I could afford to take them.
Favorite aircraft type: Private—but that doesn’t happen so small props. Otherwise, 767.
Aisle or window: Always aisle…
Favorite airport lounge: Air New Zealand.
Favorite U.S. airport: Newark—yep. But only because I know it so well.
Favorite hotel: Aria Budapest.
Favorite cruise line: Any of our clients—Scenic, Emerald Waterways, Star Clippers, and especially, French Country Waterways.
Favorite travel credit card: Chase United.
Favorite island: Greenland.
Favorite beach: Cancun, Mexico.
Favorite National Park: Yosemite.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Onboard French Country Waterways.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: New City Sushi in New City, NY.
Favorite airport restaurant: Really? Nope.
Favorite bar: Rooftop at Aria Budapest—top 10 in the world.
Favorite fruit: Strawberry.
Favorite food: Anything with pasta or sushi—actually anything made well.
Least favorite food: Brussels sprouts.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Bloody Mary.
Favorite travel movie(s): Airplane.
Favorite travel show(s): Sorry—until Johnny Jet does one, none.
Favorite travel podcast(s): No clue.
Favorite travel book(s): The one I read before I go somewhere…otherwise “A Walk in the Woods” brings me back to a six-week trek I took with my best friend in high school.
Right now I am reading: “The President is Missing” (if only it were true about the current one).
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: Johnny Jet, of course; Garden and Gun; T+L.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! Google Flight, Kayak.
5 things you bring on a plane: Ambien, water, a good book, a phone loaded with Netflix shows, Parrot headphones.
What do you always seem to forget? A coat when I go from warm NC to a colder place, and water.
What do you like least about travel? The flight. I love airplanes, but the airlines have done their best to make flying a misery sport.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Chocolate.
Favorite travel app(s): Google Maps.
Most embarrassing travel moment: I thought I had left my passport on the small cruise ship I had spent a week on with media—in Greenland. It had already departed as we toured a glacier and I frantically pulled apart my bag (trying to not let the media see me so they would think their host was an idiot) before we had to go to the airport for the only flight out. Imagining myself sitting at the airport for a week until the cruise ship returned from its voyage…finally found it after losing five pounds of sweat…right where I had put it in my secret compartment. Of course, there is also the time I took my family of five to the wrong airport in London for our flight home…expensive screw up…
I’m embarrassed I haven’t been to: Anywhere in Africa…and it has been on my bucket list for years.
Worst travel moment: Hospitalized in Branson, MO—but then I found their hospital to be incredibly nice with great, caring staff…and MedJet flew me back to NY for surgery so the Lear Jet flight was sort of cool…
What’s your dream destination? Antarctica and any African safari.
Favorite travel charity: Only contribute to local ones—preferably that support the children.
Best travel tip: Remember the trip starts the moment you leave your home—not when you arrive. So, make it all an adventure (and you will get through the airport hell in a better mood). Plus—you are a guest—adjust to the local customs, don’t expect them to adjust to you.