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: Ruth Wertzberger Carlson
Occupation: Travel writer
Hometown: Dubuque, Iowa
Residence: Proud to say San Francisco
College: University of California, Berkeley
College major: English literature
Facebook: Ruth Carlson
Short bio: As the fifth child out of ten Ruth is comfortable in crowds and talking to anyone…which comes in handy as a travel writer. She grew up in Iowa and luckily when she was 17 her father’s company transferred him to the San Francisco Bay Area.
After a career in broadcasting and public relations for colleges she was able to became a full-time travel writer…her dream job.
How often do you fly? At least once a month.
How many countries have you been to? Wow! Have to count…at least a dozen.
How many continents have you been to? Five.
Earliest travel memory: My mother wanted to educate us through travel and with 10 of us the only way we could afford it was trading houses. Fortunately a family in Washington, D.C, had relatives in Dubuque so we submitted a letter and won. We were able to meet with our Iowan congressman and see the White House—albeit in sweltering heat.
Favorite American city: San Francisco.
Favorite international city: Paris…it’s a cliché but there is nothing like Paris.
Least favorite country: This is tough…I fall in love with every place I visit…right now though Russia is scary.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: The U.K.! They have to be tough but they are scary.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Norway…it is so beautiful it seems like the whole country is a World Heritage Site.
Favorite airline: Virgin Atlantic! I just flew them and they are reminiscent of the old days when travel was glamorous. The lounge in London is amazing.
Favorite aircraft type: I’m not a guy! I don’t know—anything with first class!
Aisle or window: Aisle. My husband liked windows to take photos and fall asleep but I like to get up and walk around.
Favorite airport lounge: Virgin Atlantic in London—there is no second place!
Favorite U.S. airport: San Francisco.
Favorite international airport: Charles De Gaulle…great shopping.
Favorite hotel: Hotel du Palais in Biarritz, France. A former summer home for Napoleon III and his wife, Eugénie. The room, overlooking the ocean, was so big my husband and I couldn’t find each other.
Favorite cruise line: I have only done one cruise, through Norway’s fjords. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and a waterfall was right next to my window.
Favorite travel credit card: American Express.
Favorite island: Molokai, Hawaii even though a gecko kept us up all night.
Favorite beach: Bondi Beach, Australia.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Mistral at the Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio, Italy.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: My husband Rich Carlson was really good at finding these…we had a memorable evening with locals tasting sangria and appetizers at a cliff overlooking the ocean in Biarritz, France.
Favorite bar: The Balboa Cafe in San Francisco where I got together with my husband.
Favorite fruit: Raspberries.
Favorite food: Tapas in Spain.
Least favorite food: Brussels sprouts.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Champagne and more champagne.
Favorite travel movie(s): It Happened One Night and Roman Holiday.
Favorite travel show(s): Anything with Johnny Jet!
Favorite travel book(s): The one I’m writing.
Right now I am reading: “A Widow’s Guide to Dating.”
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! TheBAT-SF.com (part of travelskills.com).
5 things you bring on a plane: Pashmina, iPad, a magazine (usually “Vanity Fair”), custom earplugs, socks, and eyeshades that say, “working on my novel.”
What do you always seem to forget? Enough tops. For some reason I always have tons of pants and skirts but run short on tops.
What do you like least about travel? Packing.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Jo Malone rose perfume or a Smythson notebook.
Most embarrassing travel moment: My sense of direction is horrible—I am navigationally challenged—so there are many times when I get lost! Or should I mention my honeymoon in Italy when the hot Italian train conductor was flirting with me in front of my new husband?
Worst travel moment: In Barcelona, rioters were throwing bottles and I had my two nieces to worry about.
What’s your dream destination? Gosh everytime I think I have seen the world I think about the places I have not been…Dubai, Shanghai, South Africa to name a few.
Favorite travel charity: I think we need to start one for chambermaids. I was a maid in college so I know how tough this job is. My husband said it was sexist and I agree. Everyone tips the bellhops but often guests don’t meet the maids—who have the toughest jobs—so they don’t tip them.
Best travel tip: Go! Too many people are intimidated by travel and once they get out there they realize the world is vast and yet smaller than we think…we all want the same things.