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: Karen Elowitt
Occupation: Editor, AFKTravel.com
Hometown: Los Angeles
Residence: Fort Lauderdale
College: Tufts University
College major: International Affairs
Facebook: Karen Elowitt
Short bio: I worked for several years as a newspaper reporter and copy editor before becoming a travel writer. Then I worked for renowned travel expert Peter Greenberg for a while, spent some time as a freelancer, and now edit a website about African travel. Over the last three decades I’ve visited 135 cities in 32 countries and lived in the US, the UK, South Africa, and the Caribbean. Highlights of my travels include hiking on a glacier in France, swimming with tiger rays in Mexico, getting lost on the Metro in Moscow, and roaming the Negev desert in Israel. I enjoy photography, scuba diving and eating sushi.
How often do you fly? About 6-12 times a year.
How many countries have you been to? About 32.
How many continents have you been to? 6
Earliest travel memory: In the mid-1970s, when I was about six-years-old, watching my older sister fly out of Burbank airport on PSA airlines and wishing I could be on that plane with her!
Favorite American city: My hometown Los Angeles, of course!
Favorite international city: Cape Town.
Least favorite country: Qatar.
I have no desire to go to: Yemen.
Friendliest people in the world: Canada.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: Poland.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Victoria Falls.
Favorite airline: Emirates.
Favorite aircraft type: Any type that has adequate legroom.
Aisle or window: Aisle, because of my long legs.
Favorite airport lounge: I don’t really hang out in airport lounges.
Favorite U.S. airport: Miami.
Favorite international airport: Auckland.
Favorite hotel: Hotel Murano, Tacoma, a glass-art hotel/museum.
Favorite cruise line: Uniworld.
Favorite travel credit card: Don’t have one.
Favorite island: Vieques, Puerto Rico.
Favorite beach: Trunk Bay, St. John, USVI.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Cube Tasting Kitchen, Johannesburg.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Billy’s Grassy Park, a roadside food stand in Middle Quarters, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. The shrimp comes from a freshwater pond just behind the kitchen.
Favorite bar: The Soggy Dollar, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands.
Favorite fruit: Banana.
Favorite food: Sushi.
Least favorite food: Kimchi.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): On the ground: painkiller, a tasty Caribbean concoction involving rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, sweet coconut cream, shaved ice, and a sprinkle of nutmeg. In the air: I try not to drink because it dehydrates me!
Favorite travel movie(s): Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Withnail & I (does that count as a travel movie?).
Favorite travel show(s): Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.
Favorite travel book(s): Any non-fiction by Paul Theroux, Bill Bryson, or Pico Iyer. Also, I love “Marco Polo Didn’t Go There” and “Vagabonding” by Rolf Potts.
Right now I am reading: “Crazy River: Exploration and Folly in East Africa” by Richard Grant.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: National Geographic Traveler, Travelzoo Top 20 newsletter and 2Summers.net (shout out to my friend Heather Mason!).
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! AfricaGeographic.com, Oyster.com and AFKTravel.com, of course!
5 things you bring on a plane: Water, neck pillow, backup battery for iPhone, Kindle, earplugs.
What do you always seem to forget? Headphones.
What do you like least about travel? Not enough legroom on airplanes!
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Absinthe.
Favorite travel app(s): Airbnb and Uber.
Most embarrassing travel moment: I missed the EuroStar from London to Paris a few years back because I got my days mixed up! It was a non-refundable ticket but I managed to sweet-talk a customer service agent into giving me a refund anyway, by playing the “dumb American first-time traveler” (I told them I misjudged the amount of time it would take to get from the airport to the train station). Not my proudest moment, but it worked and they gave me back my $100! And for the record, I do not think Americans are dumb.
I’m embarrassed I haven’t been to: Thailand.
Worst travel moment: When I got terribly sick in the middle of a three-week trip to South Africa about 10 years ago, and had to sit in bed for an entire week. My traveling companions kept assuring me that it was malaria or dengue fever or worse (thanks, guys), but it turned out to be “just” the flu.
What’s your dream destination? I know this sounds random, but I’m dying to go to Okinawa.
Favorite travel charity: SaveTheRhino.org.
Best travel tip: 1) Buy a local SIM card if you plan to be somewhere longer than a week or two, and 2) put down your damn camera and just observe with your own eyes once in a while!
Interesting to read about Karen and see her opinions! Thanks, Johnny J.