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: Emily C. Brands
Occupation: Co-Founder, The Purple Passport
Hometown: Glen Ridge, NJ
Residence: Durham, NC
Short Bio: Emily is a co-founder of The Purple Passport, a web-based collection of chic one-stop-shop guides to experiencing the world’s cities in style. She has lived in a range of cities including New York, Chicago, and Beijing, and, from a young age, spent summers in Taiwan, Japan, and Spain. Through her work on The Purple Passport, she has also contributed to The Huffington Post Travel, National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel, SheKnows.com Travel, The Daily Muse Travel, among other sites. Emily is enamored with finding and cooking foods from all nooks of the world for her family and friends, and these days is endeavoring to cultivate the Southern belle within her.
How often do you fly: These days with two young babies, my flying has been cut down a bit, with a little more road travel added in. I average about a dozen flights a year.
How many countries have you been to: 23, give or take a few.
How many continents have you been to: 4
Favorite American city: New York City – it was home for 10 years, and I loved how dynamic the city was. I was discovering new places in my own neighborhood of 8 years up until the day I left!
Favorite international city: A tie between two cities: London and Taipei. The former because it’s so cosmopolitan and lively, and I could easily see myself living there; the latter because I love the food (and you have a really hard time finding Taiwanese and Hakka foods here in the states) and I’ve got family there.
Least favorite country: Really tough to say, maybe China. I lived in Beijing for a year and while it was amazing to travel around and see all the different sub-cultures, I missed the simple “luxuries” of the developed world, like social manners (no yelling, no spitting, lines).
Favorite World Heritage Site: Rock Islands Palau – it’s simply breathtaking. I wasn’t diving at the time, but even just sailing around and snorkeling was enough to nail this down as my favorite UNESCO site.
Favorite airline: Cathay Pacific – the service is unbeatable, along with the food.
Favorite aircraft type: Boeing 777
Aisle or window: Aisle
Favorite airport lounge: Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong – when I’m tired out from the amazing shopping, I get to have a proper meal, and I mean actually good, not just airport-adjusted good) before my flight.
Favorite U.S. airport: Raleigh Durham Airport. It may not hit a lot of destinations, but the security line is never an issue, it’s clean with numerous family bathrooms (a new concern of mine!), and there’s hardly ever any traffic getting there. I get to start each trip off stress-free!
Favorite international airport: Hong Kong – amazing shopping with better prices at the boutiques than in town, and fantastic food options.
Favorite hotel: The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, HK – exceptional, discreet service and fantastic modern rooms with a great location.
Do you unpack into the dresser/closet? Or live out of your suitcase? Unpack and organize everything. I’m neater on-the-road than I am at home.
Favorite cruise line: I’ve only been on one cruise, and it was not a great experience.
Favorite island: St. Barth’s. I’ve been there several times, including for my honeymoon, and aside from the gorgeous beaches and secluded nature of island itself, the food (it is a part of France, after all) and shopping are simply delightful.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Roppongi Seryna, Tokyo – the kani (crab) shabu shabu has been a favorite of mine for 3 decades now.
Favorite hole in the wall: Jimmy’s, Chicago. It was a favorite of mine in college, and it holds great memories.
Favorite fruit: Mango. I just had a nam doc mango that reaffirmed why this fruit is at the top of my list. Sweet, meaty, juicy, it brings a smile to my face when I eat it.
Favorite food: Taiwanese. This is the food of my family/ancestors, and it’s a bit of a sleeper among the Chinese cuisines. Salty, flavorful, with influences from other regional Chinese cuisines, as well as Hakka.
Least favorite food: I like all cuisines – there’s usually at least 1 or 2 dishes that suit my palate, but my least favorite would likely be Ethiopian. It’s a bit too tangy, in the fermented sense, for me.
Drink of choice (In the air and on the ground) : In the air, it’s always water (I’m all about hydrating for flights). On the ground, I’d say a lovely glass of red sancerre.
Favorite travel movie(s): Enchanted April. I love the scenery, the gentle pace of life, and the women’s reflections.
Favorite travel show(s): Spain: On the Road Again. My mouth waters every time I catch an episode.
Favorite travel book(s): The Purple Passport eBooks!
Right now I am reading: David Sanger’s Confront and Conceal. (I forgot my Kindle at home and had to snag a book from my husband when we went to the Caymans.)
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: Departures, HuffingtonPost Travel, and Eatori.com
Favorite travel website(s) – besides JohnnyJet.com, of course!: ThePurplePassport.com
Five things you bring on a plane: Big bottle of Fiji water, silk or pashmina scarf, lip balm, lotion, and a gossip magazine.
What do you always seem to forget: My old currency. I save my currency for when I go back and always forget to bring it when I do.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport duty free store? An Hermes scarf.
Favorite travel iPhone app(s): Skype. Video-calling my loved ones when I’m away to talk about our days keeps me happy.
Most embarrassing travel moment: Missing my flight to Venice for Biennale because I was shopping in the airport during a layover.
Worst travel moment: I was in Qinghai province in China, heading to the remote mountain village of Xiahe for a Tibetan Buddhism festival. On the 6-hour ride out there, we stopped at one “rest stop.” Enough said.
What’s your dream destination: The Great Barrier Reef for diving. I can only imagine how spectacular it would be.
Favorite travel charity: DonorsChoose.org. Teachers can ask for anything, including funds for travel-related projects, and I like being able to directly see how I can help.
Best travel tip: Be open-minded. When your travel plans don’t go the way you expected, know that you’ll be experiencing a new adventure regardless of what you had planned.