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: Mark Silva
Occupation: Graphic Designer, Travel Blogger
Hometown: Plainville, Connecticut
Residence: Delray Beach, Florida
College: University of Central Florida, Parsons School of Design, University of California Los Angeles, Broward Community College, Florida Atlantic University
College major: Art History
Short bio: I grew up in Connecticut and South Florida. International competitive Martial Arts champion at a young age. Guitar player for a hardcore band in my teenage years. College, graphic design, travel, fledgling writer. Here I am.
How often do you fly? 20+ times a year.
How many countries have you been to? Seventeen (only two in Europe), but I only started traveling internationally a few years ago!
How many continents have you been to? Four.
Earliest travel memory: It’s not a memory of actual travel. But when I was very young my dad used to give me his used plane tickets. I would put them in an old briefcase and sit out by our mailbox waiting to be picked up for adventures.
Favorite American city: New York City. I also really like Austin.
Favorite international city: Antigua Guatemala. It was the first place I traveled to solo and I’ve been 3 times since, it will always be special and feel like a strange second home.
Least favorite country: I’ve really loved everywhere I’ve been so far.
I have no desire to go to: I want to go everywhere!
Friendliest people in the world: Cubans in Cuba are endlessly friendly and so incredibly smart. You can have a conversation with a random guy on the streets of Havana and leave feeling like you really know nothing about the world.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: I haven’t really had any bad experiences with immigration officers. I’ve found if you are prepared and polite you will have no problems. I did get a good talking to in Miami after coming home from Colombia though.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Machu Picchu. No matter how high your expectations are you will be floored. It’s the most incredible place I’ve ever been.
Favorite airline: Delta. It’s the first airline I ever flew on, it’s obviously not the best, but it feels safe.
Favorite aircraft type: I feel like I’m always on A320s or 737s. I would love to fly on an A380 or a Dreamliner. Oh, and someone please bring back the Concorde!
Aisle or window: Aisle always. I like being able to stand up without bothering anyone.
Favorite airport lounge: I’ve been in Delta lounges and they’re great, but I fly coach and I’m fine with hanging in the terminal.
Favorite U.S. airport: Palm Beach International for how empty and quiet it is.
Favorite international airport: They’re really all a blur so I don’t have a favorite just yet.
Favorite hotel: I rarely repeat hotels, but I went to the American Trade Hotel in Panama City last year and it was pretty amazing. Hotel des Grands Hommes in Paris is also so perfectly French. I can’t wait to go back.
Favorite cruise line: I’ve only been on Carnival and that was probably 20 years ago.
Favorite travel credit card: I use a Platinum Delta Amex. It’s fine. I’m in the market for a new one.
Favorite island: Cuba. I went a few years ago on a people-to-people trip and it was incredible. Growing up in South Florida…Cuba was this irresistible, forbidden place, just 90 miles away. I knew I had to go one day.
Favorite beach: Delray Beach, my home. The best beach is the closest beach.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Hartwood in Tulum was the best restaurant experience of my life. It’s not exactly fancy, but the food is amazing. It’s on the jungle side of the road. Mosquitos swarm around your head while your toes sink into the sand under the table. Bob Marley blares over the speakers and the chef comes over to show you the fish he caught for you that morning. Incredible stuff.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: It’s not really a hole in the wall, but I love L’Avant Comptoir in Paris. It’s basically the waiting room for a very nice restaurant, but it’s super small and standing room only. I had some great wine and food there with my girlfriend during a rainstorm, pretty good memory. Any scary looking taco stand is usually a good bet too.
Favorite bar: I don’t really go to bars anymore, but I went to some really fun ones in Ho Chi Minh City. It’s an incredible town with a crazy backpacker scene.
Favorite fruit: Pineapple.
Favorite food: Anything Indian that’s super aromatic and hotter than hell. Oh, and tacos.
Least favorite food: Coconut rice.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Gin & club soda in the air. Red wine on the ground.
Favorite travel movie(s): Casablanca, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lost In Translation, The Darjeeling Limited, Up in the Air, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, To Have and Have Not, Away We Go, Argo.
Favorite travel show(s): An Idiot Abroad, Parts Unknown, Dangerous Grounds.
Favorite travel book(s): “Tropic of Cancer” by Henry Miller. Not exactly a travel book, but a book written by an American exiled in Paris. It’s a perfect, romantic book and it made me want to waste away my life in Paris. “The Sun Also Rises” by Hemingway comes a close second. I also love reading history books about the countries I’m going to before I go. It really makes the experience of being there feel more rounded out.
Right now I am reading: “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth & Faith in the New China” by Evan Osnos.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: Travel & Leisure, Afar, [wherever] Magazine.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! TripAdvisor.
5 things you bring on a plane: Bose Noise Canceling Headphones, iPad, Compression Socks, Water, & Lip Balm.
What do you always seem to forget? My toothbrush.
What do you like least about travel? I hate when the plane takes off. But as soon as that seatbelt light clicks off, bliss.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Nothing. Send me a postcard!
Favorite travel app(s): Expedia & TripAdvisor.
Most embarrassing travel moment: I honestly don’t really have one! I have been to a lot of Spanish speaking countries though, and my grasp of the language hasn’t improved much since middle school. So that’s something I would like to work on.
I’m embarrassed but I haven’t been to: London.
Worst travel moment: My worst travel moment is also one of my best. My friend and I missed our train from Aguas Calientes to Cuzco a few years ago. We ended up having to take a different train to Ollantaytambo and a taxi from there in the middle of the night. We had no idea where we were, didn’t speak the language, had to argue with the driver about not picking up hitchhikers. When we got back to Cuzco we drank tequila and had the most fun night of the trip. That’s the experience we still talk about to this day.
What’s your dream destination? Iran is number 1 on my list. I’d also love to spend time in Patagonia trekking all over South America.
Favorite travel charity: I don’t have a particular one, but I donated to a few different charities in Nepal after the devastating earthquake this year. Whoever is on the ground helping people that need help is my favorite charity.
Best travel tip: Stop thinking about it and just go.