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: Jenna Mahoney
Occupation: Travel Editor, Bridal Guide
Hometown: Red Sox Nation hashtag TITLETOWN
Short Bio: When Jenna Mahoney was in middle school, her teachers refused to believe her stories about spending weekends jetting off to the Caribbean. But as the daughter of an airline worker, Jenna had lots of opportunities to hop on down to the islands and across the country. And her childhood travel bug has seriously stuck.
Luckily, her career choice has afforded her the opportunity to continue to explore different cities and sights across the globe. For the past decade, Jenna has served as a travel expert and editor at major national magazines. She has contributed to trade and consumer publications, served on roundtables for major industry events, has spoken at international travel trend symposiums and given numerous media appearances.
As Bridal Guide’s Travel Editor, Jenna has her finger on the pulse of the destination wedding and honeymoon business and knows exactly what today’s couples are looking for in the ideal romantic getaway. Jenna has consulted major international hotel brands, destinations and tourism boards on the subject of romance travel. And she promotes Bridal Guide across the globe in various capacities.
How often do you fly: It really depends on the month, the magazine’s ship cycle and the time of year. From February to April I flew nearly 20 times. In May, my wings were clipped. I don’t expect to get on a plane again until late July, although I may go Miami for a night before the end of June.
How many countries have you been to: That’s a good question… I just counted and it looks like 33 and a half. (That is such a puny number!) As you well know, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is solely recognized by Turkey. When we went there we had to show our passports and fill out paperwork at that checkpoint in Nicosia, but according to the larger international community, it is considered occupied territory.
How many continents have you been to: I haven’t been to Antartica or the Land of Oz, so that means five.
Favorite American city: It is always so hard for me to pick a favorite. I love NYC, obvs., because it has been my home for pretty much my entire adult life. I enjoy having seasons, not having to drive—ever—and getting the opportunities to experience a little bit of the world everyday through the food, people and events. I really love LA too. I know that we aren’t supposed to love each other, but I do. I like how the houses are comfortable homes, not shoe boxes, and they have gardens with fruit trees! In LA, the surf is always up and the vibe is so relaxed. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked San Antonio when I was there to speak at a conference last year. The Spanish Colonial architecture is way cool and that boat ride along the river is fun. And of course, NOLA is a blast—it’s the perfect bachelorette city!
Favorite international city: Ok I have a definitive answer for this: My adopted home city Valencia, Spain. It is the birthplace of paella, the awesome architect Santiago Calatrava and someone ever closer to me, my husband. Valencia is cool because it has a wide beach that is lined with delicioso paella restaurants. Everyone (like Hemingway and King Juan Carlos) prefers La Pepica, but we like to go next door to L’Estimat if we are in the beach mood. Otherwise, we hit up Bergamonte, which is actually a private tennis club, for Michelin-star rated rice dishes. Yum! I also really like Buenos Aires for the shopping, strolling and museum-going. And I think nothing beats Amsterdam in tulip season. Oh, I also had an awesome township experience in Johannesburg.
Least favorite country: I’ve got a few states I don’t love, but that’s not so for countries.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Iguazu Falls are pretty spectacular, as are Victoria. The cool thing about Victoria is that they are so wide, while Iguazu are super thick with water, lengthwise. I adore the medieval walled city of Carcassone, France. It is the definition of a storybook setting. But I think the site that has had the most impact on me was Machu Picchu. I visited six weeks before my wedding and the experience was just so mystical—and dare I say, spiritual—that it not only goes into the win column, but I’ve also become the site’s biggest champion. It is one of the few places on earth I think everyone should experience in her lifetime.
Favorite airline: I can’t say I have one that I cherish and adore. Virgin Atlantic’s service to LAX is nice. I got to watch the Pixies doc on repeat on a leg once. And I like the lack of elbow-crushing carts… But really, my favorite airline would be one that gave me loads of fresh drinking water, a clean blanket and an upgrade.
Favorite aircraft type: This is a funny story, I hate.hate.hate flying, so the aircraft that gets me there safely and on time wins each time.
Aisle or window: Aisle 4EVA
Favorite airport lounge: The one that lets me in gets crowned with all splendor and glory. But seriously, I sort of really do love the Bangkok Airways lounge. It’s open to all ticketed passengers and there’s a popcorn machine!
Favorite U.S. airport: There’s nothing like landing at home.
