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: Peter Parkorr
Occupation: Writer & Photographer
Hometown: Manchester, UK
Residence: Wherever I hang my hammock!
YouTube: Peter Parkorr
Bio: I quit my job a few years ago so I could travel and work around the world. I started TravelUnmasked.com to share the best stories and show people how it’s possible. I’m interested in the ways people all over spend their lives, and I always have my camera to capture great photo and video of my experiences.
How often do you fly? A couple of times a month on average, sometimes a lot more and sometimes not at all, spending a few months exploring a country slowly.
How many countries have you been to? 46, without counting places in the United Kingdom as 4 separate countries (which they definitely are!).
How many continents have you been to? I’ve been to 4 of the 7 continents and will be heading to Australia & New Zealand next year to make that 5 continents. I haven’t been to South America or Antarctica yet.
Favorite American city: I really liked Berkeley & San Francisco when I spent a few months in the Bay Area.
Favorite international city: So many to choose from! I loved Kyoto in Japan and Budapest in Hungary is brilliant.
Least favorite country: I’ve never really found a country I didn’t like. Sometimes you can be in the wrong mood for a certain type of place though. I have hated India at times, but more often I love it, and it’s one of my favorite places despite its challenges.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: Israel, although we all know why.
Favorite World Heritage Site: The Bay of Kotor in Montenegro is just stunning, especially climbing the crumbling steps to the ruined fort above, and seeing for miles around.
Favorite airline: I flew with Virgin to Tokyo which was very good, but in Europe I’m a fan of EasyJet or Jet2 and I take a lot of short haul flights with them both.
Favorite aircraft type: I’m all about what happens when I land rather than how comfy it was to get there. I travelled around India happily on crowded buses and trains!
Aisle or window: Window every time, to see things from above.
Favorite airport lounge: I’ve only been in one so I have to say the Air Mauritius lounge in Mauritius! The benefits of lounges escaped my attention until recently because I assumed they’d be more expensive.
Favorite U.S. airport: Dulles International in Washington DC. I’ve never been, I just liked the movie Die Hard 2.
Favorite international airport: Dubai is pretty impressive, with shopping malls and foot massages and all sorts, but I really loved the tiny domestic airport in Koh Samui, Thailand. Once you’d gone through security there was no terminal building—just an open-sided seating area next to the tarmac with a straw roof!
Favorite island: Hvar, Croatia. A popular party destination in summer surrounded with crystal clear water and great views of the islands from the old lookout towers.
Favorite beach: I really enjoyed the beach at Peniche in Portugal, but it’s better for learning to surf than for sunbathing.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Ristorante Vespasia, Norcia, Umbria. The two brothers running this restaurant travelled the world for a year, visiting all the best restaurants and hotels in the world before they decided what their restaurant should be like. Their family has been in the business for over 150 years, and the menu highlights the local specialties of black truffle (Melanosporum Vittadini) and lentils from Cassteluccio di Norcia (‘the best lentils in the world’).
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: The entire city of Catania, Sicily! Even Italians revere Sicily for it’s food. It can be so cheap for everything from pizza and seafood, to a horsemeat steak sandwich barbecued in the street for only €3.
Favorite fruit: Lychees and figs, served slightly chilled in hot weather. Delicious.
Favorite food: Japanese Ramen noodle dishes.
Least favorite food: The ubiquitous bread/ham/cheese breakfast in Germany and Italy.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): A spicy Bloody Mary in the air, and a pint of British Bitter or Ale on the ground.
Favorite travel movie(s): There is an amazing film called Life In A Day which was produced by Ridley Scott and is free to watch on Youtube. It’s made entirely from user’s uploads across the planet on one single day, and the end result is really beautiful. It would make anyone want to see the world.
Favorite travel show(s): I loved a show called Walking The Amazon with ex-SAS man Ed Stafford. It’s not your typical way to travel but he spent 2 years navigating the entire length of the Amazon river on foot, which is an impressive feat.
Favorite travel book(s): The favorite is definitely Vagabonding by Rolf Potts, and I also love Louis de Bernieres’ historical fiction novels set in Latin America. After reading any of those, you feel like you’ve been there. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga is a dark, riveting story set in India, and George Orwell’s Burmese Days is really interesting. When I want something fantastical and surreal, I pick up one of Haruki Murakami’s novels, which always transport me back to Japan.
Right now I am reading: A Blink of the Screen by Terry Pratchett. A writer I grew up reading and one of my heroes.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: I love what Beth and Randy from BeersandBeans.com do, and I also listed some of my other favorite stories of 2013 in a post called the ‘Peter’s World’ Travel Story Awards.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! I like useful websites that help you decide where to travel, like the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forums, and Seat61.com is great for finding out about trains all over the world.
5 things you bring on a plane: Toothbrush & mini toothpaste, earphones, pen & paper, a Kindle, and my own snacks. I always take my shoes off to get comfy too!
What do you always seem to forget? Sunblock and insect repellent.
What do you like least about travel? Sometimes it can be a real challenge to find something nice and healthy to eat, I really miss being able to cook for myself then.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? A nice bottle of Whisky will ensure they remain my loved ones.
Favorite travel app(s): I find Foursquare useful for leaving tips and reading other people’s recommendations. Snapseed is a must for editing my photos before posting them to Instagram or other places, and WhatsApp for keeping in touch with everyone when there’s Wifi. There’s a really useful app called OhHeyWorld which will inform your friends and family by email (and text in the US) when you check-in to a new place. I also have a great quiz app called GeoQuiz by Brain Cafe. It has questions on countries, people, foods, nature and other things that travellers are into.
Most embarrassing travel moment: I borrowed a GoPro from Erin of No Checked Bags to jump into a river we were rafting down in Italy, and she kept saying to me ‘Do not lose my GoPro, Peter!’—long story short, I lost lots of video she had taken on a once-in-a-lifetime scuba diving trip. Gulp.
Worst travel moment: I twisted my ankle at the end of a week long trek in India. A few days later I arrived into a town without any accommodation booked only to find that a local event had meant almost everywhere was fully booked. As I was hobbling around with my heavy backpack on looking for a place to stay, I re-twisted my ankle and it was incredibly frustrating. I ended up being a bit rude to the next hotel receptionist and demanded he call somewhere for me so I knew they had space in advance. I explained why it was important and thanked him when I left but I had to force him to help me, he was too busy to care.
What’s your dream destination? Somewhere with incredible natural features, like having lots of mountains and fjords. New Zealand or Patagonia is the dream, but I also want to visit out of the way places like Bend in Oregon and Bovec in Slovenia because they are famous for their outdoor activities.
Favorite travel charity: I support the Disasters Emergency Committee from the UK because they raise funds for wherever in the world it’s needed most, and change their fundraising focus regularly.
Best travel tip: Never take anything you aren’t prepared to lose. It’s been my top travel tip for years and it continues to ring true time and again, more often for other people though as I don’t travel with any unneeded valuables