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: Erica Gragg
Occupation: Co-Owner, Co-Founder & Chief Curator of Escape To Shape
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
Residence: Hudson, NY—but with my travel schedule I’m rarely there. The world is my home.
College: St. Mary’s College of California
College major: Communications
Facebook: Escape To Shape
Pinterest: Escape To Shape
YouTube: Escape To Shape
Short bio: Erica Gragg is best known as the co-creator of the acclaimed travel, fitness and lifestyle program Escape to Shape, which combines travel and exploration around the world with nutrition, fitness and local flavor for a truly balanced experience. As a travel and wellness expert, Erica curates each Escape to Shape trip by drawing on her vast knowledge and cultural insight to create a vacation in which minds, bodies, hearts, and souls are transformed.
A former New York PR gal, Erica left the city life behind and headed south to Tulum, Mexico, where she co-created the popular fitness program Bikini Boot Camp. In 2007, she co-authored a book by the same title, offering her advice on how to live a balanced life through meditation, fitness and nutrition. Later, Erica was inspired to expand her vision and travel to the far corners of the world, and she conceived new fitness and travel programs, Escape to Shape and Destination Detox. The foundation of the programs is Erica’s belief in the power of traveling, not only to learn by discovering a new culture, but also to rediscover oneself.
A “wellness expert to watch” per Condé Nast Traveler, Erica shares her unique philosophy as a contributor to AFAR magazine and Charlotte’s Book. She has also contributed to publications such as SHAPE, Health and SELF magazines in the US, and Red, The London Times, The Sunday Express, and Healthy in the UK.
How often do you fly? Too many times to count. I’m on a plane or multiple planes at least once a week for nine months of the year.
How many countries have you been to? 50 countries & counting…
How many continents have you been to? 5
Earliest travel memory: Getting horrible sunburn on our first of many family vacations to Hawaii. I must have been 8- or 10-years-old, and while I’m sure my parents put sunscreen on me, being the fair-headed girl that I am it was just too much for my skin. I remember taking ice baths for days. Needless to say, that happened once and I have been incredibly careful in the sun ever since.
Favorite American city: San Francisco.
Favorite international city: I love so many for so many different reasons—Rome and Istanbul for the history; Cartagena for the proximity to the United States, yet you feel worlds-away; Antwerp, Belgium for it’s style and ease; Marrakech for its markets (souks).
Least favorite country: Panama—sorry Panama, but I tried.
I have no desire to go to: I’m a curious person, so there is no place that I would not consider experiencing.
Friendliest people in the world: Bhutanese!!!!!
Favorite World Heritage Site: Angkor Wat & Old Town, Cartagena de Indias.
Favorite airline: Cathay Pacific.
Aisle or window: Both have their advantages…and if I’m lucky enough to be upgraded to Business Class, either works for me!
Favorite airport lounge: Cathay Pacific Hong Kong.
Favorite U.S. airport: San Francisco—they have a yoga room!
Favorite international airport: Hong Kong & Heathrow.
Favorite hotel: Uma by Como, Punakha, Bhutan. I actually like all of the Como properties—they have a refined, modern yet comfortable feel. Also, staying in Cuixmala, near Careyes, Mexico is an amazing experience. And Kahanda Kanda just outside of Galle in Sri Lanka has a wonderful elegant, homey feel.
Favorite cruise line: I have actually never been on a cruise!
Favorite travel credit card: Platinum Amex.
Favorite island: Formentera, Spain & Cuba, Pantelleria & Santorini.
Favorite beach: Tulum—the part towards the Sian Ka’an reserve, where it still feels a bit undiscovered. When it’s time to move south, Trancoso, Brazil—now that is a beautiful beach!
Favorite fancy restaurant: Too many to count!
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Jobi in Rio de Janeiro for their Octopus Carpaccio; the taco stand near the fruteria in Todos Santos for their tacos al pastor; and Hotel Majagua in Rosario Islands, Colombia for their whole fried fish.
Favorite bar: Buza Bar, Dubrovnik, Croatia—location, location, location!
Favorite fruit: Mangos, mangosteen and rambutan.
Favorite food: Tacos.
Least favorite food: Mayonnaise—I detest it. Detest. Did I mention that I detest mayonnaise?
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): In the air: water, water & more water—combination of flat & sparkling. On the ground, water + wine, although I always start each day off with hot water, lemon, cayenne, turmeric & a touch of honey to keep my system aligned.
Favorite travel show(s): Anthony Bourdain always entertains & keeps it real.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! Turbulence Forecaster—ironic, I know, but I am actually not the best flier. I’m fine if the flight is smooth, but get very anxious by bumps and shakes on planes. This website gives me a sneak peak on what to expect.
What do you always seem to forget? Shampoo! Thankfully most places I travel to have some in the rooms, but not always.
What do you like least about travel? Turbulent flights.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Rimowa Pilot Case (luggage).
Most embarrassing travel moment:
I’m embarrassed I haven’t been to: India. Considering how many places I’ve traveled to, it’s hard to believe I have yet to visit India, unless stopping at the airport counts—which to me, it does not.
What’s your dream destination? Mongolia & New Zealand. And I REALLY wish we could host an Escape To Shape in Jordan, but given the situation in the surrounding area it’s definitely not the right time for it.
Best travel tip: Change does not happen inside your comfort zone, so get on a plane and go! Visit a new place, where you don’t speak the language, try new foods, explore new cultures & customs. Traveling offers you the opportunity to rediscover something about yourself AND reconnect with yourself.