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.
Occupation: Travel Agency Owner, Travel Social Media Entrepreneur
Hometown: San Francisco, California
Residence: Depends on my mood. San Francisco, Los Angeles or Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I’m currently in L.A. working my way south of the border.
Short Bio: Nick Kontis started out as a world traveler at an early age- traveling back and forth between California and Greece every summer. But it was a backpacking trip around the world at age 24 that proved to be a life-changing experience. After traveling by car, train, plane, bike and, boat around the world, it would be this trip of a lifetime that would lead to a life as a travel entrepreneur and world traveler. Nick has been on both radio and television, featured on Arthur Frommer’s television show, and referred by Lonely Planet writers. He is frequently mentioned as the “father of around the world airfares.” Arthur Frommer once said, “If Jules Verne were alive today he would use Nick to go around the world in 80 days.” Nick and his various travel companies have sent over 10,000 people taking their dream trip through airfare discounts of as much as 50% off the airlines published fares. Now Nick promotes travel through his World Travel List and ‘Trip Rambler’ by World Travel List. Having traveled to over 80 countries Nick hopes to inspire others to travel the world. He’s visited over 80 countries and counting. Follow Nick’s “passion for travel” on the World Travel List
How often do you fly: Let’s see… I spend July, December and January in Mexico. In November, I’m in London for the World Travel Market and usually overstay my welcome at a friend’s place. In March, I’m in New York for two weeks, and I usually do two or three other trips.
How many countries have you been to: Just got back from Belize which makes 83 countries. I’m creeping towards the coveted century mark.
How many continents have you been to: All except Antarctica.
Favorite American city: Although people say San Francisco is one of the greatest cities on the planet, for me clearly the answer is New York. New York sucks me in, and I never want to leave.
Favorite international city: Now that’s tough. Sydney and Rio remind me in some ways of San Francisco. But, although being from a small city, I’m a big city guy at heart, so I’ll say London.
Least favorite country: Not sure. I find beauty everywhere. Bahrain did not particularly overwhelm me.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Toss up, flip a coin… Machu Picchu or Angkor Wat.
Favorite airline: Emirates, Singapore Air, and Cathay Pacific.
Favorite aircraft type: A380
Aisle or window: Aisle. I like to be able to get up. I’m also a bad sleeper. I rarely sleep through an entire flight.
Favorite U.S. airport: I really don’t have one. My native SFO is not too bad for customs and getting in and out. Much quicker than say, LAX.
Favorite international airport: Changi, Singapore, Schiphol, and Amsterdam, are my favorites. Kudos to Hong Kong, Bangkok and Munich, which all also make my list.
Favorite hotel: Athenaeum in Mayfair, London, Samode Palace in Jaipur, India, National in South Beach, Miami, Marriott in Miraflores District, Lima, Oriental in Bangkok, and The Mondrian on the Sunset strip in Los Angeles. I have too many favorites. Can’t pick one.
Favorite island: I was born in Santorini, Greece. So, I’m biased. Santorini, Los Roques in Venezuela, Phuket, Bali, and I’ll throw you a curve… Lamu off of Kenya. Lakshadweep, in the Indian Ocean, part of India. Phi Phi Island, Ios, Ibiza, Catalina Island. Oh so many.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Remember I live in San Francisco, so I’m high up on the “foodie, food chain.”Red’s Yountville, Napa Valley. La Tour D’argent in Paris, Fiorella in New York for Italian, Lincoln Center, never realized that lasagna could be so refined. Harris’ Steakhouse in San Francisco is my high-end comfort food. Jaiya, high-end for Thai food in New York. High Tea at the Ritz in London is also a favorite of mine.
Favorite hole in the wall: Golden Flower (Vietnamese) in Chinatown, San Francisco. Tacos Panchos, Zona Romantica, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Any greasy cheese slice in New York.
Favorite fruit: Papaya and mango, so abundant in Mexico, and oh so healthy.
Favorite food: Greek Lamb Shank, Mexican Tacos Al Pastor, Thai Green Chicken Curry, Unagi Roll, Any good, in your face, Southern BBQ, just to name a few. Oh, my mother- in-law’s refried beans and Mexican breakfast.
Least favorite food: Any restaurant that claims to be Chinese and American cuisine. That usually means that both are awful. Still not a fan of liver.
Drink of choice (In the air and on the ground): Macallen Single Malt Whisky
Favorite travel movie(s): Raiders of the Lost Arc, Casablanca.
Favorite travel show(s): Amazing Race
Favorite travel book(s): I like ‘Motoring With Mohammed’ by Eric Hansen and ’Malaria Dreams’ by Stuart Stevens, which is about the perils of an overland Africa adventure. Places like Yemen and Central and West Africa fascinate me.
Right now I am reading: National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler. Life is a bit busy to read a novel.
Five things you bring on a plane: Travel magazines, good time to catch up. Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, I’m addicted to chocolate and peanut butter. Peanuts, cashews or almonds are excellent on board snacks. I bring a change of sweat pants for on plane comfort and always carry a long sleeve pull over.
What do you always seem to forget: Headsets. I have so many of these darn things from every airline, and now the airlines seem to charge you for everything. But I can’t remember to bring them along.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport duty-free store? If at Heathrow or other fancy airport, Caviar from a gourmet shop. Any good single malt scotch.
Favorite travel iPhone app(s): Instagram makes phone pics a little clearer.
Most embarrassing/worst travel moment: Arrived at the airport once, with my expired passport, had to rush back home and barely made the flight. And once in after too much fun in the sun in Rio (I was single then), I showed up at the airport a day early, only to be told that my flight was tomorrow.
What’s your dream destination: Where I have been? I would say Greece and Mexico. Now, where I haven’t been is to Easter Island, Madagascar, Perth, Botswana, Cuba, Yeman, to name a few. Oh, and I haven’t been to New Orleans. Yes, hard to believe, I know.
Favorite travel website(s) – besides JohnnyJet.com, of course!: Tripitini, I really like. Gogobot seems to be onto something. Richardbangs.com gives me inspiration to hit the road. National Geographic is always interesting.
Best travel tip: Carry on as little as possible. Weight is a real drag. Whatever you don’t bring along, you can usually buy at your destination. If you have an extra carry on, the overhead bins get full quickly nowadays. Be one of the first to board your flight.