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: Kimi Sugiyama
Occupation: Travel blogger and photographer
Hometown: Detroit, MI
College: Central Michigan University
Facebook: Sushiyama Travels
YouTube: Kimi Sugiyama
Short bio: Hi, I’m Kimi. I’m a passionately curious world traveler, foodie and mountain child who uses curiosity and appetite as a compass. Over on my blog, I share my love for travel, food, hiking, and mountains via storytelling, photos and video. Been traveling for about four years now and don’t have plans for stopping anytime soon. Come say hello, and let’s travel the world and create amazing adventures together!
How often do you fly? Once every 10-14 days.
How many countries have you been to? 25 and counting.
How many continents have you been to? 5 (all except Africa and Antarctica).
Earliest travel memory: Going to see different theater productions at the Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario, Canada with my mom when I was in middle and high school.
Favorite American city: NYC and Boulder, CO.
Favorite international city: Tokyo.
Least favorite country: Russia. It wasn’t my least favorite but rather the most challenging to navigate as a solo, female traveler.
I have no desire to go to: Mars. Would love to step foot on the moon someday though.
Friendliest people in the world: Costa Rica.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: USA and Canada, but I wouldn’t say mean, they just have strict and unwelcoming demeanors.
Favorite airline: Japan Airlines, ANA and Qantas.
Aisle or window: Aisle for long-haul flights and window for short, domestic flights.
Favorite airport lounge: Admirals Club at Narita International Airport.
Favorite U.S. airport: Denver (DEN) and Dallas (DFW).
Favorite international airport: Seoul Incheon Airport or Tokyo’s Narita Airport. Both have endless shopping, restaurants, and entertainment perfect for long layovers.
Favorite hotel: Courtyard Marriott Bogota Airport Hotel in Colombia. Great food, clean and modern décor, and fast internet.
Favorite travel credit card: American Airlines Executive Platinum and Delta Reserve credit cards for the lounge access and status. Chase Sapphire Preferred for ability to transfer points to multiple different airline accounts.
Favorite island: Okinawa, Japan and Jeju Island, South Korea.
Favorite National Park: Banff National Park in Canada.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Kang’s Korean Restaurant in Ann Arbor, MI. Get the spicy pork for lunch.
Favorite fruit: Mango.
Favorite food: Korean BBQ and bubble tea.
Least favorite food: Cashews because I’m allergic.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Dandelion tea (hot) or Black tea (cold brewed).
Favorite travel movie(s): Up in the Air.
Favorite travel show(s): Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown.
Favorite travel book(s): “Eating Vietnam” by Graham Holliday, “The Street of a Thousand Blossoms” by Gail Tsukiyama, and “The Turk Who Loved Apples” by Matt Gross.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: Roads & Kingdoms, Legal Nomads and Ottsworld.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! Buzzfeed Travel, Exposure.co and Kayak.com for booking flights
5 things you bring on a plane: My own snacks, books loaded up on my Kindle, water, laptop loaded up with movies, and passport (duh!).
What do you like least about travel? As a solo traveler, it can be exhausting to make all the decisions on my own. Sometimes it would be nice to have an assistant to handle all the travel logistics for me.
Favorite travel app(s): TripIt to keep all my travel itineraries in order, AwardWallet to keep track of all my frequent flyer miles, and LoungeBuddy to find the best airline lounges for the airports I’ll be flying out of.
Most embarrassing travel moment: I got myself locked out of my Airbnb apartment rental in Kyoto, Japan, aka the center of Japan’s traditional history, where fashion standards are high and upkeep of general appearance in public is nearly mandatory. One of the house rules was that garbage needed to be taken out once a week to the dumpster on the first floor. When that day came, I thought it would be a good idea to go down in my pajamas and wet hair because it would just be a quick trip. Unbeknownst to me, I had forgotten the key, which had the magnet strip to let me back in the main entrance to the building. My host wouldn’t be home for another four hours, I didn’t have my phone on me, and at the time, I didn’t speak a lick of Japanese. So I rang the buzzer of a random apartment on the 1st floor and with a quivering voice, explained that I had locked myself out and needed to get back in. A mild faux pas. Finally, I saw the door to the apartment swing open, and a few curious heads peeked around the corner to get a look. The young man who answered the intercom smiled and graciously opened the door for me. Even though he told me not to worry about it, I was humiliated and sprinted back up to my 4th floor apartment, locking the door behind me.
Worst travel moment: Sitting in a train station in rural Russia, waiting to board an overnight train to St. Petersburg and not knowing whether I was at the right station or getting on the right train. Nobody spoke English or could interpret my gestures, I was feeling burnt out and hungry, and I didn’t want to end up even more in the middle of nowhere and not know how to get myself home. I called my friend in Moscow who was my saving grace, but even so, it was the loneliest I’ve ever felt.
What’s your dream destination? A cruise down to Antarctica.
Favorite travel charity: Charity: water.
Best travel tip: Pack a deck of cards so that you can play games with new people you meet.