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: Debbra Dunning Brouillette
Occupation: Freelance Travel Writer & Photographer
Hometown: Mt. Vernon, Indiana (in southern Indiana, near Evansville)
Residence: Muncie, Indiana (Before moving back to Indiana, I lived in Denton, Texas, near Dallas and Ft. Worth, for 5½ years and loved it!)
Website: Recently launched! Tropical Travel Girl—tropicaltravelgirl.com—features tropical destinations I’ve visited in the Caribbean, Pacific and around the world. It includes links to my published articles, information to help travelers choose their ideal island vacation destination, and blog posts on all things tropical.
Facebook: Tropical Travel Girl
Pinterest: Debbra Brouillette
Instagram: Tropical Travel Girl
Short bio: Tropical travel has been my passion for more than two decades as I have traveled throughout the Caribbean Islands. In the past five years, trips to French Polynesia, Fiji, Canary Islands, Galapagos Islands, Kauai, Spain’s Balearic Islands, and Corsica have expanded my world of tropical travel beyond the Caribbean. A scuba diver and avid photographer, I enjoy exploring the reefs and natural wonders, savoring the food, meeting the natives, and finding what makes each island unique. After a long career as a healthcare writer/editor, I’ve transitioned to freelance travel writing and blogging, and take on a book editing project from time to time.
How often do you fly? 4-5 times a year.
How many countries have you been to? Counting all the islands I’ve visited (41), the overall total is 48.
How many continents have you been to? 4
Earliest travel memory: Florida beach vacations with my family.
Favorite American city: Dallas-Ft. Worth metro area.
Favorite international city: I haven’t visited that many cities internationally. I keep going to islands and out of the way destinations, but I’d love to go back to London, England, and to Quebec City, Canada.
Least favorite country: So far, I’ve haven’t been to a country I didn’t like.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: I haven’t had a negative experience with an immigration officer, thankfully! My only bad experience was with a security clearance officer in Tobago. She took away a small Ziploc bag filled with sand that was in my carry-on. I have a sand collection and hadn’t had that happen anywhere else in the world. (When I went to the Galapagos, I of course didn’t try, since removing anything from the islands is strictly prohibited.)
Favorite World Heritage Site: Galapagos Islands National Park.
Favorite airline: American Airlines.
Favorite aircraft type: Boeing 747-400 or any large jet.
Aisle or window: Window (I love taking photos out of the window).
Favorite airport lounge: I’ve only been in a few and I’ve loved them all!
Favorite U.S. airport: Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW).
Favorite international airport: Bora Bora Airport (BOB) on the islet of Motu Mute; the view doesn’t get any better! Otherwise, Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW); it’s my comfort zone.
Favorite hotel(s): Hilton Bora Bora Nui, French Polynesia; Bahía del Duque Resort, Tenerife, Canary Islands; Namale Resort, Fiji; St. Regis Princeville Resort, Kauai; Four Seasons; and Nisbet Plantation, Nevis, West Indies. The list could go on!
Do you unpack into the dresser/closet? Or live out of your suitcase? It’s according to how long I’ll be staying in one place. I unpack completely if I’m going to be in the same resort for more than a few nights.
Favorite cruise line: Star Clippers, with whom I have sailed the Caribbean’s Windward Islands and most recently, through islands in the Mediterranean Sea.
Favorite island(s): That’s a hard question for an island lover! In the Caribbean, it would have to be Nevis (next to St. Kitts). I’ve been there more than any other. In the South Pacific, it’s Bora Bora; of U.S. islands, it’s Kauai. In Europe, it’s Tenerife, Canary Islands. But there are so many more, it’s like asking a mother which of her children is her favorite!
Favorite beach(es): Another impossible question to a tropical travel girl! I must begin with the sugar-white sand beaches of the Florida Panhandle, where I’ve spent more time than all the others. Some other amazing strands of sand: Any beach in Anguilla; Gardner Bay beach, Galapagos Islands, where privileged visitors share the beach with sea lions; the secluded beach of Vomo Island, Fiji, with a view of the Mamanucas; and Grace Bay Beach, Provo, Turks and Caicos.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Pimms (Cap Juluca, Anguilla); Kauai Grill (St. Regis Princeville, Kauai); Opus (Turks & Caicos). I could go on and on!
