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: Christopher P. Baker
Occupation: Travel writer/photographer/lecturer/tour leader
Hometown: Yorkshire, England
Residence: Palm Springs, CA
Short Bio: Christopher—the Lowell Thomas Award 2008 ‘Travel Journalist of the Year’—has established himself as one of the world’s leading travel writers, and is a Getty Images and National Geographic contributing photographer. He launched his journalism career three decades ago specializing in adventure travel and Asia/Pacific Rim, and later deluxe resort and cruise reporting. More recently a specialist in the Caribbean and Central America, he is today considered the world’s foremost authority on travel and tourism to Cuba, about which he has authored six books.
He has contributed to more than 200 print and online publications as far ranging as Caribbean Travel & Life, Maxim, National Geographic Traveler, The Robb Report, and CNN Go; and has authored more than 30 guidebooks for Dorling Kindersley, Frommer’s, Lonely Planet, Moon, National Geographic, etc. His literary travelog, Mi Moto Fidel: Motorcycling Through Castro’s Cuba (National Geographic Adventure Press), is a two-time national book award winner.
Christopher appears regularly on radio and TV interviews, and has been featured on ABC, CBS, Fox TV, NBC, NPR, & dozens of other radio & TV outlets. A gifted public speaker, he has been privileged to address the National Press Club, National Geographic Live!, and World Affairs Council; and has been keynote speaker at such venues as the TBEX (Travel Blogger’s Exchange) and North American Travel Journalist Association’s annual conference. He has anchored several TV travel shows, and co-stars with actor/singing legend David Soul in Cuban Soul, a TV documentary about the restoration of Ernest Hemingway’s long-lost 1955 Chrysler New Yorker convertible.
A keen motorcyclist, he recently led the first U.S. group motorcycle tours of Cuba, and is also a ‘resident expert’ tour leader for National Geographic Expeditions.
How often do you fly: I fly on average every second week, sometimes weekly
How many countries have you been to: More than 90
How many continents have you been to: Every continent except Antarctica
Favorite American city: New York
Favorite international city: Havana, Hong Kong, Istanbul, London
Least favorite country: Everywhere has its pluses and minuses. I used to author and photograph Lonely Planet’s The Bahamas guidebook. I found the destination boring and extremely expensive, but it redeemed itself with gorgeous beaches and fantastic sportfishing and scuba diving.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Machu Picchu, Habana Vieja, Great Barrier Reef
Favorite airline: Virgin, Singapore, Cathay Pacific… in fact, most of the Asian carriers are superb
Favorite aircraft type: 747… or a helicopter. I love flying helicopters
Aisle or window: Window, as I love to see the geography below
Favorite airport lounge: Virgin VIP London Heathrow
Favorite U.S. airport: Dallas
Favorite international airport: Anyone with a fantastic view on landing. Rio de Janeiro and the old Hong Kong airport are unbeatable
Favorite hotel: It depends on the context. With a lover I adored Las Brisas, Acapulco. Wilderness experience? I haven’t yet experienced an African safari, so I’ll opt for the tropical rainforest such as Pacuare Jungle Lodge, Costa Rica. Urban chic? Too many great hotels to pinpoint. The Regent Hong Kong used to astound me with its beyond-belief service
Do you unpack into the dresser/closet? Or live out of your suitcase? Suitcase
Favorite cruise line: Any of the masted ships, such as Star Clipper; but I also love small boat experiences, such as in the Galapagos Islands
Favorite island: Bora Bora for jaw-dropping beauty… The Marquesas Islands for the approach by copra freighter… Bali before the tourist invasion (I have fond memories of circling the island by bicycle).
Favorite fancy restaurant: It depends on the city
Favorite hole in the wall: As above
Favorite fruit: Kiwi, mango
Favorite food: Sushi
Least favorite food: I’m a gourmand at heart, but some of the animal oddities in Asian markets turn my stomach and give me guilt pangs
Drink of choice (In the air and on the ground): Sparkling water. I rarely drink alcohol and never when flying, but red wine with a meal, and vodka martinis back in the day
Favorite travel movie(s): Lawrence of Arabia, Thelma & Louise, Motorcycle Diaries
Favorite travel show(s): An Idiot Abroad. I’ve traveled with a few!
Favorite travel book(s): Mi Moto Fidel: Motorcycling Through Castro’s Cuba, of course! But also Jupiter’s Travels; Kingdom by the Sea; Slowly Down the Ganges, or any other book by Eric Newby
Right now I am reading: I usually have multiple books on the go consecutively. Currently I’m reading Visit Sunny Chernobyl plus Castro’s Secrets, and Inferno: The World at War 1939-1945
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: Afar; Travel & Leisure; Christopher Elliott
Favorite travel website(s) – besides JohnnyJet.com, of course!: World Hum
Five things you bring on a plane: The Economist (it’s good for a five-hour flight) and/or a book, plus writing materials, and my camera bag and laptop
What do you always seem to forget: Nothing… I’m pretty organized
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport duty free store? Nothing
Favorite travel iPhone app(s): I don’t use iPhone
Most embarrassing travel moment: Being lent a new BMW R1200GSA motorcycle by BMW for filming a travel how in Los Angeles, and dropping it in front of the manager, PR director, and sales staff as I returned it to the showroom.
Worst travel moment: Being robbed of all my possessions, including seven weeks worth of notes and photography, while on National Geographic assignment in Colombia. I woke up next morning and sobbed like a baby.
What’s your dream destination: Antarctica, an elephant-back safari in Botswana, and I’ve yet to explore Paris and Rome
Favorite travel charity: World Wildlife Foundation
Best travel tip: Don’t overplan things. Let serendipity deliver surprise rewards