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: Susan Farlow
Occupation: Travel Writer/Photographer
Hometown: Washington, DC area
Residence: Orono, Maine
Facebook: Susan Farlow
Short Bio: I’ve been a freelance travel writer for some three decades, writing for newspapers and magazines. A member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) since 1984, I’m guilty of always looking for the exotic, the offbeat and the far-flung. And nothing makes me happier than a trip that involves animals. Actually, some of my most memorable travel companions have been animals, such as a bunch of eccentric she-camels who accompanied me on a Sahara trek.
How many countries have you been to: 81
How many continents have you been to: 6
Favorite American city: Boston or Washington, DC (my old hometown)
Favorite international city: This is a hard question. I love many cities and for different reasons. Here are a few: Budapest, Hong Kong, Vienna. Thing is, if you ask me tomorrow, I might rattle off an entirely different trio of cities. There are so many wonderful cities in this world.
Favorite World Heritage Site: I haven’t counted how many World Heritage Sites I’ve been to but there have been loads of them. China’s Great Wall is certainly one of them because of the structure, of course, but also because of the incredible history of the undertaking.
Favorite airline: Singapore Airlines and SWISS International Airlines (hey, SWISS gave me a hot-fudge sundae!)
Favorite aircraft type: I’m not particular about this. I can’t ever recall choosing a flight because of the aircraft used.
Aisle or window: Aisle
Favorite airport lounge: Well, I’ve always been a fan of those mustard-flavored pretzels in British Airways lounges.
Favorite U.S. airport: BGR: that’s Bangor (Maine) International Airport, folks. It’s quiet, with free wi-fi (for a limited time), plus they have an on-going Troop Greeter program
Favorite international airport: I get a kick out of the Cusco airport in Peru because it’s so unpredictable due to weather patterns. Reminds me of the origin of the word travel, from the Old French “travail” meaning “painful effort.” Cusco airport is an adventure ’cause you never know if your plane’s going to depart on time…or depart at all that day.
Favorite hotel: Oh, hard to choose! One of them is the Palais Jamai in Fez, Morocco. It was once a palace, built in 1879, for the Grand Vizir of Jamai. My room had sumptuous stained glass windows, a separate entrance, and was a stone’s throw from Fez’s medina. Magical place.
Favorite cruise line: I’ve taken scores and scores of cruises. But actually my fave cruise line no longer exists. It was Society Expeditions, an expedition cruise line that went to plenty of far-flung places, all astounding spots on the globe.
Favorite island: Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia. That trip was extra special for me because I was traveling with descendants of the artist Paul Gauguin who’s buried on one of the Marquesas Islands (Hiva Oa)
Favorite hole in the wall: Any place in the world, where I can sit outside and eat, while people-watching.
Favorite fruit: Dates and figs, especially if I’m in Morocco. Blueberries, if I’m in Maine.
Favorite food: Indian (I can’t recall ever having a bad meal in India.)
Least favorite food: Durian!
Drink of choice (In the air and on the ground) (In the air and on the ground) On the ground: pisco sour, especially if made in Chile or Peru; In the air: water
Favorite travel movie(s): The Year of Living Dangerously. I saw it right before the first time I went to Indonesia, in 1985. I was mesmerized by the country before I even set foot there.
Favorite travel show(s): Travel Channel shows; the Michael Palin’s travel shows he did for PBS; the “Ring of Fire” (Indonesia) series that Lawrence Blair did for PBS.
Favorite travel book(s): Again so many faves. Here’s one: “Zarafa: A Gifraffe’s True story, from Deep in Africa to the Heart of Paris,” by Michael Allin.
Right now I am reading: I always have a bunch of books going at any one time. At the moment, I’m into: 1. “My War Gone By, I Miss It So” by Anthony Loyd about the Balkans (it was recommended to me by James O’Reilly, publisher of the Travelers’ Tales books; 2. The Tao of Travel by Paul Theroux; 3. Last Flight Out by Randy Wayne White
Five things you bring on a plane: lip balm, bottle of water, Wet Wipes, small first-aid kit (w/dramamine, aspirin, band-aids, pepto-bismol tabs, etc.)
What do you always seem to forget: It’s been years sinceI’ve forgotten anything important. That’s because I have packing lists — refined over many decades of travel — that I consult countless times before I close the bag and walk out the door.
Favorite travel iPhone app(s): I’ve got about three screens’ worth of travel apps! Some of the faves: TripIt, Cultures, All Countries, SmartTraveler, ATM Finder, Newseum (has links to worldwide newspapers … useful for any traveler). And don’t even get me started on all the other iPhone apps that are relevant to travel (camera & video ones, conversions, etc).
Most embarrassing/worst travel moment: Well, there have been many. One of them was the time I tracked in dog poop into the public areas of a riverboat on the Danube when it was docked in Regensburg, Germany. Had no idea poop was on my shoes. When I realized what I’d done, I was mortified. Lobby area was busy with passengers so it was clear that it was I who had made the mess. I even went to housekeeping and told them I would clean up everything. They had no problem with this and gave me all the detergent and cleaning towels I wanted. Nevertheless, I felt embarrased for the rest of the trip…talk about feeling like a dog with his tail between his legs.
What’s your dream destination: A Gobi desert trek on a Bactrian camel
Favorite travel website(s) – besides JohnnyJet.com, of course!: Well, it’s true: I have been a fan of JohnnyJet.com for many years! Then, there’s the travel advisory website of the US State Department, as well as the travel advisory websites of the Canadian, UK and Australian governments. I also check out the websites of newspapers located in the places I’ll be traveling.
Best travel tip: Besides the obvious one about being open to new experiences on your travels, here’s one I don’t usually see: Carry a travel thermometer. It’s always interesting –and sometimes surprising– to see exactly how hot (or cold) the temperature is where you are. I’ve got one attached to a loop on my backpack and one on my travel purse. I’ve often included temp readings in my stories. Especially when the temp turned out to be unexpected.