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: Lori Mayfield
Occupation: Freelance Travel/Parenting Writer + Advertising Copywriter
Hometown: Air Force brat: Ogden, Utah/Alconbury, England/Yuma, Arizona/Austin, Texas/Alexandria, Virginia/Stuttgart, Germany/Myrtle Beach, South Carolina/Dallas, Texas (all before graduating from high school)
Residence: Westminster, Colorado
College: University of Texas at Austin
College major: Advertising/Communications
Facebook: Lori Mayfield
Short bio: Lori recently launched Globetrottermom, a blog dedicated to parents who want to get out and explore more with their kids. There, you’ll find destination pieces, lodging and restaurant reviews, gear reviews and tips on getting the most out of your travels with kiddo(s) in tow. The blog also showcases re-edited favorite clips from Lori’s pre-parenthood adventure travel days.
Her travel writing has been published in The Los Angeles Times, The Dallas Morning News, Shape, Women’s Health & Fitness, divinecaroline.com, and JohnnyJet.com, and her story, “Scared Shitless on Safari” was Editor’s choice in the award-winning/bestseller Traveler’s Tales’ anthology “Sand in My Bra & Other Misadventures: Funny Women Write from the Road.”
In the parenting writing arena, Lori is published in Dallas Child, Dallas Baby and Thrive magazines as well as divinecaroline.com and JohnnyJet.com. Her estate-planning piece, “Where there’s a Will there’s a Way,” won the gold award for best feature in Parenting Publications of America.
By day, Lori is an award-winning freelance advertising copywriter and single mom to an 8-year-old fellow-adventure-traveler son, named Ames. As a family, they love to hike, ski, cycle, snowshoe—pretty much anything outdoorsy.
How often do you fly? Not often enough of late. After a decade of living in Los Angeles in a rent-controlled apartment in Bel Air and having a child on my own, I relocated to a destination outdoorsy place (Colorado) and poured all of my savings into buying my first house. (#housepoor).
How many countries have you been to? 24
How many continents have you been to? 6
Earliest travel memory: Stationed near Cambridge, England at age three-and-a-half, I have some snapshot memories from when my parents took my older brother and me by train into London to the zoo and to see the Christmas lights at night. The three years prior, I hadn’t ventured far from the tiny world of our military base. It was a simple daytrip but leaving the tiny familiar world of our cul-de-sac on a train into a big city left quite an impression. I remember going up and down the steps of shops in row-house-type buildings into a record shop and being taken with adults (hippies) who looked very different than the clean-cut adults I was used to seeing on base.
I’ve traveled to London and Alconbury as an adult, and was struck by vague déjà vu memories flooding back in a dream-like quality. They say smell is the most deeply rooted memory sense. Rain can stir up the wet grass/earth unique to each place in the world. Without photos to jog my memory, I knew when we rounded a corner on base, there would be the playground at the end of my street. It was the same playground equipment with the giraffe swing set and merry-go-round and on one side, the hedgerow we’d crawl through to play ring-around-the-Rosie in an open field. We had a housekeeper there named Rose who would serve me strong black tea loaded with scoops and scoops of sugar from as early as I could steady a cup on my own.
Favorite American city: San Francisco (love the sounds of streetcars, the food, the funky shops, Muir Woods, the writing community).
Favorite international city: Queenstown, New Zealand (The headquarters of bungee jumping and hotbed of fellow adventure sports enthusiasts. Bungee jumped 5x in a 24-hr period there and was on an epic endorphin buzz.).
Least favorite country: India. I came. I saw. Brought home the keepsake parasite. Glad I went. Otherworldly. A must-see. Like going back centuries in time. But difficult to travel as a woman solo without being harassed incessantly. The driving is death-defyingly nuts with no lanes (if I recall correctly or if they were painted on, completely ignored) and constant honking—horns are used as blinkers as if to say, “Hear that, it’s me passing you,” and blinkers are used to say, “Pass me now on this side or that side,” while a gazillion sacred cows and peacocks (also given holy reverence) roam about the highways. And by highway I mean a road that might be paved, with vehicles (usually old 1950s Ambassador cars sans seatbelts) traveling at highway speeds weaving in and out willy nilly.
I have no desire to go to: I started to list Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea and Syria but then noticed the irony of my next answer. So perhaps years from now, should circumstances improve?
Friendliest people in the world: South Vietnam. Cycled there with Backroads, who make traveling extra magical. Everywhere we went in even the most remote areas of the Mekong Delta, kids came running out when we’d cycle past, “Hello, how are you? What your name?” genuinely delighted to see us. When we would answer back they’d collapse in giggles not seeming to know any more English. In Saigon, adults would stop me on the street and ask where I was from. Seemed like everyone had a relative living in the US.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: India. Though less specifically the immigration officers and more the airport scene in general. No such thing as chivalry with holding doors open or helping with bags. Elbowed out of the way to board planes or trains. Every man for himself. To hell with a woman traveling solo who could use a hand. Flights constantly grounded or rerouted due to smog which is so commonplace airport personnel seem apathetic to the inconvenience imposed on travelers.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Ha Long Bay, Vietnam.
