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Megan Snedden
Megan Snedden

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: Megan Snedden 

Occupation: Travel Blogger at HeyWanderWoman & Founder at The Kind Effect 

Hometown: Riverside, CA

Residence: The world (I’m a nomad, so I move around a lot)

College: UC Santa Barbara

College major: Global Studies and Professional Writing

Website: HeyWanderWoman.com & TheKindEffect.com

Twitter: @MeganSnedden & @KindEffect 

Facebook: Megan Snedden & The Kind Effect

Instagram: megansnedden & @Kind_Effect

Pinterest: Wander Woman

YouTube: Megan Snedden

Short bio: Travel photographer, blogger and do-gooder Megan Snedden travels the globe in search of opportunities to give back and uplift strangers with the joy of kindness. Once upon a time she was a journalist for media outlets like BBC, International Business Times and USA TODAY. Now she uses her storytelling skills to share heartfelt tales on her travel blog and through her organization, the Kind Effect.

How often do you fly? As often as I can, but typically I’ll settle down in one place for a few months. Then once I start to go crazy, I’ll suddenly go on a zillion trips. I also keep my eyes on cheap flight deals for spontaneous adventures.

How many countries have you been to? Thirty-six and counting!

How many continents have you been to? Six, I’m just missing Antarctica.

Earliest travel memory: I remember flying with my parents for the first time when I was 14-years old. In LAX airport, I had this strong gut feeling I’d spend my life going on adventures, though my family wasn’t big into traveling. I loved the ecstatic energy of all the travelers rushing in all directions, and when I saw the list of flights departing for far-flung places around the world I heard a voice inside me say, “I could really do this on my own one day.”

Favorite American city: Santa Barbara, California. My soul just feels at ease there. It’s also where I went to college.

Favorite international city: Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Least favorite country: Morocco. It’s beautiful, but I felt unsafe there as a solo female traveler.

I have no desire to go to: Mars, planet Earth is pretty spectacular. Plus the whole one-way-only ticket thing and living forever in a cubicle with strangers just doesn’t do it for me.

Friendliest people in the world: Latinos across the board. I always feel embraced and welcome as family when visiting Spanish-speaking countries.

Country with the meanest immigration officers: If Texas were a country, I’d say that. I actually avoid passing through Dallas and Houston if I can.

Favorite World Heritage Site: I’m obsessed with the Great Barrier Reef. I’ve been there three times to different sections of it, and I can’t wait to go back.

Favorite airline: Austrian Airlines. The butter they give you to put on their rolls is pure bliss. Plus, I love the singsong sound of German.

Favorite aircraft type: I’m not so picky when it comes to commercial airlines, but I do love me a small aircraft. The fewer the seats the better! I recently went skydiving out of a two-seat plane. It was such a rush.

Aisle or window: Aisle for short flights so I can walk around and window for long-haul flights so I can sleep easier by leaning on the wall.

Favorite airport lounge: I don’t spend much time in lounges, probably because I am one of those people who cuts airport arrival times as close as possible. I really should get there earlier. Being overly optimistic sometimes gets me in trouble.

Favorite U.S. airport: Santa Barbara, it’s beautiful, super tiny, and the views from the airplane window are next level.

Favorite international airport: I love the Amsterdam airport, mainly because there are little shops offering free samples of delicious Dutch cheeses.

Favorite hotel: Hotel La Semilla in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. It’s tucked away in the trees down a quiet street, but it’s still in the center of town. The hotel staff is warm and welcoming, they make you feel like you’re at home. Also, their breakfast features some of my local favorites like chilaquiles.

Favorite cruise line: I’ve only ever been on Carnival and Norwegian, but they were both great for different reasons. I’d love to go on a river cruise.

Favorite travel credit card: Chase Sapphire. 

Favorite island: This is a tough one because I love islands. I’d have to say Fiji: each of the islands is so unique, but the people are consistently amazing.

Favorite beach: Flamenco Beach on Culebra Island in Puerto Rico. I camped right on the beach then woke up to an epic sunrise. 

Favorite National Park: Yosemite. It has a lot of sentimental value to me since I grew up going there with my family.

Favorite fancy restaurant: One time, I took a sunrise hot air balloon ride to brunch in the middle of the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. I’m not sure a meal could get more incredible than that.

Favorite hole-in-the-wall: It’s not much for ambiance, but in the basement of Maya Mall in Chiang Mai, Thailand, there’s a bustling food court with delicious, very cheap noodles and khao soi.

Favorite airport restaurant: Pretty much any soup dumpling place you come across at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei is great.

