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 McCann
Occupation: Travel writer
Hometown: I was born in Palo Alto, back before it was Silicon Valley.
Residence: Seville, Spain. I moved here “for a year” in 2004 and just can’t tear myself away.
College: University of California, Berkeley
College major: Communications
Facebook: Enjoy Living Abroad
Pinterest: Karen McCann
Google+: Karen McCann
Short bio: A fourth-generation Californian, I worked as a journalist in Cleveland for 20 years then moved to Seville and became a travel writer. In the process I learned two great things. 1) Living in a foreign country is an opportunity to reinvent yourself that rarely exists outside of the witness protection program. 2) Americans moving to Europe are not actually required to buy a crumbling farmhouse and spend years restoring it with the help of semi-literate but wise and amusing locals. Today, I enjoy an urban Mediterranean lifestyle, travel often, write a weekly travel blog, and have published four travel books. My latest is “Adventures of a Railway Nomad: How Our Journeys Guide Us Home,” the story of 6000 miles of spontaneous train travel, mostly through Eastern Europe.
How often do you fly? Twice a year I fly from Seville to London to SF and back again. I love living in Spain, but America is something you have to stay in practice for, and I don’t want to lose my touch.
How many countries have you been to? 50
How many continents have you been to? 4
Favorite American city: San Francisco. The zany mix of cultures is endlessly entertaining, to say nothing of the world-class food.
Favorite international city: Seville. The vibrancy of the street life is addicting. Everyone seems to live outdoors, strolling from one congenial tapas bar to another.
Friendliest people in the world: Thailand.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: The huge, snarly guy who demanded my passport at the Bulgarian border crossing was pretty intimidating. But then I never did see his identification, so he may simply have been from organized crime.
Favorite airline: Virgin Atlantic.
Favorite airport lounge: The No. 1 Traveller Lounge and Spa at Heathrow Terminal 3; it’s a sanctuary.
Favorite U.S. airport: SFO, for the people watching.
Favorite international airport: The old airport in Belize City, practically a shack, where locals used to sit on the roof just for the fun of watching arriving foreigners.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Klub Knjizevnika, Belgrade, Serbia; the lamb is spectacular.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Taberna Peregil (La Goleta) near the Seville cathedral, for their signature orange wine.
Favorite bar: The underground speakeasy known variously as the Federal Association of Globetrotters and the World Travelers’ Club, in Belgrade, Serbia.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): I recently learned that a study (conducted here in Spain, of course) suggests that beer is actually better than water for rehydrating you after exercising in hot weather. Now I join the Sevillanos in using cerveza to recuperate after each short, bar-to-bar stroll.
Favorite travel movie(s): Night Train to Lisbon. But that’s probably because next week I’m taking the night train to Lisbon.
Favorite travel book(s): “Adventures of a Railway Nomad: How Our Journeys Guide Us Home.”
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: Wandering Earl, Vagabonding, Scribbler in Seville.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course!: Spain Scoop; it has the best information for travelers coming to this country.
5 things you bring on a plane: Scarf, Kindle, snacks, my roll-aboard, and my husband (not necessarily in that order).
What do you always seem to forget? My red silk sleep mask. The ones given out on the plane never seem to fit properly, so I prefer to bring my own—a fact I always recall just as the wheels lift off the tarmac. Lately I’ve been thinking of switching to the Zombie Sleep Mask, which features the green skin and bloodshot eyes of the undead; I hear ensures absolutely privacy during a flight.
What do you like least about travel? Long airports layovers.
Most embarrassing travel moment: Chasing a Paris taxi down a crowded street to retrieve my hat…only to discover it was on my head.
Worst travel moment: When the Amazon guide told us not to leave the tent for the next 12 hours because outside there were bushmasters, huge, fast venomous snakes attracted to light and heat. It was a long, long night.
Best travel tip: Slow down, do less, enjoy more.