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: Johanna Read
Occupation: Travel writer and photographer
Hometown: Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Residence: Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (when not travelling)
College: Queen’s University
College major: BAH in psychology and sociology, Master of Public Administration
Facebook: Johanna TravelEater Read
Google+: Johanna TravelEater Read
Short bio: Johanna Read is a Canadian freelance writer and photographer specializing in travel, food and responsible tourism. A former Government of Canada executive, Johanna retired early to pursue her passion: travel. Writing for a variety of print and digital publications, she loves to encourage sustainable tourism and to promote unique destinations. A 2016 goal is repeating her six-continents-in-one-year travel feat. Links to all her writing are at TravelEater.net.
How often do you fly? There’s no pattern, a few times a month, sometimes every couple months.
How many countries have you been to? As of this moment, 52.
How many continents have you been to? Six (not Antarctica) (yes, I’m of the there-are-seven-continents school). Two years in a row I was on six continents in each year.
Earliest travel memory: Going to Hawaii as a two-year-old. I fell in love with the “big water.”
Favorite American city: San Francisco, as it’s probably the most Canadian. But I was charmed by Hot Springs, Arkansas on a recent press trip.
Favorite international city: Too hard to answer! But my favourite countries are Namibia, Uruguay and Laos.
Least favorite country: Ummmm…Viet Nam, but I’m willing to give it another try.
I have no desire to go to: ?! I want to go everywhere !
Friendliest people in the world: Uruguayans (especially if you pronounce it the way they do in the southern parts of South America—”Ur-u-wash-o”).
Country with the meanest immigration officers: USA. Without question.
Favorite World Heritage site: The Angkor complex for culture, and Galápagos and Iguazu Falls for nature. But I really want to see the pyramids and Petra.
Favorite airline: Singapore Airlines, though I’ve yet to try Emirates.
Favorite aircraft type: Isn’t the A380 the coolest plane? However, I recently had my first helicopter ride and thought that was pretty sweet!
Aisle or window: Completely depends on the length of the trip.
Favorite airport lounge: If only I could visit lounges frequently enough to have a favourite…
Favorite U.S. airport: In the US? None. But I love Vancouver’s YVR with its fish tanks and waterfall.
Favorite international airport: Singapore’s Changi.
Favorite hotel: Oh, this is really tough since I write about luxury and boutique hotels…Villa Sungai in Bali was pretty spectacular in an understated way. Namibia’s Mowani Mountain Camp for the luxe facilities and nearby desert elephants. For a city hotel: I was impressed by my recent stay at Algodon Mansion in Buenos Aires.
Favorite cruise line: I’ve only been on two sailing lines; though Star Clippers’ ships were prettier, Windstar was nicest and the most relaxing way to cross the Atlantic.
Favorite travel credit card: While I don’t like that Amazon is taking over the world, I do like the Amazon.ca Visa which doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees (a rare find for Canadians).
Favorite island: New Zealand’s north island and all the dolphins that frolic around it.
Favorite beach: Caribbean beaches are pretty much perfect, like Grenada’s Grand Anse and the beaches along Cuba’s Cayo Santa Maria. Beaches elsewhere, like on Gili Trawangan, Indonesia, may look perfect from afar, but usually have issues like sharp dead coral that hurts your feet and hurts your heart because it was human-caused.
Favorite fancy restaurant: I had an incredible lunch at UCO in Buenos Aires. Joël Robuchon in Monaco was pretty impressive. My latest fave in Vancouver is the Peruvian/Japanese Ancora.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: A street stall by Chiang Mai’s South Gate, where a husband and wife team make the perfect pad kra prao. The fact that Mrs. Pa’s smoothies are just a few steps away puts this place to the top of my list.
Favorite bar: Heritage Suites’ in Siem Reap, Cambodia—great cocktails, nibbles, often live music, and super interesting expat crowd.
Favorite fruit: I’m passionate for passionfruit. And raspberries. And blueberries. And cherries (but only if they’re from Turkey, British Columbia or Washington state).
Favorite food: Fruit (can’t you tell from my answer above?). Though my favourite cuisine is Thai and Lao.
Least favorite food: Anything squishy—like oysters and sea urchin. I’m not too keen on innards either.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): In the air, a gin and tonic is always reliable. On the ground, a passionfruit pisco sour or passionfruit caipirinha please! After dinner, a late-harvest botrytis-infected wine will make me smile and inhale deeply.
Favorite travel movie(s): The Talented Mr Ripley is a cool film and attracted me to Italy, but the one I keep going back to is Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Favorite travel show(s): Star Trek: The Next Generation (and not just because of Captain Picard).
Favorite travel book(s): I like novels with well-developed characters and interesting plots that take place somewhere I’d like to go, so I can learn and be entertained at the same time. Like the novel I will write one day, called “Caution Stumble,” which starts off in Viet Nam. (Fingers crossed!)
Right now I am reading: “Harry Potter.” Again.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: Travelfish. The Wayward Post. Afar.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! Travelfish for advice about Southeast Asia. Vancouver Flight Deals for notifications on amazingly cheap airfares. World Nomads for travel insurance, safety and destination tips, helpful Q&A from community members, and fab contests and scholarships.
5 things you bring on a plane: Podcasts, a fake pashmina, extra snacks, an empty bottle for water, lip balm.
What do you always seem to forget? To turn my phone to low power mode so I have a hope in hell of the battery lasting all day.
What do you like least about travel? Packing and unpacking, so I try to take as little as possible.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? The original Dolce & Gabbana eau de toilette, the perfume I’ve been wearing since 1993, if only it still existed. Otherwise it’s always good to have extra bottle of Campari on hand.
Favorite travel app(s): WhatsApp to keep in touch with home. XE Currency Converter. CBC News app so I know what’s going on in the world and at home. TripCase to keep track of my itineraries.
Most embarrassing travel moment: The time I was taking a work trip to Canada’s Yukon territory and told someone “I so hope we get to go north of 60!” when I meant north of the Arctic Circle (since the border of the territory is the 60th parallel north). Oops. (And yes, we did get to go above the Arctic Circle—very cool).
I’m embarrassed I haven’t been to: I’m not embarrassed, but there’s plenty of places I still need to get to. People find it weird that I’ve never been to Vegas.
Worst travel moment: Worst that became the best: On my first day in Southeast Asia my cab was in a police chase through the crowded streets of Phnom Penh. It was alarming at the time, but I wrote about it for Canada’s national newspaper and realized I could become a travel writer. However, nothing that newspaper-worthy has happened to me since.
What’s your dream destination? I’d love to see a super pod of dolphins, which is theoretically possible near my homebase of Vancouver. My dream would be to swim with wild dolphins, so that’s most likely to happen with bottlenose dolphins in the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean or off New Zealand.
Favorite travel charity: World Nomads’ Footprints.
Best travel tip: Be open to anything and everything. And smile.