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: Co-Founder of LaLaScoop, Writer, Educator, Designer of Wear2learn T-shirts
Hometown: Old Lyme, Connecticut
Residence: West Hollywood, California
Short bio: Melissa is a contributing travel writer for Johnny Jet. Melissa’s globetrotting and love of learning was fueled after traveling around the world on Semester at Sea in college. She has been a passionate elementary educator for over seventeen years. Melissa taught in England in 2004 thanks to a Fulbright scholarship. 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. Melissa is the Co-Founder and writer of LaLaScoop (Never Leave LA), an online hub for discovering the beauty and vibrancy of life in Los Angeles through a plethora of reviews on LA’s hottest trends, places, products, people, and happenings from the coastline to the Hollywood Hills. After living in LA for seven years, she is officially a proud, happy, warm Angeleno.
How often do you fly? About once a month.
How many countries have you been to? Never counted.
How many continents have you been to? Every continent except Antarctica.
Favorite American city: Los Angeles.
Favorite international city: 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.
Favorite U.S. airport: Burbank, CA or Long Beach, CA—so small and in and out quick, and who does’’t like to grab their bag outside?
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): Formentara Island, Phi Phi Islands and Koh Lanta in Thailand, Turks and Caicos, Sicily, Santorini, Fijian Islands.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Angelini Osteria, Petit Trois, and Republique 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 leaf 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: “The Longest Way Home” by Andrew McCarthy, “The Promise of a Pencil” by Adam Braun, travel guide books I find at Traveler’s Bookcase on West 3rd in LA. Years ago, it was Rick Steves—used to buy all his books when I was living in England and traveling all over Europe around 2004, and faithfully read all of Bill Bryson’s books too.
Right now I am reading: Instagram ha! The tales and journey of Jedidah Jenkins who is now writing a book about biking from Oregon to Patagonia, “L.A. Son” by Roy Choi.
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 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 when I do research on a particular place. I like VoyageVixens.com.
5 things you bring on a plane: iPad, laptop, magazines, snacks/candy, wrap/hoody/jacket, contact lens solution.
What do you always seem to forget: Always 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 almost 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 the US from Thailand (Krabi to Bangkok to Shanghai to Tokyo to miss the only flight to LA, then having to go to Chicago, finally flying 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. 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.