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: Yannis Moati
Occupation: Co Founder, CEO of HotelsByDay.com
Residence: New York City
College: Northeastern University
College major: International Business
Facebook: Hotels By Day
Google Plus: HotelsByDay
Short bio: Born in Tunisia to European parents, Yannis was interested in travel from a young age. After studying in Boston, Yannis co-founded an exotic travel company, then managed a New York-based global tour operations company. In Europe, Yannis came across the concept boosting hotel revenues by selling uncommitted inventory for the day. Combining the idea with the growing sharing economy in the US, Yannis gathered some of the hospitality industry’s brightest to form HotelsByDay.
How often do you fly? I find myself in the air at least once a month. Travelling is part of who I am. Born into different cultures, at a young age I had to always travel to meet parents living in different countries/continents. Which is part of the reason why I am so passionate about the service that I have cofounded, HotelsByDay.
How many countries have you been to: I’ve lost count, but upwards of 18. I have been travelling since I was a child and have lived in many major cities including, but not limited to: Tunis, Rome, Paris, Boston, Milan, Madrid, Guadalajara (MX), and Havana.
How many continents have you been to? I have been to five continents.
Earliest travel memory: My earliest travel memory would be when I was trekking the mountains of Switzerland, accompanied by my mother & her best friends. Raised in Tunisia where sea and sand primed, the Swiss mountainous vegetation was amazing, fascinating, captivating. And so was its cheese…
Favorite American city: New York. Can’t beat it anywhere in the world.
Favorite international city: Madrid. The combination of easy living, terrace & café lifestyle, great food (tapas), nice & caring people. Mixed with centuries of tradition & culture. All of it form a fascinating city. Oh! And did I mention architecture & fashion? Loved my two years there.
Least favorite country: I have enjoyed most everyone that I have been to. But if I had to pick a place that I wouldn’t go back to, I would say Caracas—Venezuela. Didn’t enjoy that experience.
I have no desire to go to: Iraq?
Friendliest people in the world: I would say Thai. But Argentinians come very close. Did you know that Argentina has a national day celebrating friends/friendship? I have some of the tightest bonds with Argentinians.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: In and out of airports in Morocco was where I was the most uncomfortable going through customs.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Dougga—an ancient Roman city one-hour south of Tunis. The city was deserted at the fall of the Roman Empire to the hands of Vandals. 2000 years later, you can walk the streets of this ancient city and feel the pulse of ancient Roman life. Similar to Pompeii.
Favorite airline: Air France has consistently been an easy airline to travel with.
Favorite aircraft type: Airbus A380.
Aisle or window: Window.
Favorite airport lounge: Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at JFK.
Favorite US airport: Since I currently reside in New York, I have to say JFK just because I am in and out of it the most and it is very easy to navigate.
Favorite international airport: Dubai International Airport.
Favorite hotel: The Venetian in Las Vegas. While the city is fun, the hotel had everything you could possibly need so it was almost unnecessary to ever walk outside.
Favorite cruise line: I really enjoyed a trip I took with Royal Caribbean International in the mid-2000s.
Favorite travel credit card: Chase Sapphire offers a lot of benefits including extensive airline miles, which are very useful when you are a consistent traveler.
Favorite beach: Sidi Ifni beach in Morocco. It is fairly untouched by tourists still, but it has these extraordinary natural made structures.
Favorite island: Okinawa in Japan was one of the most incredible places I’ve ever been. It was not just beautiful aesthetically, but the overflowing culture that revolved around self-sustainability and community was unforgettable.
Favorite fancy restaurant: L’Ecole, it’s a lovely French restaurant located in New York.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Llantwit Major in Wales. I stumbled upon it by accident and don’t think I’ll ever find myself there again, but it was very beautiful and quaint.
Favorite bar: Jacob’s Ladder, Paris.
Favorite fruit: Mangos.
Favorite food: I love most food, but I really love simple pasta with tomato and basil sauce.
Least favorite food: I don’t like Marmite.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Coffee is always first choice regardless of altitude. Then Whisky. Dry.
Favorite travel movie: I recently watched 180º South, which is a very interesting documentary regarding the current state of Patagonia.
Favorite travel show: I know it’s cliché, but you can’t go wrong with Anthony Bourdain.
Favorite travel book: “The Crossing” by Samar Yazbek is a very captivating read that shines light the current state of Syria.
Right now I’m reading: “The Great Leader” and “The Fighter Pilot” by Blaine Harden, which is a fascinating read about North Korea through true stories from opposite sides of the social spectrum with a pilot in the North Korean army and Kim’s takeover.
Favorite travel websites: Time Out and TripAdvisor are all the first two places I go when I am planning a trip and organizing my itinerary.
5 things you bring on a plane: I always bring my laptop, toothbrush, headphones, passport, ear plugs.
What do you always seem to forget? A pen.
What do you like least about travel? Jetlag & exhaustion.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Whiskey & chocolate are two favorites.
Favorite travel app: Besides HotelsByDay? Kayak is very user-friendly when I am trying to get estimates and book flights.
Most embarrassing travel moment: Waiting for my flight at the wrong gate and I ended up missing it and had to wait over four hours.
I’m embarrassed I haven’t been to: China, though being that my wife’s family is from Beijing it is definitely somewhere I plan on going in the near future
Worst travel moment: My worst travel moment was by far being stuck in Moscow for almost 24 hours without a bed or even decent reading material when an already long layover got delayed.
What’s your dream destination? Seychelles.
Favorite travel charity: It’s hard to choose one, but I am a big supporter of the non-profit Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa, which promotes sustainable tourism development
Best travel tip: Pack light because you’ll often end up with more than you started with.
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