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: Kenneth Zak (aka Ken)
Occupation: Author, Poet, Publisher, Attorney, Designer, Sea Glass Collector
Hometown: Parma, Ohio, USA
Residence: San Diego, CA
College: The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!)
College major: Business (Marketing) with a special interest in History of Art and Law
Facebook: Kenneth Zak Author
Short bio: Born in Parma, Ohio, author and poet Kenneth Zak is an aquatic nomad of Bohemian-Polish ancestry. As a lad, he dove into Lake Erie in search of a silver coin. Decades later, he surfaced off the island of Crete with a tale filled with mystical sea turtles, sunken treasure and a young woman’s search for a reclusive poet, a muse and the myth of eternal love, as told in his novel, “The Poet’s Secret.”
How often do you fly? 4-6 times a month.
How many countries have you been to? 25+ and counting.
How many continents have you been to? 4
Earliest travel memory: Maid of the Mist boat tour at Niagara Falls, Canada. That’s a lot of gushing water when you are a six-year-old in boots and a yellow rain slicker near the bottom of the falls.
Favorite American city: I have three: San Diego, New Orleans and New York.
Favorite international city: Prague. I took my son to trace our roots (the first of our family to visit), and located my great-grandfather’s home village of Krsice, his house and grave. I was able to take a rock from his former front yard and place it into my own (now late) father’s palm on his 80th birthday.
Least favorite country: None, really.
I have no desire to go to: Afghanistan (for the time being), but I pray for peace and safe passage some day.
Friendliest people in the world: Balinese.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: Germany—not necessarily mean, just stern.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Angkor Wat.
Favorite airline: Southwest for domestic U.S. flights and Cathay Pacific for international travel.
Favorite aircraft type: Jet. I’m not a helicopter person.
Aisle or window: Aisle. I need that extra legroom and shoulder space.
Favorite airport lounge: Alitalia lounge in Rome. Missed my connector and spent 6 hours sleeping on a cozy couch in First Class lounge, then a full shower with shower kit. Made it to Grosseto by sundown feeling fresh as an Italiano gelato.
Favorite U.S. airport: This is a tough one, but I actually love the airport in San Jose, CA (SJC)—it is so clean and well-designed. I also dig Portland (PDX). Funny, I associate both with visiting my son. Go figure.
Favorite international airport: Bangkok (BKK).
Favorite hotel: Ban Makok in Koh Kut, Thailand.
Favorite cruise line: Anything from Athens to Crete, but usually the overnight Blue Star.
Favorite travel credit card: Southwest Rapid Rewards.
Favorite island: Maiton (once we had the entire private island to ourselves for a week via a Thai friend during an ownership shift—incredible. Maiton is a sister island to Phi Phi, where The Beach was filmed.)
Favorite beach: Liminaki (near Hersonissos, Crete). The tiny-pebbled beach is my second home in Greece.
Favorite fancy restaurant: L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Maria’s café at Liminaki beach in Crete. Unbeatable staff, Greek salad and view.
Favorite bar: Aero Club in San Diego (a bar’s bar), site of the first official date (bourbon tasting) with the love of my life, Kyona.
Favorite fruit: Blueberries.
Favorite food: Pizza.
Least favorite food: Chicken pot-pie (I never cared for it, nor believe it serves any culinary purpose). Chicken cordon bleu, you’re a close second, so don’t get cocky.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Wine, red, preferably a Pinot or Zin.
Favorite travel movie(s): The Big Blue (original, please not the Director’s Cut), The Darjeeling Limited, The Way, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Midnight in Paris, The Endless Summer.
Favorite travel show(s): Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown & The Layover.
Favorite travel book(s): “The Poet’s Secret” (by yours truly, coming October 2015), “Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, “1Q84” by Haruki Murakami, “The Zahir” by Paulo Coelho, “The English Patient” by Michael Ondaatje.
Right now I am reading: “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman” by Haruki Murakami. Next up: “Adultery” by Paulo Coelho.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: The Surfer’s Journal, Outside, AFAR.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! NotCot’s Notventures and Rocketmiles.
5 things you bring on a plane: Headphones, iPod, magazines (usually Outside, Dwell and Vanity Fair), books and kindness.
What do you always seem to forget? Not much, I’ve note-padded my packing list, I can be out the door in 30 minutes or less for just about anywhere.
What do you like least about travel? Surfboard dings via baggage handlers.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Chocolate.
Favorite travel app(s): Southwest.com, Surfline, GoogleMaps.
Most embarrassing travel moment: Red wine self spill onto my only white linen shirt on a Santorini trip (in village of Oia) after assuring the waiter I could “carry my own” down the stone steps to our requested “better table” overlooking the caldera. Flip flops + 500-year-old steps + wine + land-challenged mammal = shirtless poet with bruised tailbone limping back to hotel later that night. Opa!
I’m embarrassed but I haven’t been to: Boston (but I hear it’s phenomenal).
Worst travel moment: Costa Rican forced pullover on bridge with machine gun-toting policia (attempted shakedown) while running late for flight to U.S. post surf-getaway. We made our flight by about 10 minutes (enough time for 1 round of Imperials to-go), but they confiscated our license plates (unscrewed them right off the car).
What’s your dream destination? Right now, Maldives surf trip (booked for September 2015).
Favorite travel charity: SurfAid.
Best travel tip: Always pack a smile.