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: Paco Chierici
Occupation: Pilot, Author, Filmmaker
Hometown: Rochester N.Y.
Residence: San Francisco Bay Area
College: Boston University
College major: International Relations
Facebook: Paco Chierici – Author
YouTube: Paco Chierici
Short bio: I grew up in Italy, then the East coast. Learned to fly in the Navy, been a writer all my life, fell in love. Flew fighters from carriers, got married. Left active duty to have a family, but still flew fighters in the reserves. Became a commercial pilot, we had a couple lovely kids, I created and produced an award-winning documentary. Recently realized my lifelong dream of publishing a novel, won an award. Writing the second of many.
How many countries have you been to? Close to 100, for work and pleasure.
How many continents have you been to? 6
Earliest travel memory: I remember leaving on a 747 for Italy when I was five. I don’t remember the airline, but I do remember the magic anticipation of travel.
Favorite American city: New York.
Favorite international city: Rome!
Least favorite country: No comment, I’ll probably have to go back.
I have no desire to go to: Antarctica, though my daughter is dead set on dragging me there. So cold!
Friendliest people in the world: Perth, Australia. So unabashedly friendly I thought it was a put on at first.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: The US, for sure. I’m actually a little embarrassed that that is the reception people get when they come to our country. We are such a beacon of light and hope for the rest of the world, I cringe when I see them get their first impression.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Valetta. One of the more incredible cities I’ve been to. The history and architecture are insane.
Favorite airline: Delta Air Lines.
Favorite aircraft type: F-14 Tomcat. Only one passenger, but it’s a great ride!
Aisle or window: Aisle.
Favorite airport lounge: Delta Sky Club, JFK—Terminal 4. It’s big and comfortable, cool outside patio, and it means I’m going somewhere interesting, or on my way home.
Favorite U.S. airport: SFO. I know it’s got its problems, but it means I’m home!
Favorite international airport: Fiumicino in Rome. Again, I know it can be a mess, but it’s the price I pay for arriving in my favorite city.
Favorite hotel: We just got back from Sweden and there were two remarkable hotels we experienced. The first was Ett hem in Stockholm, a boutique hotel with only nine rooms designed to perfection. The second was far north near Luleå, the Treehotel, which is the most amazing and unique collection of luxury tree houses.
Favorite cruise line: None yet. I spent enough time on a ship in the Navy. I know, I know; it’s different. I’m almost ready.
Favorite travel credit card: Marriott Bonvoy.
Favorite island: Tortola, BVI. Not because of the island itself, but because that’s where we rent the boats we cruise around the BVIs in. Love the BVIs!
Favorite beach: Mahaulepu Kaua’i.
Favorite National Park: Yosemite.
Favorite fancy restaurant: La Pergola, in Rome. The food and service are incredible, and the view of Rome as the sun sets is one of the best in the world.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Kappa Sushi in Nagoya. It is one of those classic conveyor best sushi restaurants where you pay by the dish. I love it.
Favorite airport restaurant: The breakfast at Low Country in Atlanta terminal 1 is so good. Cheesy grits, cheesy eggs, bacon, and a biscuit. Always hits the spot!
Favorite bar: I love The Campbell above Grand Central Station in Manhattan. Great history and origin story. As far as dive bars, my favorite is Arnold’s Tioki Bar in Honolulu. It’s a true locals joint hidden in plain sight on the strip in Waikiki.
Favorite fruit: Banana.
Favorite food: I love breakfast. I’ll call the whole meal a “food.”
Least favorite food: Radicchio or beets, it’s a toss up.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Manhattan.
Favorite travel movie(s): Speed and Angels, I’m biased!.
Favorite travel show(s): It’s still Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. Best travel show ever. Makes me so sad.
Favorite travel book(s): I have an insatiable appetite for thrillers. A good book will keep you engaged even while your knees are getting squished to pieces. Daniel Silva, Michael Connelly, Le Carre, Elmore Leonard.
Right now I am reading: “The Kill Artist” by Daniel Silva. I love the series and I’m starting over to motivate me as I write my next novel.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: Travel + Leisure, Outside, and Conde Nast Traveler. I like aspirational fare in my magazines.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! Well, JohnnyJet, for sure! Then I cross reference between Mr & Mrs Smith, Oliver’s Travels, Travel + Leisure, Trip Advisor, Yelp, & Google, depending on the type of trip.
5 things you bring on a plane:
- iPad filled with books, movies, and TV shows.
- Noise-cancelling headset.
- Comfortable sweatshirt.
- Paper magazines and book in case the iPad dies. Worst nightmare is having nothing to read.
- Passport, cash, credit cards and just enough essentials to make it a few days if the luggage is lost.
What do you always seem to forget? I’m a professional traveler, so I never forget anything. Except once when I forget to pack underwear for a 12-day Asia trip.
What do you like least about travel? Being away from my family and my bed.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? A bottle of single-malt Scotch I haven’t tried yet.
Favorite travel app(s): FlightStats. I’m always checking for what the very next flight is and if there are any delays. This app is indispensable. Not sure how I survived before apps.
Most embarrassing travel moment: Did I mention I forgot to pack underwear for a 12-day Asia trip!
I’m embarrassed I haven’t been to: Ski in Las Leñas Argentina. It’s been on my list for 20 years. I’ve got to make it happen.
Worst travel moment: Eating a bad oyster in Hong Kong and wishing I was dead. No amount of alcohol could kill that.
What’s your dream destination? Those amazing overwater hotels in the Maldives. I’ve been captivated by the images for a long time. It appears exotic and removed from the rush of life.
Favorite travel charity: My favorite charity is HOPE Haiti. They have an amazing mission in community development for the people of Borgne. 100% of the funds go to the charity, unlike so many others that skim administrative costs. They focus on improving the lives of the people through introducing healthcare, dental care, literacy and education, clean water and much more. It is truly a worthy cause with an amazing track record.
Best travel tip: Don’t be afraid, just go. The world is filled with amazing sights, people and food.