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: Head chef at Travelfish.org
Hometown: Sydney, Australia
Residence: Bali, Indonesia
Short Bio: Stuart McDonald is the cofounder of the travel-planning website Travelfish.org. Heavily distracted by Southeast Asia since 1993, today Stuart is a reformed backpacker based in Bali, Indonesia, where he lives with his wife and two children.
How often do you fly: A couple of times a month
How many countries have you been to: Two less than Samantha (my co-founder and wife). No, we are not competitive in this regard.
How many continents have you been to: Two more than Samantha.
Favorite American city: Midway through a US road trip I really liked a small town in Kansas where a restaurant manager came out and thanked me for driving all the way from Australia to her Pizza Hut.
Favorite international city: Hanoi, Essaouira and Trieste. I can have three right?
Least favorite country: They’ve all been great.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Wat Phu in southern Laos.
Favorite airline: THAI Airways.
Favorite aircraft type: Anything that doesn’t have propellers.
Aisle or window: Window.
Favorite airport lounge: Dad took me into a Singapore Airlines one once. It was lovely.
Favorite U.S. airport: I got strip-searched and had my orifices explored arriving at Boston from Canada once. As a result it’s the only US airport I can really remember.
Favorite international airport: Changi.
Favorite hotel: All time favourite, probably Hin Wong Bungalows on Ko Tao, Thailand. It was back in 1997 and Sahaat (the owner) offered to sell us a cliff block with ocean views for about $1,000. We were like “wow that is so much money”.
Favorite cruise line: Never been on one.
Favorite island: Ko Phra Thong in Southwest Thailand is lovely.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Naam, Bangkok, Thailand.
Favorite hole in the wall: Palate Palette, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Favorite fruit: Lychee, preferably with gin and a dash of vermouth.
Favorite food: Anything primarily of pork or cheese. Not both together though.
Least favorite food: Anything with lentils.
Drink of choice (In the air and on the ground) Harvey Wallbanger.
Favorite travel movie(s): Apocalypse Now.
Favorite travel book(s): Art of Travel by Alain De Botton taught me to appreciate colour, Ryszard Kapuscinski the art of telling a good story and Paul Theroux just for the Great Railway Bazaar.
Right now I am reading: I’ve actually just ordered Facing the Torturer by Francois Bizot. It’s the sequel to The Gate, Bizot’s amazing account of being captured then released by the Khmer Rouge. His new book talks of him re-meeting his capturer at the Khmer Rough Tribunal.
Favorite travel website(s) – besides JohnnyJet.com, of course!: I think Travelfish.org is ok. For narrative I like WorldHum, Uncornered Market, Perceptive Travel and for the industry gossip and hearsay, Tnooz is great.
Five things you bring on a plane: Something electronic to distract me and my camera.
What do you always seem to forget: Without fail a plug adaptor.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport duty-free store? Duty free booze.
Favorite travel iPhone app(s): Instagram, Kindle for iPhone and XE.
Most embarrassing/worst travel moment: Waking up in another passenger’s hammock on an overnight boat in Vietnam. The lady was asleep on the deck underneath me as she was too polite to wake me. I was mortified.
What’s your dream destination: Beach, sun all day, rain all night, with beach huts, internet and lots of pork and cheese.
Favorite travel charity: I think Pepy in Cambodia is doing some good work.
Best travel tip: Always pack an open mind.