Jim Byers
Jim Byers

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: Jim Byers

Occupation: Travel writer freelance

Hometown: Castro Valley, California

Residence: Toronto, Canada

College: UCLA

College major: Political Science

Website: jimbyerstravel.com

Twitter: @jimbyerstravel

Facebook: Jim Byers

Instagram: jimbyerstravel1

Pinterest: Jim Byers Travel

YouTube: Jim Byers

Short bio: Married a Canadian girl and moved from the SF Bay Area to Canada in 1981. I only look back on occasion (usually in February). Covered politics for 15 years and then golf, baseball and six Olympic Games during my sports writing days. Was Toronto Star travel editor for five years and now freelance for everyone from The Dallas News to National Geographic and WestJet Magazine.

How often do you fly? Two to three roundtrip flights a month. Sometimes more. (See above note on February.)

How many countries have you been to? I think about 45.

How many continents have you been to? Six.

Earliest travel memory: Probably a driving trip from California to Vancouver, Banff, Yellowstone, and more when I was 10 or so.

Favorite American city: San Francisco.

Favorite international city: Other than Toronto, I’ll say Lisbon.

Least favorite country: All the ones that haven’t invited me yet.

I have no desire to go to: Antarctica.

Friendliest people in the world: Newfoundlanders, hands down.

Country with the meanest immigration officers: USA, hands down.

Favorite World Heritage Site: Easter Island.

Favorite airline: Emirates business class.

Favorite aircraft type: Don’t care much but I like the big ones.

Aisle or window: Aisle.

Favorite airport lounge: Any of them in Asia.

Favorite U.S. airport: San Francisco (because if I arrive it means I’m going home).

Favorite international airport: Singapore.

Favorite hotel: A Schooner Inn in Holyrood, Newfoundland; a B&B run by a lovely woman who can teach you to cook cod tongues.

Favorite cruise line: Silversea.

Favorite travel credit card: TD Aeroplan.

Favorite island: Maui.

Favorite beach: Napili, Maui.

Favorite National Park: In Canada, Banff. In the U.S., Yosemite.

Favorite fancy restaurant: TOCA at Toronto Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Val’s Burgers in Hayward, California.

Favorite airport restaurant: Tim Horton’s for coffee in Canada (and the occasional toasted coconut Timbit).

Favorite bar: Downtown Hotel, Dawson City, Yukon; home of the “Sour Toe” Cocktail.

Favorite fruit: Strawberry.

Favorite food: My wife’s lasagna (she might be reading this; brownie points!).

Least favorite food: Raw tomatoes.

Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Old-fashioned.

Favorite travel movie(s): Sideways, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Favorite travel show(s): Don’t watch any.

Favorite travel book(s): “Travels With Charley,” “Huckleberry Finn.”

Right now I am reading: Michael Connelly’s “The Wrong Side of Goodbye.”

Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: National Geographic Traveler, Skift, Travel Pulse.

Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! TravMedia.com for ideas, news and support.

5 things you bring on a plane: Laptop, iPhone, blanket that folds into a pillow, a good book, and all the patience I can muster.

What do you always seem to forget? I forget to ask P.R.folks for all the social media handles I should use when I’m away.

What do you like least about travel? Airports.

What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? A nice bottle of Kentucky bourbon.

Favorite travel app(s): Apple Maps.

Most embarrassing travel moment: Was in Barcelona before I was a travel writer and ran out of money at 3 am. No ATMs in those days so walked five miles to my hotel.

I’m embarrassed I haven’t been to: Canada’s Northwest Territories. And Central America.

Worst travel moment: Dashing through Denver airport on way to my niece’s wedding I Hawaii last year.

What’s your dream destination? The Marquesas.

Favorite travel charity: Habitat for Humanity.

Best travel tip: Book an aisle seat at the very back of the plane. Middle seats at the back are usually last ones booked so you have a better chance of an empty spot next to you.


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