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: Charles McCool
Occupation: Travel Advisor / Travel Writer
Hometown: Carol City, Florida (now called Miami Gardens)
Residence: Northern Virginia
College: University of Southern California
College major: Decision Systems with minor in Programming. So glamorous.
Website: McCoolTravel.com (and sitting on Funness.com until my billion dollar idea surfaces)
Facebook: McCool Travel
Google+: +Charles McCool
Short bio: Charles McCool is a how-to travel expert, author, trainer, and blogger. Profiled in the World’s Smartest Traveler series, his articles and travel advice have appeared in hundreds of sources, including CNN, Frommers, and USA Today. He wrote “Winning the Airfare Game,” designs dream trips for clients, and teaches consumers how to optimize travel opportunities. His road trip travels seeking the best ice cream and BBQ have taken him to all 50 states and several dozen countries.
How often do you fly? A few times a year. Road trips on the other hand…
How many countries have you been to? Really have not kept track but definitely in the double digit range. I do KNOW that I have been to every state, if that counts.
How many continents have you been to? All but SoAm and Antarctica.
Earliest travel memory: Driving between Kansas to South Florida, my father tried to explain why I had to change the time on my watch.
Favorite American city: I have spent the most time in Miami, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. and enjoy portions of all, along with San Francisco, Savannah, Portland, and many other cities. No one answer (can you tell?).
Favorite international city: Still looking…
Friendliest people in the world: Really, I have not encountered too many unfriendly people. Plus, if we look only at hospitality people, they SHOULD be friendly. If I have to pick, oh, I will say Jamaica.
Favorite airline: Pan-Am.
Favorite aircraft type: Fairchild PT series. My roommate in Monterey was a flight instructor and we would fly these Korean War era two-seaters around Monterey Bay and along Big Sur.
Aisle or window: Window with legroom.
Favorite U.S. airport: I am much, much happier when airports are in my rear view window. Smaller airports, especially in fun destinations, are my favorites. Key West, Kona, and Monterey will do.
Favorite international airport: It should be Carmelita, Guatemala, since its airport code is the same as my initials.
Favorite hotel: You are much more likely to find me in a vacation home, apartment, condo, or cheap motel.
Favorite cruise line: Disney is the only one I have been on. Twice. It was excellent.
Favorite island: St. John, USVI
Favorite beach: One for every mood. Pfeiffer (Big Sur), Venice, and Carmel are California favorites. Anna Maria Island and Sombrero in Florida. Outer Banks, NC is a family favorite. Any beach in Hawaii or the Caribbean or along the Mediterranean. My dream gig is replacing Dr. Beach one day.
Favorite fancy restaurant: I cannot think of a “fancy” place that I have been to more than one time. Unless we count The Palm. Mmmm, filet mignon.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: El Migueleño in Seaside, California.
Favorite bar: Any tropical bar with comfy chairs in the sand and ocean breezes.
Favorite fruit: I love blueberries, bananas and watermelons.
Favorite food: Carnitas, ice cream, BBQ, lobster, great pizza.
Least favorite food: Avocados and cantaloupe.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): In flight I usually request ginger ale & cranberry in coach; Amaretto & OJ up front. On the ground, my go to is mojito or McCool’s Island Dream.
Favorite travel movie(s): Not the usual answer, but I love Nothing But Trouble. It follows a road trip gone horribly wrong by the most amazing cast.
Favorite travel show(s): The Jetsons :D
Favorite travel book(s): “Traveler’s Tool Kit” by Rob Sangster and the first half of Rick Steves’ “Europe Through the Back Door” are amazing travel reference works. “Travels” by Michael Crichton is my most memorable travel essay book.
Right now I am reading: I seem to always be in the middle of several books including at least one bio (right now, Jon Secada).
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: The Flight Deal, Pizza in Motion, and International Travel News (ITN).
5 things you bring on a plane: 1. Camelbak refillable filtered water bottle and an extra water bottle (hydration is important) 2. magazines 3. snacks (wasabi peas, trail mix, granola bars) 4. Purell and/or baby wipes 5. iPod Shuffle and ear buds (old school).
What do you always seem to forget? To make plans to meet online contacts when I know I will be or am in their areas.
What do you like least about travel? Degraded air travel (airport and in-flight) experience.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Rum or black sambuca will suffice.
Favorite travel app(s): Yelp.
Most embarrassing travel moment: Totally missed St. Peter’s on first visit to Vatican City. Realized it when the train entered Switzerland.
Worst travel moment: Nothing too horrible. My rental car was towed in Evora, Portugal but even that turned out just fine. As Joe Walsh said, “Life’s been good to me so far.”
What’s your dream destination? Southern points RTW: Patagonia, Antarctica, Cape Town, Perth, Hobart, Melbourne, New Zealand, South Pacific, Easter Island, Galapagos.
Favorite travel charity: Does Kiva count?
Best travel tip: Travel light—physically and mentally.
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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.