Favorite bar: Hands down Apotheke Cocktail Bar in New York City. It’s hidden away in a very shady section of Chinatown, and once you step inside it’s like teleporting to the 1920s. Their bartenders wear lab coats and somehow they cram a live jazz band in there. Everyone dances though the space is small.

Favorite fruit: Mangosteens. I feel in love with them in Indonesia.

Favorite food: Mexican food will always have my heart. I always miss it when I’m traveling in countries where chefs think mixing cinnamon with bell pepper is salsa.

Least favorite food: Durian fruit, yuck. I once tried a durian fruit Blizzard from a Dairy Queen in Thailand. It was probably one of the worst decisions I’ve made.

Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): If I can get my hands on free red wine while in the air I will gladly take it. While on the ground, I love grabbing a craft beer, preferably a stout.

Favorite travel movie(s): I’ve seen Under the Tuscan Sun a million times and it always makes me happy.

Favorite travel show(s): No Reservations; RIP Anthony Bourdain.

Favorite travel podcast(s): “Coffee Break Spanish” has an en marcha series where the host travels to different destinations to talk in Spanish with locals. I also love Duolingo’s Spanish podcast, the storytelling is fantastic.

Favorite travel book(s): “Love with a Chance of Drowning” by Torre DeRoche was a great read as was “Shantaram” by Gregory David Roberts.

Right now I am reading: Torre DeRoche’s new book called “The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World.” I’m also looking forward to Elizabeth Gilbert’s “City of Girls.”

Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: I’ve gotten some great fares from Scott’s Cheap Flights newsletter. I’ve been researching Spain a lot, and I came across Spanish Sabores, which is fun and insightful. I know it’s not necessarily travel-themed, but I love the Wait By Why newsletter; I’ll stock up on reads for long flights. It keeps me entertained.

Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! I’m obsessed with Workaway at the moment, so I spend a lot of time on there scrolling dreamy volunteer listings. Beyond that, I’ll always be a diehard National Geographic fan.

5 things you bring on a plane: Essential oil, inflatable neck pillow, fluffy socks, sleeping pills, and lotion. Simple creature comforts help me get through waiting to arrive to my destination.

What do you always seem to forget? What Americans are like. Then when I get home I’m reminded, “oh yeah..we’re like that.”

What do you like least about travel? Getting sick and feeling tired. Jetlag always gets the best of me. If I had a superpower it would be the ability to show up anywhere feeling fresh.

What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? I just Googled, “what do they sell at Duty Free.” Being a minimalist I beeline past Duty Free because it looks hectic. They can give me a hug instead! I can never get enough of those.

Favorite travel app(s): XE Currency Converter, Bla Bla Car for cheap rides in Europe, CameraConnect from Canon to view my photos wirelessly, and Been to keep track of where I’ve gone.

Most embarrassing travel moment: When I was in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I got a job at a restaurant to make extra cash to keep traveling and to practice my Spanish. When my new boss asked how I liked working there, I wanted to say he inspired me to work hard because I felt comfortable, but instead I accidentally said something…really inappropriate. It made him turn bright red. Then, he burst out laughing before very kindly correcting me and explaining what I said. I felt humiliated, but I never made that language error again.

I’m embarrassed I haven’t been to: More states. By now, I have visited more countries than I have states.

Worst travel moment: Haha, I can laugh now, however this wasn’t funny then. I was doing a volunteer work exchange on a farm in the Basque Country and the conditions were pretty bad. They set up a mattress pad for me to sleep on across the hallway floor and gave me flea-infested blankets. Since I was staying in an old medieval building (which was pretty cool) the church clock tower was right outside my window. A deafening bell tolled every 15 minutes day and night. I think I could still hear that bell in my mind for weeks after I left. Also, one day my job was to shovel loads of horse poo out of the back of a van then lug it over to a plot as fertilizer. That was pretty hard work after a very sleepless and itchy night.

What’s your dream destination? I don’t want to be that cliché traveler who says everywhere, so instead I’ll say Malta, the country of Georgia, Andorra, and Liechtenstein are all on my list. I like the idea of going unique places in Europe.

Favorite travel charity: If I can make a selfish plug, I’d say the Kind Effect. I travel the world doing good deeds in the places I visit because I think the world needs more kindness.

Best travel tip: Apparently if you put flea-ridden blankets in the freezer it kills the fleas…which is how all my blankets at that farm in the Basque County ended up in the freezer.

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see my friend and fellow traveler Justin Walter answer these same questions.

 

Johnny Jet

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