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: Janice and George Mucalov
Occupation: Travel writers/photographers + bloggers
Hometown: Janice was born in the UK and grew up in Australia. George was born in Romania then lived in Germany. We met in Calgary, Canada.
Residence: Vancouver, Canada
College: Janice—University of Calgary; George—University of Toronto
College major: Janice—Psychology + Law; George—Philosophy + Law
Facebook: Sand In My Suitcase
Google+: Janice Mucalov (Sand In My Suitcase)
Pinterest: Janice Mucalov
Short bio: Lawyers by profession, we now write full-time. Our travel articles and photos are published in North American magazines and newspapers such as TravelAge West, The Vancouver Sun, NUVO, Cruise & Travel Lifestyles, AAA Carolinas GO, and Taste of Life. We’ve even won several travel writing awards for our work! We also write luxury travel tales with a twist of adventure for our own blog: Sand In My Suitcase. When we travel, you’ll find us hiking, kayaking, bicycling, scuba diving and exploring city streets from end to end (poking our heads into this and that). We like venturing off-the-beaten-path, even getting a little, er…sandy sometimes, knowing there’s always a soft return.
How often do you fly? About four to six times a year. Lately, we’ve been taking fewer but longer trips (up to six weeks each).
How many countries have you been to? We’ve never kept count! But many—from Zambia and French Polynesia to Myanmar and New Zealand, South Africa and Greece to Hawaii, Turkey and Thailand…
How many continents have you been to? Janice has visited all, including Antarctica (the only continent George is missing).
Earliest travel memory: Janice—Christmas holidays in a simple seaside cabin in South Australia (Christmas supper was cold chicken sandwiches on the beach). George—a winter holiday as a boy in the Carpathians, watching tiny figures crawling high up on snowy mountain crests.
Favorite American city: San Francisco.
Favorite international city: Istanbul (its East-West mix is so exotic).
Least favorite country: That’s a tough one. We’ve pretty well liked every place we’ve been.
I have no desire to go to: Any place ISIS rules.
Friendliest people in the world: The Mexicans are always friendly and infinitely patient. And the Balinese and Thai people are so warm too.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Petra in Jordan is awe-inspiring.
Favorite airline: For flying business class, Air New Zealand has super-comfy, leather, lie-flat beds (and the wines are great!). EVA Air surprised us when flying economy with its great service (they offered complimentary hot ginger tea in the boarding lounge and even gave out disposable slippers onboard).
Aisle or window: Aisle for Janice, window for George.
Favorite airport lounge: Turkish Airlines’ lounge in Istanbul.
Favorite international airport: We liked the open-air Koh Samui airport in Thailand recently. Free Wi-Fi plus free sandwiches, cakes and drinks for everyone. It’s privately owned by Bangkok Airways.
Favorite hotel: The Fullerton Bay Hotel in Singapore recently blew us away. Beautiful suites on the water. And we can’t forget the whimsical art-filled Tugu Lombok on the Indonesian island of Lombok!
Favorite cruise line: Another tough question as we’ve enjoyed 40+ cruises. We really like river cruises. The Oberoi Zahra pampered us on a Nile River cruise in Egypt. For scuba diving in ultimate luxury, we loved the “Alila Purnama” (a “phinisi” sailboat) in Indonesia. We took an amazing African river safari on the Zambezi Queen. And Belmond does a lovely job river cruising in Myanmar (bouncy oxcart rides and all!).
Favorite island: For barefoot luxury – and all the lobster you want – you can’t beat private Mnemba Island off Zanzibar. And with that popsicle-blue lagoon, Bora Bora is absolutely dreamy too!
Favorite beach: Hamoa Beach in Hana on Maui (true escapism). And blinding white Bwejuu Beach on Zanzibar is a real surprise—we went “reef walking” and saw local village women harvest seaweed.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Cozinha Velha, in a castle in Queluz, Portugal.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Gardenias in Cabo San Lucas (big margaritas and cheap shrimp tacos).
Favorite fruit: Mangos.
Favorite food: Mussels and pommes frites.
Least favorite food: Ceviche and papaya.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Pinotage—basically anything “wine.”
Favorite travel movie(s): Out of Africa, The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Sideways.
Favorite travel show(s): International House Hunters (odd choice perhaps, but it lets you arm-chair “live” around the world).
Favorite travel book(s): Janice—”Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. George—”Travels” by Michael Crichton.
Right now I am reading: Janice—“The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath. George—“Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: Travel + Leisure, Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report, Wandering Carol (her luxury travel blog makes us laugh), and many other travel blogs!
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! TripAdvisor, i-Escape.
5 things you bring on a plane: Ear plugs, sleeping mask, neck cushion, bottle of water, and an apple (if you’re allowed to take it through US customs!).
What do you always seem to forget? Nothing…usually.
What do you like least about travel? Jet lag. Long security line-ups. And being scrunched in a tiny middle airplane seat at the back of the plane—on a long-haul flight.
Most embarrassing travel moment: Janice—I’m always after George for misplacing sunglasses, keys, his jacket. (Because I never forget, right?) And then on a layover in Amsterdam, I lost my passport and tickets. I had to take a train to the Hague to get a temporary passport. Of course, I missed that flight! George—“When visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar, recently, I noticed lots of laughter and amusement around me, only to realize my mandatory longyi (wrap-around skirt) had slipped to the ground. At least I had shorts on underneath! Back to learning how to tie a longyi knot…
I’m embarrassed but I haven’t been to: Neither of us have visited New York (except to change planes) or Las Vegas.
Worst travel moment: Having our rental car’s locked trunk broken into in Portugal and stripped clean of passports, money, tickets, clothes, everything—leaving us walking around in bathing suits, until some of it magically re-surfaced, dumped by the roadside where police suggested we go look.
What’s your dream destination? We’d love to return to Africa. A safari was our dream trip, which we made happen a couple of years ago in South Africa and Zambia. The wild elephants, stealthy crocodiles, feeding lions, and grunting hippos—pure magic.
Favorite travel charity: Doctors Without Borders.
Best travel tip: Don’t try to squeeze in too much. Be open to new experiences. Smile.