Favorite international airport: Well the shopping at LHR is really the bee’s knees, but I have a 100% baggage loss incidence there, so I don’t fly via Heathrow anymore. I was pleasantly surprised by JNB, which has some good shopping as well, but more importantly, the bookstore and pharmacies are off the hook. Oh! And I love CNX because I saw the latest issue of Bridal Guide on sale at the magazine shop.
Favorite hotel: In March, my overworked husband and I escaped to Amanyara in Turks & Caicos. It was easily one of the top resort experiences I’ve had in my life. I also adore glamping. So posh tented accommodations like AndBeyond Xarrana or rustic cabins with in the jungle with stellar service, such as Inkaterra Amazonica Lodge and AndBeyond Matesi get my vote. The spas, service and rooms at Mandarin Oriental hotels are always fantastic. And the Four Seasons hotels just know me so well, that I feel at home no matter where I am in the world.
Favorite cruise line: I’ve only ever been on Disney ships and private charters. Last year, I sailed to the Bahamas with my mom aboard the Dream and this winter I went to the christening of the new Fantasy with my sister. Mariah was there! I cried; I love her so much!! I wasn’t sure if I’d like being on a boat with loads of people for a long time, but the Disney ships are designed so that there are loads of cool adult areas. Of course, I love the champagne bars.
Favorite island: I’ve got to give props to Nantucket, which is an hour ferry ride away from my home. We went to the former whaling capital for a mini-moon and it was supah relaxing. My husband and I visited Lanai days after we got engaged it was really special. I had one of my best dinners ever at the Hotel Lanai. The snorkeling off the beach at the Four Seasons Menele Bay was awesome (it’s only been topped by the waters of Amanayara). And the Garden of the Gods, a dusty red rock formation at the top of the island is unforgettable. I can’t forget the sunset cruise by Sweetheart Rock and spotting all the dolphins. We loved it! I also think Six Senses Yao Noi is pretty spectacular. The rooms are ridic. (in the best way possible) with jungly privacy, water views, indoor/outdoor bathrooms and living rooms, and private plunge pools. Outdoor showers are top on my hotel amenities-wants-and-needs list. What is so great about Yao Noi (besides its far-off location, great food, jungle-hidden spa, the beautiful yoga platform and the fact that it has its own time zone) is that after just spending two nights there all the guests get that post-spa treatment glow—it is really absolutely relaxing. Cuba, and all it has to offer from food, music and architecture and beaches, is pretty rad too.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Well, I love Jaleo in Vegas. I think el Jefe is wicked talented and does great takes on traditional Spanish dishes. I also have a special place in my heart for La Pergola at the Cavalieri Hilton in Rome, which was the first Michelin-rated restaurant I ever experienced (it has three!). And Signal at the Cape Grace in Cape Town is another close-to-my-heart place, since it is where we had our very special honeymoon feast. And they have vegan tasting menus—amazing!
Favorite hole in the wall: My husband and all of his friends swear by El Homi, a bar del barrio near the beach area of Valencia, Spain. The tapas and atmosphere are very traditional, which to me means too much meat and too many old guys telling boob jokes. I prefer Las Cuevas just off of the Plaza de la Virgin and La Pergola (I know—another one) near the Jardines, both in Valencia. The family-owned La Pergola serves the best sandwiches and light tapas around. They are only open for lunch and they close when they want to or run out of food. For veggie goodies in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, there is no other place than Mama’s. You sit on her porch, while she whips up yucca “burgers” and fish sandwiches. Her kids and grandkids serve the tables in between catching up on whatever in on TV. She’s only open when she’s got food, so ask the locals.
Favorite fruit: I’m a New England girl, so I love my blueberries and cranberries, and the raspberries from outside the kitchen at my parents’ house are the best.
Favorite food: I really dig leafy greens and, honestly, a plate of pasta is my idea of a good time, but I’m also into paella and Thai curries. And I love Indian food. I can eat my weight in Indian food at any time of the day. Really, try me.
Least favorite food: Meat. You know what Morrissey says.
Drink of choice (In the air and on the ground): I drink water all the time. I never feel like I can’t have another sip of water. I’m trying to get over a serious coffee problem, but I never drink it in the air. Never. And I adore champs. One time, I won a champagne secret taste test.
