Want to know how to travel in style, just like the pros? We check in with frequent fliers on useful resources, favorite destinations and what they never leave home without.
Occupation: Writer, Editor, Journalist, Teacher, Private Tutor, Designer/Owner of Wear2learn T-shirts
Hometown: Old Lyme, Connecticut
Residence: Los Angeles (5 years) and Washington, DC for almost 10 years before with a 6 month hiatus in England
Short Bio: Melissa Curtin is the LA City editor and writer for Miss A, a national e-magazine covering the intersection of charity and style, which offers informative content on a woman’s well-rounded lifestyle and interests. She is a contributing travel writer for Johnny Jet. Last year she launched a children’s educational T-shirt line called Wear2learn tomotivate and inspire children to continue to love the magic of words. T-shirts spark vocabulary development with words like Intrepid, Dogged, Epic, and Innovator on the front with fun definitions on the back. Melissa Curtin has been a passionate elementary educator for over fourteen years.
After teaching in the Maryland public school system for almost a decade, she left the conservative East Coast environment in Washington, DC for West Coast living. Eager for adventure, inner growth, and a new environment, she packed her car and took to the open road on her own landing in her new home – Hollywood, California. As a Connecticut Yankee at heart, she has now lived in Los Angeles for five years. Melissa graduated from Gettysburg College with a double major in psychology and art history. Soon after, she earned a Master’s Degree in education. Melissa traveled around the world on Semester at Sea in college, and earned a Fulbright Scholarship which enabled her to teach in England. A lust for travel and learning has fueled her globe trotting ever since. Some of her favorite destinations are Thailand, Fiji, Morocco, Vietnam, Belgium, Italy, Sicily, Prague, Egypt, Australia, Greece, and Paris.
How often do you fly: This past year, about once a month.
How many countries have you been to: Never counted, but will now…maybe 28+
How many continents have you been to: Every continent except Antarctica
Favorite American city: Los Angeles and San Diego
Favorite international city: Love Taormina (Sicily), Paris, Bruges, Prague, Rome.
Least favorite country: China, sadly I had a rough time there in 1994, but perhaps my opinion would change if I went back.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Masada in Israel, Medina of Marrakesh in Morocco
Favorite airline: Virgin
Aisle or window: Aisle because I can get claustrophobic, but sometimes I prefer the window if I know it’s a long flight and I will sleep the whole way.
Favorite U.S. airport: Burbank, CA or Long Beach, CA – so small and in and out quick and in Burbank, who doesn’t like to grab their bag outside?
Favorite international airport: Not sure
Favorite hotel: Zeavola on Phi Phi Islands, Thailand or Astra in Santorini, Greece.
Favorite cruise line: Not a big fan of cruises, unless it is a private yacht or intimate boat although Semester at Sea was similar to one big college cruise line and that experience was remarkable.
Favorite island(s): Phi Phi Islands and Koh Lanta in Thailand, Turks and Caicos, Sicily, Santorini, Fijian Islands
Favorite fancy restaurant: Not sure if it is considered super fancy, but love Angelini Osteria in LA, anywhere in CT that serves lobster on the water
Favorite hole in the wall: Pretty much any grinder or pizza shop in CT, Farmer’s Market at Grove in LA – Love Bob’s Doughnuts, crepe place, Mexican joint, and place with most scrumptious roast beef and corned beef sandwiches.
Favorite fruit: Strawberries, blueberries
Favorite food: Lobster
Least favorite food: Chinese food (dog), Vietnam – snake masked in a cabbage leave in my soup
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Water water water, an occasional Coke…have had the worst experiences with wine or champagne in the air – can’t even handle a glass! Once on the ground – ice tea, lemonade… red wine with dinner
Favorite travel movie(s): Cinema Paradiso, The Beach,180 Degrees South, Into the Wild
Favorite travel books: Rick Steves – obsessed with all his books and tips when I was living in England and traveling all over Europe around 2004, faithfully read all of Bill Bryson’s books too.
Right now I am reading: Cosmo magazine, my friend Michelle Katz’s book on healthcare called Healthcare for Less, and I’m on the third chapter of a biography about an author (David Foster Wallace) I was intrigued by who killed himself. The book is called Every Love Story is a Ghost Story. I also need to finish The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and The Good Girl’s Guide to Negotiating by Leslie Whitaker and Elizabeth Austin. My life has been consumed lately by reading children’s writing and my own constant LA lifestyle writing and travel writing. DYING to read Andrew McCarthy’s new book The Longest Way Home after not only being obsessed with him as an actor in all of my favorite movies, but reading his latest articles in National Geographic Traveler.
Favorite Travel Magazine: National Geographic Traveler
Favorite Travel Show: I barely have time for TV. I used to love watching years ago E! TV’s Travel Series “Wild On..” with Brook Burke jet setting in fun spots around the world. I also enjoy Lisa Ling on National Geographic and on Oprah as she travels to countries and explores many untold stories and world issues.
Favorite travel website(s) - Besides JohnnyJet.com (of course) I enjoy checking out other travel websites of other writers/bloggers/journalists I have traveled with, like www.offtrackplanet.com, www.manonthelam.com,www.stayadventurous.com, and www.matt-gibson.org. Recently, came across www.magazinec.com - for CA excursions.
Five things you bring on a plane: Magazines, snacks/candy, wrap/hoody/jacket, eye drops (if I remember), laptop
What do you always seem to forget: Earphones for movies
Favorite travel iPhone apps: Words with Friends – favorite way to pass the time, Hotel Tonight, Viber (to call loved ones when you are in another country for free) and WhatsApp (so I can text friends for free in another country)
Most embarrassing/worst travel moment: Getting sick and running out of the ocean in my bikini while snorkeling in Maui to try to find the nearest hotel bathroom! Taking about 5 flights in a row back to US from Thailand (Krabi to Bangkok to Shanghai to Tokyo to miss the only flight to LA, then to have to go to Chicago, then back to LA = day(s) from hell!)
What’s your dream destination: Going back to Sicily, Italy, and Greek Islands to explore more. A scary safari in Africa…always wanted to explore Croatia as well as Sweden. Maldives…Belize, the list goes on…
Best travel tip: 1. Go! You won’t be disappointed, ever. Life is an adventure. Travel is the best thing you can ever do in your life. It allows you to ‘see’ with a whole new set of eyes and perhaps appreciate your home even more. It is the best way to truly grow and learn about yourself and other cultures. I feel most alive when I travel, the most free, away from the confounds of society. In another life, I would be an explorer. 2. Spend time traveling alone. Often you can experience and see things differently that you might not otherwise notice.