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: Kevin Wilkerson
Occupation: Journalist, travel blogger and Public Relations Professional
Hometown: Knoxville, TN
Residence: Hermosa Beach, CA
College: The University of Alabama (16 National Championships!)
College major: Journalism
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Google+: Kevin Wilkerson
Short bio: I’m a Southerner who lives in Southern California. I’m from an area with mountains—the Great Smokies—but live at the beach. I first got the travel bug as a child staring up at the tall buildings as we drove through downtown Atlanta on the way from Tennessee to Florida. That’s also the root of my love of beaches.
I started PubClub.com when I was traveling extensively as the Advance PR Representative for the CART IndyCar racing series. I would be in different cities two weeks before the event to drum up media coverage and one night in Toronto met some locals who showed me the “routine”; that is, being in one bar at a certain time, then moving onto another, and which ones were most busy on different nights of the week. That’s when I realized it’s not just important to know WHERE to be but WHEN to be there, as well. That’s what I strive to achieve with PubClub.com.
I still do PR, by the way, and have had some fun clients: the US Olympic Swim Trials, the USC-UCLA all-sports trophy, the Transpacific Yacht Race, the Catalina Water Ski Race, and ProCon Leisure, a promotion company out of Australia that puts on the Miss Indy contests at the car races.
I followed my father’s footsteps into journalism and the University of Alabama and worked at two daily newspapers covering sports, the Dothan (AL) Eagle and the Savannah (GA) News-Press. Being from the South, I love college football and follow the Crimson Tide each and every fall Saturday. I’m also a Parrothead—I’ve been to more than 60 Jimmy Buffett concerts in six states. That counts as travel, right!?
How often do you fly? About a dozen times a year, tho it used to be several dozen in my big PR travel days.
How many countries have you been to? 10, and looking to add more at any time!
How many continents have you been to? Three and counting: North America, Europe and Australia. Might be adding Asia in Sept.
Earliest travel memory: Driving 12 hours from Knoxville, TN, to Clearwater, FL, for our annual family vacation. We stayed at the Islander Motel on the back bay, easily recognizable for its distinctive orange roof. We timed the trip to meet friends each year that we met at the Islander.
Favorite American city: San Diego (with New Orleans knocking on the door!).
Favorite international city: Toronto. I also really enjoy Basel, Switzerland.
Least favorite country: None that I’ve traveled to, thankfully.
I have no desire to go to: Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia. Nothing against those places but there are just so many more desirable destinations for me.
Friendliest people in the world: Canadians.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: Sometimes I feel like it’s right here in the USA. I was also expecting them to be more friendly in Australia.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Is Wrigley Field a World Heritage Site? It should be in my opinion!
Favorite airline: Hawaiian.
Favorite aircraft type: 747 (classic), Airbus (modern).
Aisle or window: Aisle for short flights, window for long flights.
Favorite airport lounge: Atlanta.
Favorite U.S. airport: SFO.
Favorite international airport: Zurich.
Favorite hotel: Royal Hawaiian, Waikiki Beach. Besides the location, its beachside bar makes the best Mai Tais in the islands.
Favorite cruise line: I’ve never been on a cruise!
Favorite travel credit card: American AAdvantage.
Favorite island: Mykonos.
Favorite beach: Paradise Beach, Mykonos, Greece.
Favorite National Park: The Great Smoky Mountains, especially Cade’s Cove.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Tarpy’s Roadhouse, Monterey, CA.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Shellback Tavern, Manhattan Beach, CA.
Favorite bar: Skandinavian Bar, Mykonos, Greece.
Favorite fruit: Oranges.
Favorite food: A good, juicy cheeseburger. With a big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer, of course.
Least favorite food: Haggis.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): A cold beer! It also depends on the destination. If I’m headed to the Caribbean, then I’ll have rum. If it’s Switzerland or Carmel/Monterey, I prefer wine.
Favorite travel movie(s): The James Bond movies, the Pink Panther series, Summer Lovers, the Vacation movies, If It’s Tuesday This Must Be Belgium.
Favorite travel show(s): Rick Steves’ Europe, Man v. Food and Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives (yes, I consider these last two travel shows).
Favorite travel book(s): Ones from Bill Bryson, especially “Neither Here Nor There.”
Right now I am reading: “A Salty Piece Of Land” by Jimmy Buffett.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: JohnnyJet.com (of course!), LA Times Travel, whiskeytangoglobetrot.com.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! And besides PubClub.com!? CultureWithTravel.com, BeyondWords.Life.
5 things you bring on a plane: Computer, phone, homemade sandwich, newspaper/magazines, and a positive attitude!
What do you always seem to forget? Shirts without the PubClub.com logo. Seriously. I learned from my PR time in motorsports to always be branded!
What do you like least about travel? Encountering surly, angry and negative people. This applies to airline and other travel employees as well as to other travelers.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Good Caribbean rum!
Favorite travel app(s): Airline check-in apps, Instagram & Twitter.
Most embarrassing travel moment: When I realized the sushi restaurant in Hawaii’s North Shore, where we were laughing it up with locals, didn’t take American Express. The other card was at the hotel, I had no cash and there was no ATM.. All those smiles suddenly turned to glares! I managed to reach Visa and eventually resolved it and let out a big “whew.”
I’m embarrassed I haven’t been to: Yosemite; it’s only a few hours away from me!
Worst travel moment: Being crowded, jammed, shoved and elbowed with screaming people at a ticket window for half an hour on a hot day in Athens, Greece, to buy ferry tickets to Mykonos. While my more imposing friends just stood and watched! The only thing that kept me from walking away was the determination to get to the destination.
What’s your dream destination? Pretty much anywhere I’ve never been, but I would like to see more of Australia and a lot more of the Greek Islands. I would also love to go to Berlin.
Favorite travel charity: Suggest one!
Best travel tip: Spend time with locals. I always try to find a happening Happy Hour bar to get the ball rolling. How do I find them? Boots on the ground! I also seem to have an instinct for finding fun people and places.