Favorite airline: Cathay Pacific.
Favorite aircraft type: A380 (only read about, but dream of flying on one).
Aisle or window: Window (but since it keeps my son entertained, I prefer aisle on a two-seat configuration on one side) and something with leg room.
Favorite airport lounge: Cathay Pacific Hong Kong’s Business class lounge (Complete with hot showers with attendants offering warm towels. An absolute godsend after a transcontinental flight.)
Favorite U.S. airport: Denver International, DIA. Yes, when you take off or return you have to walk a good 5K to get from airplane to outside but the white-peaked rooftops that look like snow peaks are so atypical of an airport structure.
Favorite international airport: Geneva. It’s clean, easy to navigate. Traveling solo it wasn’t difficult to figure out how to hop the train to Chamonix where I began my trek of the Tour du Mont Blanc.
Favorite hotel: Ana Mandara Resort & Spa Nha Trang, Vietnam (bathtub toiletries include a sachet of herbs to recover from jetlag) and absolute luxury suites complete with dreamy canopy beds with sheer mosquito netting.
Favorite cruise line: As a copywriter, I’ve written TV spots for Princess and the European brochure for Cunard but I’ve never actually been on a cruise. I love the water and dream about taking my son on a Lindblad’s National Geographic Endeavour or Mt Travel Sobek’s small cruises to Panama, the Galapagos Islands or perhaps Wildland Adventures yacht cruises.
Favorite travel credit card: For the longest time it was Citibank and its miles partner American. Now that I live in Denver, I need to get a United credit card. Bank of America’s mileage program (no annual fee, no blackout dates and you can redeem miles on any airline has not turned out to be as attractive as it sounds). The catch is when you redeem miles (say 25K for a domestic ticket) you can only use them on the cheapest flight available, which typically translates to three transfers and red-eyes so you’re forced to pay extra for a decent hour of the day.
Favorite island: Qamea, Fiji (From my pre-mommy days. They don’t allow kids.). The search is on for a kid-friendly one!
Favorite beach: Cayman Islands, Turks & Caicos beaches.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Erna’s Elderberry House at the Chateau du Sureau (20 minutes outside of Yosemite).
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Sea Breeze Fish Market & Grill in Plano, TX or Juanita’s Taco Shop in Encinitas, CA. (Sea Breeze might be offended to be called a hole in the wall but definitely upscale food in a strip mall setting from fish flown in daily by their amazing fish monger.) And Jaunitas is definitely a “get your food and go” type place but rolled tacos. Not tacquitos. Tacos. The way I grew up eating tacos with roast beef, not ground!
Favorite bar: Lindt Chocolate.
Favorite fruit: Mango.
Favorite food: Farm-to-table fare or fresh seafood (including sashimi).
Least favorite food: Lamb (my downstairs landlords in Los Angeles cooked it once a week and when I was pregnant I had such an aversion to the smell, I’d have to vacate the premises). To contradict myself, I have, to my surprise had lamb at a Greek fest slow-roasted over an open pit which was tasty. Anything in the weird category like pickled goat gonads or rattlesnake tartar. For that reason I can’t try out for The Amazing Race. I’d be sent home on the eat-weird-stuff leg of the race.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Good old H2O. Ground: Pellegrino. Air: Voss (In fact, wouldn’t that make a great Duty Free shop? H2O, where all they sell is bottled water of varying sorts because you can’t bring water with you through TSA? I always buy a liter before I board a plane.). I also love tea (thanks to Rose, my childhood babysitter in England). Lapsang souchong is my fav in winter because a) It’s fun to say and b) It smells like ashes from a warm toasty fire.
Favorite travel movie(s): Under the Tuscan Sun, purely for the scenery. Eat, Pray, Love. Out of Africa. Amelie. Any National Lampoon Vacation movie because it reminds me of the many family road trips of my youth.
Favorite travel show(s): Anthony Bourdain’s is sometimes interesting but not many places I’d take my 8-year-old. We need a good mommy n’ me travel show featuring adventure travel, cultural immersion and other non-touristy stuff. (My dream job would be to host one.)
Favorite travel book(s): On previous month-long+ adventure trips I’ve taken, I often like to choose a book based on where I’m traveling. “Me Talk Pretty One Day” and “A Year in Provence” while on a rotary business/cultural exchange in the Dordogne area followed by a roadtrip around the French Riviera with a friend. I love travel anthologies too. “The Kindness of Strangers” was a terrific anthology post-9/11 that renews the human spirit. “Paris Letters” by my friend, Janice MacLeod (who ditched her career in advertising to move to Paris).