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Mi Ranchito, Denton, Texas, for a true hole in the wall. Can I add favorite casual island eateries? Scilly Cay, Anguilla, on its own private islet, for grilled lobster and Anguillian crayfish; and Golden Rock Plantation, Nevis, for its lobster salad sandwiches.
Favorite fruit(s): Mangos, berries, grapes.
Favorite food: Seafood and fish—lobster, scallops, mahi mahi, salmon, mussels, and whatever the “fresh catch” of the day happens to be.
Least favorite food: Liver and other organ meats.
Drink of choice (In the air and on the ground): Sparkling water and ginger ale in the air; dry white wine on the ground.
Favorite travel movie(s): The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Under the Tuscan Sun, Castaway, French Kiss, A Good Year.
Favorite travel show(s): Any shows that feature scuba diving, oceans, sea life, island foods, and lifestyle. (I loved Samantha Brown’s shows on the Travel Channel.)
Favorite travel book(s): “Don’t Stop the Carnival” by Herman Wouk; “An Embarrassment of Mangos: A Caribbean Interlude” by Ann Vanderhoof; “A Trip to the Beach: Living on Island Time in the Caribbean” by Melinda & Robert Blanchard.
Right now I am reading: “Fire Bone! A Maverick Guide to a Life in Journalism” by Robert W. Bone. (We met on a cruise last year and I’m thoroughly enjoying his memoir!)
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: Islands magazine, National Geographic Traveler, and lots of travel blogs (don’t want to leave someone out!).
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! TripAdvisor, Frommers, Fodors, Samantha Brown, Peter Greenberg.
5 things you bring on a plane: Neck pillow, blanket, compression stockings, earplugs, gum.
What do you always seem to forget? Usually it’s nothing that important, but I forgot my round brush on a trip to Fiji—a necessity for blowing my hair dry. First stop after landing was a pharmacy so I could buy one!
What do you like least about travel? Long lines in Customs and tight flight connections, as well as flight delays, and the dreaded delayed or lost luggage, which is why I now go carry-on whenever possible.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? I’m not that interested in duty free items. Buy me a locally made craft item instead.
Favorite travel app(s): Skype (to stay in touch with my husband), TripCase, GateGuru, Genius Scan.
Most embarrassing travel moment: Years ago, on a trip to England, I was staying at a bed-and-breakfast in London and bit down on a piece of “streaky” bacon, chipping off a good portion of the bonding material that I then had on one of my front teeth. It was the last full day of the trip before flying back to the U.S. and we had plans to go to Windsor Castle on the train. I self-consciously had my hand to my mouth the rest of the trip so people wouldn’t see my very unattractive chipped tooth.
Worst travel moment: I endured stomach pains on the way back from Nevis, West Indies, in ’09, which were diagnosed as an ulcer after getting home. Medication took care of the ulcer, but it was my most miserable travel day ever.
What’s your dream destination? I’ve been blessed to visit several of my dream destinations—Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora; Fiji, and the Galapagos Islands, but I never stop dreaming! Still on my list: a South African safari, returning to the South Pacific with my husband, cruising the Greek isles, and making it Down Under to “Oz.” Dream experiences include snorkeling with whale sharks and diving with manta rays.
Favorite travel charity: They’re not strictly travel charities, but I support the Galapagos Conservancy, the Ocean Conservancy and Save the Turtles programs.
Best travel tip(s): 1) When things don’t go according to plan or are out of your control, try to maintain a “go with the flow” attitude. 2) Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone: try new things, new foods and new experiences. 3) Go carry-on whenever possible! I did for a Mediterranean cruise trip last summer, and what a relief not to have to worry about lost or delayed luggage, plus it sped up time going through Customs.
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