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: Nina Ragusa
Occupation: Travel Writer and Wanderer
Hometown: Tampa, Florida
Residence: Uhm…Planet earth. It’s hard to say. Now? Thailand. In a few months I’ll be potentially traveling to four other countries, by December, I’ll be living in Australia, after that, who knows? I have no permanent residence.
College: Florida State University (GO NOLES!)
College major: International Affairs and Criminal Justice
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Short bio: Nina is an intrepid gypsy who has an insatiable need to wander. She only had two dreams as a child and it was to die a happy and well-traveled person. Since she left the USA in May 2011, she’s lived in Thailand and South Africa, and has traveled most of Southeast Asia. She enjoys living abroad so she can get to know the surroundings, culture and people better. Her nightmare is having an ordinary life. She thrives on changing scenery, insane adventures, and the spontaneity that living life on the road entails.
She’s on a quest to see the world, really see it. She’s in no rush to collect stamps but rather to travel like a turtle, because really, she has all the time in the world. She works online or at her current destination to keep her travel account replenished, and is a self-proclaimed “simple bitch,” so it doesn’t take much to make her happy. As long as her sights are on a new sunset, she swimming with the fish, or perhaps sipping on a cocktail at some random hippy bar at a new beach, that’s all she needs.
Her blog, Where in the World is Nina?, is not only an account of where she’s been or where’s she going, but how she lives this life of wanderlust, and tips and advice for her readers. Follow her so you can one day meet up with her for a drink somewhere in this crazy wonderful world we live in.
How often do you fly? 0-3 times a month, it all depends what adventure is at hand.
How many countries have you been to? 26 with two more being added before the end of the year.
How many continents have you been to? 4, and #5 (Australia) will be happening before the year is done.
Earliest travel memory: Visiting family in New York. I was born in NY, but my immediate family and I moved to FL when I was young. I remember visiting often and thinking I was so cool for hanging out with my older cousins and taking trips to the City.
Favorite American city: NYC.
Favorite international city: I really don’t have a favorite…
Least favorite country: When I’ve been everywhere, I’ll let you know!
I have no desire to go to: …uhm, Wisconsin? Wait, no. I love cheese. I might like it there. I don’t know. I’m down to go everywhere, because you never know until you go!
Friendliest people in the world: Dominica. They don’t see foreigners very often, especially in some of the areas I went. I’ll never forget the smile on this older man’s face as he smiled, waved and said, “Hello Whites!” as my friend and I drove in traffic. It was as if he saw a celebrity. They were always eager to help in anyway possible.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: Hmmm… Not sure. Hopefully I don’t find out anytime soon. I’ve been alright so far.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Awe man, I have so many on my list, I hate picking favorites before seeing everything. Can I get back to you when I’m 85-years-old and I’ve seen more? OK, OK…I guess I’d have to say my top two favorites are…the beautifully funky work of Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona and the stunning rice terrace in the Cordillera region of North Luzon in the Philippines.
Favorite airline: Etihad.
Favorite aircraft type: A safe one.
Aisle or window: Window all the way.
Favorite airport lounge: Ha! Never had the pleasure!
Favorite U.S. airport: JFK in NY because it’s the cheapest for me to fly to when coming from Asia. It gives me an excuse to spend a few days there with friends, and I have a plethora of the best “westernized amenities” that I’ve been missing so much such as real pizza and toilets with toilet paper.
Favorite international airport: I guess BKK (Bangkok) or KUL (Kuala Lumpur) only because I’m there so often.
Favorite hotel: Don’t have one. Just need a place that’s clean, I’m a simple gal.
Favorite cruise line: I have been on one cruise and it was the Big Red Boat like 15 years ago when on family vacation. I want to see my destination for more than 15-24 hours, so I’m not big on cruise boat travel.
Favorite travel credit card: None, I get myself in trouble with credit cards…They are all evil!
Favorite island: Oh, this is a hard one! I’m still in love with Dominica and I’m dying to go back. The Krabi region in Thailand as some sick island scenery too.
Favorite beach: The beaches in Krabi, like Tonsai, a few scattered around Indonesia, I loved Beline, Mozambique…I’m a beach girl, but I haven’t found “the one” yet. I like to keep my options open, I’m not devoting myself to one beach yet. I’m a beach whore, I admit it.
Favorite fancy restaurant: I’m more like the person who salivates at the fancy menus and attempts it at home while using that money I would have spent at said fancy restaurant to plan my next trip.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: The market food in Southeast Asia.
Favorite bar: One with live music or a good DJ and decent drinks.
Favorite fruit: Mangos and bananas.
Favorite food: Pizza, bread, and cheese…soooo pizza.
Least favorite food: Beef, pork, lamb, turkey…I’m a vegetarian.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): I’m a wino when there’s wine available—anytime and anywhere.
Favorite travel movie(s): Not much of a movie watcher, don’t have a favorite.
Favorite travel show(s): Anthony Bourdain No Reservations or anything on National Geographic.
Favorite travel book(s): Anything to keep me entertained on those long flights and train rides…
Right now I am reading: “The Alchemist.” Cliche, yeah, I know! And I’m always reading some crime thriller from John Grisham or the like.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: Adventurous Kate, The Blonde Abroad, Nomadic Matt.
5 things you bring on a plane: Laptop, phone, hoodie, book, xanax.
What do you always seem to forget? The correct documents when applying for my visas. I know the drill! Why did I forget my passport photos?! Why did I not bring a pen?! Uh!
What do you like least about travel? The traveling part. Just get me there. Those 15-hour trains “make for a good story” but that story gets old and I’ve read the story 100 times now. I also HATE flying. Get me to my destination!
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? WINE!
Favorite travel app(s): Google Maps. I don’t really use travel apps as much as maybe I should…? I just end up chatting someone up for info.
Most embarrassing travel moment: I had just moved to Thailand and despite reading that feet are unholy and shouldn’t be used to point at things or be put near someone, I didn’t quite get the extent of it. I was teaching in Thailand and I crossed my legs (I was in a skirt) while on stage for a Teacher’s Day celebration. Crossing your legs in Thailand, especially while on stage in front of the whole school, is rude. As in, I essentially just told everyone F you, because my foot points out when crossed! The entire room gasped in horror. I was MORTIFIED, but I still didn’t get why until I was told when I got off stage.
Lucky everyone laughed it off because, “You foreigner, you no know, it’s OK!”
I’m embarrassed but I haven’t been to: The west coast of the USA!!! But I’m flying to Portland in November, so I’m taking care of that.
Worst travel moment: The second time I got food poising. I was in Ubud, Bali and it was the worst pain I’ve ever been in. After seeing the doctor and getting an IV and meds that lasted two weeks, it still took my stomach a month to get back to normal.
One more: I received an awful surprise while flying from Bangkok to Johannesburg. My layover was in Addis Abba and they made me get a yellow fever shot! I had a connecting flight, and I was only in Ethiopia for less than two hours. Long story short: I had to get the useless vaccine right then and there in the Bangkok airport. Never fly Ethiopian Airlines.
What’s your dream destination? Everywhere I haven’t been yet. But if I really had to choose, the islands of French Polynesia. I’m intrigued. I don’t know enough about them yet and they are so tiny, it’s hard to see them on a map.
Favorite travel charity: I won’t play favorites for this one. Yay for good people.
Best travel tip: Travel simply so you can travel longer!