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: Fodor’s, Frommer’s, Lonely Planet/Travel + Leisure, National Geographic Travel/familyadventureproject.org, jetlagandmayhem.com, travelfoodfamily.com, bohemiantravelers.com, and travelwithbender.com.
5 things you bring on a plane: Neck pillow (I have a giraffe neck and am prone to cricks), Clorox wipes (germaphobe), good read, liter of water (best defense against jetlag), in-flight underwear (See, women don’t have a boxer shorts like option. I know this sounds strange, but on transcontinental flights I prefer panties with elastic that isn’t too tight. No one markets underwear as such—YET anyway. Hmnnn, perhaps that will be my fortune…).
What do you always seem to forget? One sock kicked off under the covers (this must be where they end up, no?).
What do you like least about travel? The cost and jetlag. (Though I could manage jetlag if cost weren’t such an obstacle).
Favorite travel app(s): Google Maps, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Mom Maps, GateGuru.
Most embarrassing travel moment: My earliest embarrassing moment (of the many that would follow me throughout my life) was while stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, where we’d had our 1967 Buick Wildcat (back when American cars were massive) shipped over. We took a family roadtrip to the beach town of Rimini, Italy. We were lost (for the umpteenth time) when my dad got our car stuck winding up these steep, narrow, cobblestoned streets in God only knows where. I remember my dad trying to then back the car up, (wheels on either side riding both sides of the sidewalk)…Italians pouring out onto the street, gawking, snickering, motioning for others to come see the Americans in their big giant gas-hog trying to get out of this snag. My two brothers and I were in the backseat trying to slump down, mortified as other drivers (unable to pass) were all laying on their horns, stepping out of their tiny cars, waving arms, cursing in Italian. It was all very National Lampoon’s European Vacation-esque.
I’m embarrassed but I haven’t been to: Hawaii.
Worst travel moment: Food poisoning in Vietnam. After my couple of weeks there with Backroads (who would have come to my aid and known what to do), I piggybacked a solo trip extension with guides I found on my own. I was in a remote area just north of the former DMZ, smack in the middle of Vietnam. Guidebooks suggest if you find yourself in such conditions to immediately get yourself to Saigon or Hanoi (5+ hours to either by car and no airport nearby). I’d grown so comfortable and carefree by this stage of my trip, I didn’t have my guide’s phone number. I was so violently ill, the front desk of the hotel sent a doctor to my room. He spoke little English and I knew about 10 words of Vietnamese. I read his Rx after he left. Illegible except the last line which read, “After vomiting/diarrhea stop, drink fish soup.” Fish soup?! I erupted again at the thought. I was certain I was going to die. It was the eve I was to go into an even more remote area of North Vietnam to visit where my Dad’s plane was shot down and he was rescued during the Vietnam War. I was fixated on the irony that my dad had gotten out of this area alive during a war but some 30 years later I was about to die here of food poisoning. Huddled in fetal position, feverish, I thought, my mom will kill me if I die here. I somehow made it through the night. For the remainder of my time in Vietnam I don’t think I ate another meal but was thankful for the former French occupation because baguettes were readily available on every corner throughout the entire country. All I could manage to nibble on for the next week were little pinches of cottony soft centers of baguettes and sips of 7-Up.
What’s your dream destination? My favorite travels before mommyhood were on multisport/cultural trips with adventure outfitters like Backroads, REI Adventures, Mountain Travel Sobek, Wilderness Travel, Butterfield & Robinson. My son has just reached the age I can take him on their family trips and can’t wait! I’ve also read good things about: Outbackencounter, Southern Explorations and Tuitai. Top of the bucket list: Amalfi Coast, Maui, Galapagos Islands, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Bali, Ireland.
Favorite travel charity: Untours Foundation.
Best travel tip: When traveling with young kids, bring something new to entertain them—one item per hour of a flight or car trip. It doesn’t have to be spendy. When my son was ages 2-5, I’d bring Play-Doh, a sticker book, “magic painting” with water book, peel n’ stick foam art. These days, origami, Puzzle Buzz, Mathmania workbooks, books, rubics cube. Small travel game. I’m not a big fan of electronics to entertain my child. (30 min/day and it’s the first privilege to go for misbehavior). For car travel, we do audio books from the library. For a while we used to buy a scenic puzzle of wherever we traveled to or a special children’s book of an area or on by a local author. And under age two, cloth books because they’re squishy and lightweight and my Hooter Hider (aka nursing cover). It helped with cabin pressure on tiny ears (those with big ears didn’t have to listen to him scream in pain), filled his tummy so he would sleep. Kids under age two fly free so another perk was I’d get both armrests by strangers sitting on either side who were uncomfortable with a woman nursing in public. ;-)
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