Travel Style: Lavanya Sunkara

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.

Lavanya Sunkara

Lavanya Sunkara

Name: Lavanya Sunkara

Occupation: Editor and Travel Writer

Hometown: I grew up in Garividi, a teeny tiny town in Southern India.

Residence: New York

Website: naturetravelwriter.com

Twitter: @LavanyaSun

Facebook: /lavanyasun

Short Bio: I am the Senior Editor for Jeff Corwin’s Explorer Series: Sharks eBook. I freelance for national and international publications covering wildlife conservation, animal rescue, eco-travel, and off the beaten path adventures. I wrote a weekly column on NBC’s Petside.com for two years, and my work has appeared in The New York Times, MSN, Yahoo!, GQ, TimeOut, and Everydog. I am currently working on a travel adventure novel with a focus on animal welfare.

How often do you fly: Once every two months, whenever I can take time off from my day job.

How many countries have you been to: Only 14 so far. I tend to travel within countries as opposed to getting more pages stamped in my passport.

How many continents have you been to: 5

Favorite American city: New York City

Favorite international city: Antigua, Guatemala. Rome is a close second.  

Least favorite country: China

Favorite World Heritage Site: Yosemite National Park. John Muir was once quoted saying of Yosemite: “It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of nature I was ever permitted to enter.” Been there three times, and will go back 30 more times.

Favorite aircraft type: Puddle jumpers. They may be a bit scary, but you get awesome views.

Aisle or window: Aisle so I can get up and walk around anytime I feel like it.

Favorite airport lounge: Not at that level yet.

Favorite U.S. airport: JFK, an easy train ride from home.

Favorite hotel:  Haven’t stayed there yet, but I know I will love Amangani, overlooking the Grand Teton mountain range.

Do you unpack into the dresser/closet? Or live out of your suitcase? Dresser/closet if I am staying more than a couple of days

Favorite cruise line: Ecoventura in the Galápagos Islands. I like environmentally friendly small ship cruises.

Favorite island: Hands down, Zanzibar is the best island I’ve ever visited. Never have I seen more beautiful palm fringed beaches and lovely sunrises before I landed in Nungwi on the northern tip of the island.

Favorite beach: Cerro Brujo beach in San Cristobal, Galápagos Islands. Nothing beats hanging out with sun-bathing sea lions on a white sandy beach.

Favorite fancy restaurant: Manolo Caracol in Casco Viejo, Panama.

Favorite hole in the wall: Tecpan Coffee Shop in Tecpan, Guatemala. Best coffee I’ve had in Central America.

Favorite fruit: Papaya when I am in tropical countries. Apple at home in the Big Apple.

Favorite food: My mom’s Indian cooking.

Drink of choice (In the air and on the ground): Tea in the air and Cosmo on the ground.  

Favorite travel movie(s): I love movies like “Out of Africa,” and “Australia” because one day I want to live in the middle of nowhere on a farm with my family, and that includes animals.

Favorite travel show(s): Going Wild with Jeff Corwin, The Jeff Corwin Experience, and Ocean Mysteries. Basically, anything with Jeff.

Favorite travel book(s): No. 1 Ladies Detective Series by Alexander McCall Smith set in Botswana.

Right now I am reading: Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert.  

Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: AFAR, Outside, and National Geographic.

Favorite travel website(s) – besides JohnnyJet.com, of course!: CentroYSur.com and Sologirltravel.com.

Five things you bring on a plane: My Klean Kanteen water bottle, books, scarf, anxiety meds (still get jitters on the plane), and iPad with keyboard to take notes.

What do you always seem to forget: An extra sweater/hoodie.

What do you like least about travel? Being away from my dog.

What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport duty free store? Perfume

Favorite travel app(s): Skype so I can be in touch with family.

Worst travel moment: Being on a volunteer trip in rural Mexico and sharing a small room with two others, and all of us suffering from food poisoning. For an entire week. With no running water.

What’s your dream destination: Right now, it’s Western Australia. I want to hug thousand year old boab trees in Kimberley, and swim with whale sharks in Ningaloo Reef on the Coral Coast.

Favorite travel charity: Share Tours Guatemala, a culture and experience exchange program that works with local organizations in rural communities to help kids, farmers, and women. I traveled with Share Tours to volunteer at a new school and had an unforgettable experience.

Best travel tip: Don’t be afraid to do something that scares you. When I was in the Galápagos, I had no intention of snorkeling. I never tried it before and I am afraid of being in the open ocean. But when we got to Devil’s Crown, an extinct, collapsed underwater volcanic cone off the coast of Floreana Island that attracts divers from all over the world for its exotic marine life, I got over my anxiety and jumped into the waters. I had help of course, and what was underwater was nothing short of magical. I saw giant sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, and even a few white-tip reef sharks. By far, it was my best travel experience.

Johnny Jet

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About the Author

Johnny Jet

I used to be afraid to fly and at times even leave the house! I conquered my fear (long story) and now I travel to 20+ countries a year sharing my firsthand knowledge, tips and deals with friends, family and readers. Please sign up to our free newsletters and tell your friends!

7 Comments on "Travel Style: Lavanya Sunkara"

  1. Today’s traveler tale was quite interesting. I have liked them all — except one from the other
    day.

  2. Great profile, Lavanya! So glad we got to share our Galapagos adventures together last year!

  3. Lavanya, I can’t wait to read about your next adventure! I love your focus on animal well-being.

  4. How exotic that you grew up in India! This is a really interesting profile. I admire you for snorkeling even though you were scared. I couldn’t do it on my last trip. I think the movie Jaws effected me a lot as a kid!

  5. Awesome, Lavanya!! I consider myself very lucky to have swam with you around Devil’s Crown. It was quite intimidating knowing their were sharks underneath of us, but it was an absolutely magical once-in-a-lifetime experience!! Cheers to all of your wonderful travel successes!

  6. How exciting! These are fantastic tips from an inspiring person. I can’t wait until you go to Western Australia so I can read about it.

  7. Great travel tips..I want that coffee!

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