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: Joe Sharkey
Occupation: Writer, college teacher
College: Penn State
College major: English
Short bio: Journalist 45+ years: New York Times (columnist, 19 years till 2015), Wall Street Journal (editor), Philadelphia Inquirer (reporter and columnist). Author of five books, one of which, “Above Suspicion,” has been adapted for a movie starring Emilia Clarke and Jack Huston, directed by Phillip Noyce, release date later in 2017. I was a consultant on the shoot. Two other books optioned for movies. In 2006, famously survived and wrote about a horrific mid-air collision that killed 152 over the Amazon in Brazil. Hobbies include travel and horseback riding, most memorably on treks through Connemara, Ireland, and usually now in Saguaro National Park adjacent to my home in Tucson. Working on a novel series about exploits of a laid-off investigative reporter who becomes an international travel writer. Teach journalism at University of Arizona. Vietnam veteran (1968).
How often do you fly? Less frequently than when I was writing the weekly “On the Road” column for the NY Times.
How many countries have you been to? Lots and lots.
How many continents have you been to? All except the icy poles.
Earliest travel memory: Won a contest as a paperboy for the (now defunct, alas) Philadelphia Evening Bulletin in 1958. Three-day trip to Washington and overnight steamer on the Chesapeake from Baltimore to Williamsburg, Va. Thought it was the swellest and most exotic thing ever, though I had previously been no farther south in my young life than Wildwood, New Jersey.
Favorite American city: New York.
Favorite international city: Paris.
Least favorite country: Zimbabwe.
I have no desire to go to: Brazil.
Friendliest people in the world: Americans, by far. 2nd place: Dutch.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: U.S.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Mexico City center/Xochumilco.
Favorite airline: Qatar.
Favorite aircraft type: Legacy 600 (that sucker saved my life). Seriously, though, for commercial: A380.
Aisle or window: Aisle.
Favorite airport lounge: Cathay Pacific Hong Kong.
Favorite U.S. airport: Midway.
Favorite international airport: Schiphol.
Favorite hotel: Dorchester in London, and Park Hyatt Tokyo.
Favorite cruise line: Never been on a cruise.
Favorite travel credit card: Capital One Venture.
Favorite island: Malta.
Favorite beach: Sanibel, FL.
Favorite National Park: Saguaro National Park.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Jean-Georges, New York, but it’s been years and now who knows?
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Poco & Moms Mexican, Tucson.
Favorite bar: Arizona Inn, Tucson. It’s like the Bel Air Hotel, but without the “Bel Air.”
Favorite fruit: Apple.
Favorite food: Pasta.
Least favorite food: Yams and anything resembling yams.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Cranapple juice.
Favorite travel movie(s): Lost in Translation (business travel ennui); Roman Holiday (for the amazing scenes of early 1950s Rome, not for the dumb plot, though Audrey Hepburn is just so lovely).
Favorite travel show(s): NBAA. I love wallowing in that scene as an outsider, and the parties are amazing.
Right now I am reading: “Hue 1968” (Mark Bowden); “Turn, Magic Wheel” (Dawn Powell).
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: Johnny Jet, Joesentme. I don’t read any of the travel magazines or any newspaper travel sections, which I consider out of touch and humorless.
5 things you bring on a plane: Laptop, Kindle, phone, neck pillow, legal pad.
What do you always seem to forget? Nothing. I’m squared away, thanks to my wife.
What do you like least about travel? Airport security theater.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Cuban cigars.
Most embarrassing travel moment: Brought family to 2-week vacation at cabin on Lower Saranac Lake in the New York Adirondacks in 1987, but mistakenly arrived a week earlier than the reservation. That is still family lore.
I’m embarrassed I haven’t been to: Greece. Very embarrassed.
Worst travel moment: Mid-air collision at 37,000 feet between business jet I was a passenger on and a 737 carrying 154 over the central Amazon. All 154 died. We seven survivors on the business jet were arrested and held for several days in Amazon in ugly xenophobic furor.
What’s your dream destination? A return trip to Malta, where I spent almost a year in 1976.
Favorite travel charity: Doctors Without Borders, African Wildlife Foundation.
Best travel tip: As the Boy Scouts say, Be Prepared.
Thanks for the Poco & Moms recommendation. We’re visiting Tucson next week and will give it a try. I love Tucson!