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: Zak Erving
Occupation: Category Five Creative Force
Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska
Residence: Santa Barbara, California
Bio: My first memory was at eight months old, and at the age of five I proclaimed Rube Goldberg my Hero of Wit & Whim. The following year, I began dabbling in the basic mechanics of human flight using little more than cardboard, duct tape, and my only pair of tennis shoes. I fell like a rock from the tippy-top of the playground, but my head remained in the clouds. I’ve been brainstorming ever since.
I travel, write about what I learn, and design all kinds of things all around the world.
How often do you fly? As little as possible: trains are the best! But I’ve been on over 20 flights in the past ten months.
How many countries have you been to? Just notched #30! But I don’t count ones I’ve only traveled through or stopped for coffee in (like Austria and Bosnia & Herzegovina).
How many continents have you been to? 3
Favorite American city: Portland.
Favorite international city: Tie: Galway, Ireland or Zagreb, Croatia
Least favorite country: I don’t know if any countries have soured my taste, but I do run for the hills whenever I catch a whiff of the cheap musk of a British stag party.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: I wouldn’t say they’re mean, but the U.K. officers make me feel like I’m in grade school again, and I’ve done something horribly wrong, only I don’t know what…yet.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska/Canada. The mountains there are so big they’re actually scary. I don’t mean that as a metaphor, either.
Favorite airline: Say what you will about American carriers, but the new American Airlines (everything from the cabins to the branding) blew me away. The LAX-LHR flight I took earlier this year was the best flying experience I’ve ever had.
Favorite aircraft type: Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, aka “the Warthog.” I grew up a military brat, and that was my dad’s steed ;) Between its lack of sleekness and the amount of resistance put up by the .50-cal cannon on the front, it’s a miracle the thing can even get airborne.
Aisle or window: Window.
Favorite airport lounge: Couldn’t say. I haven’t hit that “elite” status yet, and lounge staffers usually frown me away. They’re just jealous of my beard…
Favorite U.S. airport: Anchorage. It means I’m home.
Favorite international airport: For sheer aesthetics (sorry, I’m a designer), Warsaw’s international terminal had a really clever color scheme that is carried throughout. But as for an airport I look forward to visiting, Barcelona isn’t too shabby.
Favorite hotel: The Holualoa Inn in Kona, Hawaii.
Do you unpack into the dresser/closet? Or live out of your suitcase? Suitcase, like a caveman. If cavemen had suitcases.
Favorite cruise line: Sorry, it’s not really my style to cruise. I get stir crazy a little too easily, and I’ve already mastered the ping-pong decathalon.
Favorite island: Culebra, Puerto Rico. Beach camping doesn’t get much better.
Favorite beach: I’d share if I could, but I’ve gotta keep some of the surf breaks quiet, right?
Favorite fancy restaurant: I’m all for fancy food, but I’d rather stay in with the girlfriend and try cooking something new.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Lilly’s Tacos in Santa Barbara, California.
Favorite fruit: Passionfruit.
Favorite food: Lebanese, hands down. I love Italian food as much as the next guy, but Lebanese, to me, is the definitive Mediterranean flavor.
Least favorite food: I’m not a huge fan of crustaceans, so you can have all the shrimp.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): On the ground, it’s always coffee (before 2 pm) and an IPA (after). In the air, it’s a 1:1 ratio of alcohol to sparkling water.
Favorite travel movie(s): The Way (with Martin Sheen).
Favorite travel show(s): Episodes of Lost featuring Desmond.
Favorite travel book(s): “You Shall Know Our Velocity!” by Dave Eggers.
Right now I am reading: Book 2 of the “A Song of Fire and Ice” (Game of Thrones) series.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: National Geographic Magazine, Outside Magazine, Mike Sowden’s Fevered Mutterings.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! MatadorNetwork (full disclosure: I’m on staff there! But I really believe in what they’re doing with regards to travel media.)
5 things you bring on a plane: Laptop, iPad, Headphones, Lost Luggage Survival Kit (deodorant, toothbrush, change of clothes, etc.), A good attitude and a smile for the flight attendants.
What do you always seem to forget? To buy presents for friends and family back home.
What do you like least about travel? It gets lonely and tedious on the road for months on end.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport duty-free store? Whiskey.
Favorite travel app(s): Triposo for offline maps; Eventbrite/Passbook for finding events and having tickets handy; Instagram for chronicling everything.
Most embarrassing travel moment: Telling a barista in Italy “I love you” when I meant to say “I hope you feel better.” The truth of me actually having a massive crush on her didn’t help, either.
Worst travel moment: After my third robbery in 18 months (while traveling), I seriously contemplated giving it up. I’m one of the most cautious travelers I know, so I was beginning to think I had some existential target on my head.
What’s your dream destination: Outer space!
Favorite travel charity: Passports with Purpose.
Best travel tip: Make sure you leave a place before you’ve “run out of fun.” That way, you’ll always want to go back.