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: Joshua Benjamin Johnson
Occupation: Digital Media Producer, Writer, Online Community Manager, PR manager, Gentleman Adventurer
Hometown: I’m from Washington State. I grew up on the Olympic Peninsula in woods of Port Orchard and spent most of my adult life in Seattle.
Residence: I currently live in the beautiful Los Angeles neighborhood Los Feliz
College: University of Washington
College major: Creative Writing
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Short bio: I grew up swinging from the cedar branches of the Pacific Northwest and I still think that Seattle is one of the greatest cities in the US. I began my life as a traveler on a 3-month backpacking adventure across Italy and the Greek islands. I had dropped out of the writing and theater program at the University of WA and lost myself to the world. I started telling travel stories and haven’t looked back. I’ve been married for a decade and have traveled regularly around the world for the last 13 years.
I’ve now worked with 50+ travel and lifestyle brands to create and publish online content. I’ve worked with the amazing online travel magazine Matador Network for over 7 years and was the Dean of Education for MatadorU for nearly two years. Three years ago we moved to LA, and here I am.
How often do you fly? Every 4-6 weeks. It’s actually pretty sporadic. I could go months without travel then I could have several trips back to back…
How many countries have you been to? 30?
How many continents have you been to? 4
Earliest travel memory: Driving into the forests of the Olympic National Park to camp on the Hamma Hamma river with my folks. I was too young to speak but I remember things like looking out the window as we drove past the Hood Canal and I remember sitting by the campfire and being amazed at the way the fire illuminated the night in a small bubble of orange light. I grew up in a working class family and our summer trips were almost always camping trips. It wasn’t glamorous and it wasn’t necessarily far geographically but my parents taking me in the Olympics formed the kernel of wonder and wanderlust and love of adventure and nature that is so important to who I am as a traveler and a person.
Favorite American city: Seattle—it’s green, clean, small enough to know people and drive across town. The food and arts scene is incredible and it is surrounded by mountains.
Favorite international city: Oh man, that’s kinda hard. I’d have to say Venice. No other place feels more magical to me. I have this fantasy about living in Venice for a year and wandering around the labyrinthine alleys and streets, daydreaming.
Least favorite country: Every country I’ve been to I’ve enjoyed on so many different levels. The only country I can really criticize with any amount of authenticity is the one I live in—the US. I deeply love the land—the place for what it is—but there are so many things about our political and social systems that I think can be done so much better. America is NOT my least favorite country, but it’s the only one I have a leg to stand on to speak about its shortcomings.
I have no desire to go to: Russia.
Friendliest people in the world: Aruba or Costa Rica. But honestly, I’ve met nice folks and assholes everywhere. But pound for pound I’ve more smiles and friendly locals in Aruba and Costa Rica. Runners up would be Laos and Maui.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: The US. I’ve gone through a few less-than-pleasant borders but I’m consistently disappointed with my welcome back to the States. Maybe I just have to deal with them the most so all the other border officers I wanted to punch have faded from memory…
Favorite World Heritage Site: Angkor Wat. The scale, beauty and magic of Angkor cannot be done justice in typed words. I was blown away at each turn of the road as my wife and I explored the ruined Khmer city on bicycles.
Favorite airline: Hawaiian. I’ve flown Hawaiian a bunch and am always impressed at the warmth and the level of service.
Favorite aircraft type: Float plane, because it likely means that I’m in Alaska and that is never bad. Plus the sensation of taking off from a body of water is awesome.
Aisle or window: My bum knee says aisle (I’m 6 foot 2 inches and like to stretch my legs) but the 9-year-old kid living in my head loves the window. I usually sit aisle though.
Favorite airport lounge: Any lounge will do.
Favorite U.S. airport: Burbank—not because it’s glamorous or state-of-the-art of has nice art or killer dining options. I love flying into Burbank because it is chiiiiiiill…and it means I’ve avoided flying in/out of LAX. It’s also close to my apt and is easy to pick up and drop off. I’ll take practical over posh any day. I also like Denver and Maui.
