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: Maryann Simson
Occupation: Aviation Journalist
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
Residence: Hamburg, Germany
College: Humber College, Toronto
College major: Print & Broadcast Journalism
Short bio: I’ve been immersed in the #PaxEx and aviation world as a writer/editor since 2008. After working as Managing Editor of a Toronto-based industry publication for 5 years, I packed up and moved to Hamburg, Germany, where I report frequently for The Runway Girl Network, Aircraft Interiors International and Airline Passenger Experience. I love analyzing the complex and fast-paced aviation industry from the viewpoint of both major players and everyday passengers.
How often do you fly? 6-8 times a year.
How many countries have you been to? 13
How many continents have you been to? 3 or 4? Depends on whether you lump the Caribbean in with North or South America.
Earliest travel memory: My dad is a truck driver. I remember frequently missing kindergarten to ride with him in his black Freightliner between Toronto and Montreal. I loved singing to the other drivers over the CB radio and could name any piece of equipment on the rig.
Favorite American city: Las Vegas!
Favorite international city: Toronto. Not only is it home, but it is also the most intensely multicultural place. I just adore her.
Least favorite country: Switzerland. It’s way too expensive! Who has that kind of money?
Country with the meanest immigration officers: USA.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Sadly, I haven’t been to many. Angkor has always held an appeal for me.
Favorite airline(s): WestJet is up there. The staff are fantastic.
Favorite aircraft type: Clean ones.
Aisle or window: Aisle.
Best flight attendant you’ve ever had: The guy on Jet Airways who took pity on me being stuck next to a screaming child. He made sure my glass was never less than half full ;) Thanks Bro.
Favorite airport lounge: I don’t get to go in those.
Favorite U.S. airport: San Fran.
Favorite international airport: Hamburg. It doesn’t have anything fancy or unique to speak of, but it works efficiently. Flying in/out of it is effortless.
Favorite hotel: Hotel Arts, Barcelona.
Favorite cruise line: I’ve never been on one.
Favorite travel credit card: Someone else’s!
Favorite island: Jamaica. I could listen to reggae and eat jerk chicken all day long.
Favorite beach: Any of the lovely pink ones in Bermuda.
Favorite fancy restaurant: I recently dined at Milos (Greek) in the Cosmopolitan hotel in Vegas. It was unbelievable.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Seilerhütte (Sailor Hat) in the St. Pauli district here in Hamburg is pretty cool. The local beer, Astra, is 1€ per bottle and most shots are about €0.80. Hamburg has a massive port so it’s always full of real-life drunken sailors. Just don’t use the washroom if you’re squeamish in any way. Seriously…don’t.
Favorite bar: If I name one the others will be jealous.
Favorite fruit: Watermelon :)
Favorite food: Peanut butter.
Least favorite food: Olives and pickles.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Nothing beats a bold and oaky California Chardonnay.
Favorite travel movie(s): French Kiss.
Favorite travel show(s): Top Gear. I know it’s kind of a car show, but they go to a lot of places too.
Favorite travel book(s): Can we come back to this one?
Right now I am reading: “Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: Wandering Aramean, National Geographic, VICE.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! The VICE Guide to Travel, Runway Girl Network, Jaunted.
5 things you bring on a plane: About 10 varieties of chapstick/gloss, gum, eye-shade, earplugs and authentic Grannie-knitted wool socks.
What do you always seem to forget? I leave my U-shaped travel pillow in a hotel room every few months. I’ve bought dozens of them.
What do you like least about travel? Unpacking my suitcase after the trip!
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Perfume for sure, you can never have too much.
Favorite travel app(s): Can’t say I use any.
Most embarrassing travel moment: Just a few weeks ago my carry-on capsized at the bottom of an escalator at the airport and I ended up doing some crazy running-man style footwork to avoid tripping over it. So many eyes. So awkward.
Worst travel moment: I left my purse in a taxi which had just dropped me off at the airport in Barcelona. My wallet, passport, phone, EVERYTHING was in there. Luckily the driver brought it back to the airport and gave it to the police, so it could have been much worse…but I never want to feel that feeling ever again. I could have puked.
Favorite travel charity: I love it any time an airline collects loose foreign currency from passengers on international flights. It’s such an easy way to help those in need and lighten your purse or wallet at the same time. I always do it.
Best travel tip: Spoil yourself a bit, you’ve earned it! Splurge on a posh hotel for one night of your trip, eat a fancy dinner, ride a white horse on the beach, rent a fast car and rip it around or buy something ridiculous. You will never forget that special indulgence. It’s a wonderful gift to give yourself.