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: Elisa Kotin
Occupation: Writer, Travel Blogger, Travel Meetup Host, Public Speaker, Travel Presenter, Event Planner
Hometown: Los Angeles
Residence: Valley Glen, CA
College: Cal State Northridge
College major: B.A. Psychology
Facebook: The World Traveled
Instagram: The World Traveled
Pinterest: The World Traveled
Google+: The World Traveled
YouTube: The World Traveled
Meetup: The World Traveled
Short bio: Born and raised in Southern California I have a zest for the outdoors and a passion for life. My first two-month Eurail trip across Europe at 22 branched out spanning over 80 countries across all seven continents. I am wholeheartedly an adventure traveler and mostly enjoy soaking up culture by experiencing daily life with locals, singing and dancing with kids, and learning about customs and traditions! I often find myself in classrooms singing and honored when they thank me in return with song.
My thrill-seeking curiosity has taken me to the skies for sky-diving, bungee-jumping, gliding, zip lining, hang-gliding, trapeze-jumping, and aerobatic flying, my favorite. I have rolled a plane four times myself. Water sports have included white-water rafting, jet packing, kayaking with whales, swimming with a pod of 400 dolphins, Piranha fishing, caged shark diving, and caged crocodile diving (ok, the last one was rather hokey in South Africa). Land & mountain extreme sports have included abseiling, zorbing, luging, glacier climbing, ostrich riding, and more! I will try just about anything once…often twice!
I continually quench my thirst by seeking out unique destinations. I have researched, planned and booked most of my trips creating unique itineraries. My preference is to travel solo hiring a local driver/guide. I often find myself in remote and less than favorable conditions leaving me with fascinating stories and beautiful photographs. I love wildlife and have a particular interest in primates and big cats. I have spent many days in jungles trekking these elusive creatures in their natural habitats. I was even hit by a gorilla! Well, it was more like a flick to him, yet this seven-year-old black back almost dislocated my shoulder!
I’ve been a contestant on nine game shows, three talk shows, two reality shows, and three news broadcasts. I’m often booked for presenting slideshows on a variety of destinations. I love sharing my travel adventures inspiring others to seek out their inner wild side.
My feet are just getting wet and the best is yet to be experienced.
My dream and fantasy will always be to host my own travel show.
How often do you fly? As often as I can get away!
How many countries have you been to? Over 80.
How many continents have you been to? 7
Earliest travel memory: Camping in the woods with the Girl Scouts. I loved being in the wilderness!
Favorite American city: Las Vegas. What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas!
Favorite international city: Madrid and Berlin are two of my favorite walking cities. Sydney was a complete blast!
Least favorite country: Really? For me, there is no such thing. No matter where I have gone, I have been enriched. However, traveling solo in both India and China for two months each proved to be rather challenging. I did experience some of the finest that travel has to offer so there was balance.
I have no desire to go to: I can’t think of a place that I would say no to going to.
Friendliest people in the world: Ethiopians, Irish, Indonesians.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: I had a bit of a tough time crossing from Rwanda into Uganda so I was forced to spend another night in Rwanda which ended up being great fun shooting pool and drinking Waragi with a bunch of locals and I still made my gorilla trek the next morning.
Favorite World Heritage Site: I have a few. Stone Forest (Shilin) near Kunming, China. Abu Simbel—Egypt. And Giant’s Causeway—Ireland (I love rocks & basalt columns).
Favorite airline: Singapore, Virgin, Emirates.
Favorite aircraft type: Boeing 777 or Airbus A330.
Aisle or window: Aisle on long flights, window for short flights or on segments I know will have a view.
Favorite airport lounge: Bangkok, Abu Dhabi.
Favorite U.S. airport: LAX. I’m either leaving or coming home.
Favorite international airport: Incheon, South Korea.
Favorite hotel: I loved my stay at the Fairmont, Dubai.
Favorite cruise line: I’ve only been on two. I liked Carnival better than Norwegian.
Favorite travel credit card: Barclays.
Favorite island: Easter Island.
Favorite beach: Reynishverfi, Iceland (amazing basalt columns) near black sand beach Vik.
Favorite National Park: Bryce, Zion and Paparoa National Park.
Favorite fancy restaurant: I love Benihana (I know, not so fancy).
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Dr. Hogly Wogly’s Tyler Texas BBQ.
Favorite bar: Club Angenoir In Uganda. The dancing was off the chain! Zoo Bar in Puerto Vallarta was a blast! I had so much fun dancing in the cages!
Favorite fruit: Watermelon.
Favorite food: Chicken tenders, PB&J.
Least favorite food: All vegetables except romaine and broccoli.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Orange juice & sprite (working on water).
Favorite travel movie(s): Airplane, Gorillas in the Mist, new releases.
Favorite travel show(s): Wild Things, Animals Gone Wild.
Favorite travel book(s): My journal. I’m always writing.
Right now I am reading: “Mysteries of Mankind.”
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: National Geographic, TravelSmarter, Huffington Post.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! TripAdvisor.
5 things you bring on a plane: Music/headphones, soft cushy socks & featherweight slippers for those dirty bathroom floors, chapstick, hand lotion, a small inflatable lumbar pillow, and Airborne (ok…six).
What do you always seem to forget? Where I put my keys.
What do you like least about travel? The long flights.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? A scarf, vodka or jewelry.
Favorite travel app(s): TripAdvisor, Google Translate, Waze.
Most embarrassing travel moment: At the Timket Festival in Gondar, Ethiopia, I was so excited and caught up with the crowd I jumped into the pool at King Fasilides Castle with hundreds of kids that were jumping in from the tops of trees. I took my pants off to go in. Let’s just say, the videos of my thighs are less than favorable! Still an amazing moment. I just can’t show anyone the proof!
I’m embarrassed I haven’t been to: Hawaii.
Worst travel moment: I was staying in a mud-filled, wood hut with leeches my first night in West Papua Indonesia (formerly Irian Jaya). The conditions were clearly less than favorable and I was already uncomfortable being a solo female traveler in these parts. It was a dream to hike up into the mountains and stay with the Lani and Dani people. I was escorted by a local porter, cook and “guide” (not really) as all three were required. The “guide” was the only one that spoke English. I was now dark and I was trying to sleep when I heard the door opening to the “small wood structure.” I said hello? All I heard was fast foreign tongue. Who is it I called? I was freaked out and started screaming. He started screaming. It was awful. The guide had sent the porter to check on me to see how I was. Really? Who sends someone that does not speak English to see if the tourist needs anything? It was an awful moment that leaves me laughing now. I’ll say catching cholera in Zimbabwe ranks right up there as well.
What’s your dream destination? Greece, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Central Asia.
Favorite travel charity: Direct Relief International.
Best travel tip: Bring postcards from home and/or other small thank you gifts to give away. Always smile, be gracious and travel like a local.
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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.