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: Serena Renner
Occupation: Freelance writer and editor
Hometown: Carpinteria (Santa Barbara County), California
Residence: Sydney, Australia
Bio: Serena Renner is a journalist and editor who is passionate about travel, culture, nature, and life’s journeys. On the road, she’s endured a torrential downpour in Kerala, India; snorkeled with penguins and sharks in the Galapagos Islands; and visited 11 U.S. national parks in a single summer. Her work has been featured in such magazines as VIA, the Intelligent Optimist, San Francisco, and AFAR, where she most recently worked as the assistant managing editor. In October of 2013, Serena relocated to Sydney, Australia, where’s she’s currently launching her freelance writing and editing career and searching for adventures on land and in the sea.
How often do you fly? Once every month or two.
How many countries have you been to? 18, not including airport stops.
How many continents have you been to? 6
Favorite American city: San Francisco.
Favorite international city: Paris, though I have a soft spot for Granada, Spain.
Least favorite country: I’ve loved every country I’ve visited.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: The U.S.
Favorite World Heritage Sites: Cultural site: the Albaycín district of Granada; City: Guanajuato, Mexico; Natural site: Glacier National Park.
Favorite airline: Virgin America.
Favorite aircraft type: Um, the big roomy kind?
Aisle or window: Window.
Favorite airport lounge: I’ve only been to the Turkish Airlines lounge in Istanbul, but with a library, pool table, and dozens of food stations serving everything from grilled meze to fancy desserts, it’s going to be a tough one to beat.
Favorite U.S. airport: Bozeman Yellowstone International in Montana and the Spanish-style Santa Barbara airport win on the smaller scale. San Diego is one of my favorite places to fly into, though—you zoom between downtown skyscrapers and land right next to the ocean.
Favorite international airport: Despite the lines, Heathrow is probably my favorite. There are some great options for breakfast and beer, and it’s fun to compare the nationals with the foreigners; they look the same!
Favorite hotel: I have to call a tie between the Taj Vivanta Bekal in Kerala, India, and Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California.
Favorite cruise line: I’ve only been on one “cruise,” with a small expedition company called Ecoventura in the Galapagos Islands. I’d recommend the outfit for it’s sustainable travel style, the 20-passenger maximum, and the awesome fruit juices.
Favorite travel credit card: The Chase Explorer Card is pretty sweet. There are some great mileage deals when you open an account, and the last time I went to Sonoma, most of my wine tastings were free!
Favorite island: I grew up with a view of the California Channel Islands. Until I hit the Whitsundays or the Aleutian Islands, the Channel Islands will remain my favorites.
Favorite beach: Bondi Beach, my new home shore in Sydney.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Delfina in San Francisco.
Favorite hole in-the-wall: Verti Marte in New Orleans; Café Van Kleef in Oakland (which feels like New Orleans).
Favorite fruit: Pineapple.
Favorite food: Mexican.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): English-style cider. But I usually have to resort to cranberry apple juice in the air.
Favorite travel movie(s): Into the Wild.
Favorite travel book(s): The Sun Also Rises.
Right now I am reading: True History of the Kelly Gang.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: I’m a magazine junkie. My top three for travel are AFAR, Outside, and National Geographic.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! AFAR.com, Matador Network, Airbnb.
5 things you bring on a plane: iPhone (for those timeless wing-in-the-sunset shots), laptop, book/magazine/iPad, water canteen, snacks.
What do you always seem to forget? To set up travel alerts on my credit and ATM cards.
Favorite travel app(s): Instagram, Skype, Airbnb.
Worst travel moment: Getting pickpocketed in Barcelona despite the warnings and having to wait a week in San Sebastian while my replacement ATM card got lost in the mail. Finally, my mom wired me enough money to meet a friend in Venice, and said friend spotted me for the three remaining weeks of our trip. I guess there’s a reason people use traveler’s checks.
What’s your dream destination? Today, it’s Indonesia.
Best travel tip: Ask the locals.