Favorite travel movie(s): Before Sunrise is such a classic look at college kids traveling around Europe. It’s almost too bad that kids today will never have that butterfly-in-your-stomach experience of wondering how your EuroTrain love story would have ended… Because now, they’d friend each other on Facebook before even getting off the train. I also like the business of Up in the Air. It should be required watching for folks before they go through security.
Favorite travel show(s): I just got cable after a decade without, so I’m not equipped to really answer this question.
Favorite travel book(s): The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe because sometimes all you need is a really cool closet to take you on your best adventure. A Moveable Feast is a fantastic and romantic (although it is truly heartbreaking in the traditional sense) look at Paris, Spain, the south of France and Austria. And who didn’t want to be Lady Brett from the Sun Also Rises? I mean come on! It paints the glamour of old world Spain and the fun of the fiestas. It was written at the same time, so it has a similar, albeit, fictitious vibe.
Right now I am reading: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. On my iPad I have the Rum Diary (in a lot of ways it makes me want to check out Puerto Rico) and Our Bodies, Ourselves, which I refer to now and again. All of this talk about womens’ health issues in our country has sparked me to reread it.
Five things you bring on a plane: Too many shoes, too many magazines and too many wires. Seriously, after a lifetime of picking up and boarding a plane on a moment’s notice you’d think I’d have it a bit more streamlined. If I’m forced to check my red roller, I always have clean underoos, yoga pants, a tank top, a black dress and heels in my Longchamp tote. That way I can do at least a day and a night sans baggage.
What do you always seem to forget: I always forget something to do with my contacts. It could be the case, the solution or, like last time, the little plastic discs themselves.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport duty free store? It isn’t really duty-free, but I really, really, really encourage my husband to pick up fashion and lifestyle magazines for me whenever he leaves the country. Two days ago he brought me Marie Claire España Mini, Vogue Belleza and Vogue Colecciones. I can read and speak Spanish, but language doesn’t matter. In Toyko in April, I got this awesome Lucky-like book called Klassy. And no, it isn’t Khardashian related. I love magazines!
Favorite travel iPhone app(s): The TAT (the Tourism Authority of Thailand) has this cool language app. It gives you phonetic spellings and there’s a sound option. Cool town! I also like any map apps or more, importantly subway map helpers are really the best.
Most embarrassing/worst travel moment: Hands down the dumbest moment I’ve had while on the road (besides asking when the French left Tahiti. Hint: It’s still French-ruled) was when I tipped my Thai massage therapist in Mexican pesos. The 100 baht note and the 50 pesos bill are the same color pink and the same size. A Thai coin also looks very similar to the 2 Euro coin. I’ve caught myself trying to use it on many occasions.
What’s your dream destination: At this moment, a dream destination would be anywhere that my husband and I can go together without one of us having to work. That would be followed by a two-week surf and yoga camp for me on mainland Mexico or Costa Rica. Besides that I’m obsessed with checking out Indo. I want to do a week or so in Bali for the honeymooners and a week checking out the temples and the jungle area. I’d love to experience the dunes of Namibia, the hot springs of Iceland and the protected islands off the coast of Panama. I also really want to do the Oberoi Nile cruise (it sounds so honeymoon perfect and like a total and complete trip of a lifetime), experience the Four Seasons Explorer around the Maldives, and I need to see Easter Island. And I’m constantly threatening to do a detox trip like the Ranch at Life Oak in Malibu. It looks and sounds amazing.
Favorite travel website(s) – besides JohnnyJet.com, of course!: A friend of mine and her husband have this great little site called EuroCheapo and it is just like it sounds. They have a feature on free stuff to do. Who doesn’t love free? I like the voice of Hotel Chatter, although I’ll admit that I don’t often read it.
Best travel tip: Sometimes it is pays to be a hoarder. Whenever someone offers me a pen, a bottle of water, napkins/tissues, wet-naps or peel-able fruit and wrapped snacks, I take it. I try to keep a pen in the pockets of my travel jackets (blue or black blazers) to fill out paperwork, hotel forms and take notes. Fresh water can often be a commodity when you are on the road, so I never want to be left without it. Ditto toilet paper. You can’t imagine how many friends I’ve made in public restrooms around the world. Wet naps are good for disinfecting your hands or getting a coffee stain out. And sometimes you need to fuel up with a snack! Just remember to take any fruit out of your bag before crossing international boarders. You don’t want to be the guy who gets sniffed out at MIA—trust me, that little room is worse than any DMV.