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: Brian Portnoy
College: University of Michigan
College major: Political Science
Short bio: Writer, educator, investor. I’ve published two books on how to simplify the complex world of money. The more recent, “The Geometry of Wealth,” explores how money figures in to a happy life.
How often do you fly? 3-4 times per month.
How many countries have you been to? I think about 26-27.
How many continents have you been to? 4
Earliest travel memory: When I was a very young boy, I had my mom take me to Pittsburgh International Airport to watch the planes take off. I wanted to know where they were going.
Favorite American city: Chicago.
Favorite international city: London.
Least favorite country: Wouldn’t be nice to say.
I have no desire to go to: Venezuela.
Friendliest people in the world: Canada.
Favorite airline: American.
Favorite aircraft type: 777.
Aisle or window: Aisle. For me, a mild version of hell is a bulkhead window seat.
Favorite airport lounge: LAX international terminal or Hong Kong.
Favorite U.S. airport: U.S. airports are generally awful.
Favorite international airport: Hong Kong.
Favorite hotel: Four Seasons Ubud (Bali).
Favorite cruise line: I don’t do boats.
Favorite island: Bali.
Favorite beach: Silver Beach, St. Joseph Michigan.
Favorite National Park: Zion.
Favorite fancy restaurant: The Fat Duck.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Jugemu.
Favorite bar: Fountainhead (Chicago), Widder Bar (Zurich).
Favorite fruit: Bananas, really soft plums, mangos.
Favorite food: Thai, broadly.
Least favorite food: Beets.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Bourbon.
Favorite travel movie(s): Lost in Translation, Midnight Run, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
Favorite travel show(s): Parts Unknown.
Favorite travel book(s): “Siddhartha.”
Right now I am reading: “Homo Deus,” “When Einstein Walked with Godel,” “The Razor’s Edge,” “Deep Survival.”
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! Google Maps—honestly, it solves every minor problem.
5 things you bring on a plane: Bose noise-reducing headsets, laptop, chargers, books, notebook.
What do you like least about travel? Time away from the kids.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Anyone who loves me knows I don’t believe in Duty Free shopping.
Favorite travel app(s): Uber.
Most embarrassing travel moment: When living in London, I had a business trip to Mumbai. It just never occurred to me that I needed a visa to take the flight, so I checked in at Heathrow but was turned away at the gate. I had to cancel a week’s worth of meetings.
I’m embarrassed I haven’t been to: South America.
Worst travel moment: Being escorted to the Belgian border because my Eurail pass (this was 1992) had expired and I had no money to buy a new ticket. Being broke in France afterwards wasn’t much more pleasant than being broke in Belgium.
What’s your dream destination? Chiang Mai, Tibet, Buenos Aires.
Best travel tip: Don’t be afraid of getting lost.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.