Favorite international airport: Gothenburg. It’s swank.
Favorite hotel: Travaasa Hana—no Wi-Fi and sunsets that will make you cry.
Favorite cruise line: Never cruised. Maybe someday…
Favorite travel credit card: Well I guess I will have to go with the only one I have :)—the American Airlines AAdvantage card.
Favorite island: Sicily. Really amazing memories of Catania and Taormina during my first trip abroad.
Favorite beach: I love all beaches from the black sand volcanic beauties to rock-strewn rough coastal stretches. But my favorite is the WA beach we would go to growing up—Ocean Shores. It is a vast stretch of coastal Washington great for razor clam digging and kite flying. The water is cold, the wind blows and it is perfect.
Favorite fancy restaurant: I have no idea. Pass. I’ve eaten at a lot of nice places, I swear, they just kinda blur together. I’m more likely to remember my fav dive bar or taco truck…
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Thai Tom—a teeny tiny Thai restaurant in Seattle’s University district. The food is cooked at a feverish pace right in front of your face. The fire is flying and the bathroom is little more than a broom closet but the line snakes around the block for a reason—this place is legit.
Favorite bar: The Alibi Room—Seattle. But any dive with a sufficiently ratty bathroom and gestalt of stale beer will do.
Favorite fruit: Banana and pineapple.
Favorite food: Breakfast: Biscuits and gravy with giant sausage chunks and super savory gravy topped with two eggs over easy. Lunch: A fat Rueben sandwich or chicken pad Thai. App: Steamed clams or ceviche. Dinner: Baked salmon with garlic bread and broccoli.
Least favorite food: Bad sea food.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): In the air: ginger ale and water. Grounded: a big, stinky IPA.
Favorite travel movie(s): Baraka—it’s not really a travel movie, but hot damn it puts me in a traveling mood!
Favorite travel show(s): I like Parts Unknown and An Idiot Abroad.
Favorite travel book(s): “Seven Years in Tibet,” “Shantaram,” “The Art of Travel,” “Dharma Bums.” But the book I always bring on big trip is my “The Portable Steinbeck.”
Right now I am reading: “The Shining”—Stephen King. “The Secret Teachings of All Ages”—Manly Palmer Hall. “On Writing”—Stephen King. “The Holographic Universe”—Michael Talbot.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: …hmmmm to be honest I don’t follow any. I get most of travel content as it filters down through FB links and on StumbleUpon.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! MatadorNetwork.com—I’ve published over 500 articles/blogs with Matador and I love the progression of the site over the years. The content is extremely diverse and I consistently get a dose of travelstoke from Matador.
5 things you bring on a plane: 1) Something to write with—I get ideas on planes. 2) Headphones and some music/podcasts. 3) Something to read. 4) Closed toe shoes—increases your chance of surviving a crash by at least 10% or so I read. 5) Business cards—you never know who you will meet.
What do you always seem to forget? My seat number.
What do you like least about travel? Customs.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Food/treat from the local country. No booze. Please god no cologne.
Favorite travel app(s): Not necessarily all ‘travel’ apps here but these are the apps I use most while traveling: Airbnb (bookin that bed), Skype (keepin in touch), Buddify (meditation app), Tastemade (video creation app).
Most embarrassing travel moment: I crapped in an out-of-order bus toilet in Thailand and the other passengers got really pissed, I mean angry. They eventually voted/shouted me off the bus.
I’m embarrassed but I haven’t been to: Everybody seems to have been to the UK and France, but not me…
Worst travel moment: Being hit by a bus while driving my wife and mother on a scooter in Vietnam. Buy me a drink and I will tell you the whole harrowing tale…
What’s your dream destination? Space. It doesn’t have to be anything extreme—I just want to spend some time above the atmosphere in the dark of the galaxy.
Favorite travel charity: I don’t know…I guess I need to pay more attention to stuff like this… ;)
Best travel tip: Quit the job and go for months. Go for longer than you feel comfortable with. Spend little money and travel slow. Make few concrete plans. Be humble. Be curious. Go with the flow.