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: Yvonne Gordon
Occupation: Travel Writer
Hometown: Dublin, Ireland
College major: BA in English and Spanish literature; MA (first class hons) in Journalism
Short bio: Yvonne Gordon is an award-winning travel writer whose features have been in publications worldwide including The Irish Times, The Guardian, The Irish Mail on Sunday, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, Metro, The National, ShermansTravel.com and Greentraveller.co.uk. She co-wrote DK Eyewitness Travel—Back Roads Ireland (2010), is Ireland Expert for Afar.com and writes the website Holidaysonthewater.com.
Yvonne has explored remote islands in Burma, snorkeled in winter in Iceland’s Silfra Fissure, made pancakes with reindeer herders in the Arctic, trekked on camels in India’s Thar Desert, and stayed on a lighthouse on a rock in the Adriatic Sea. She has contributed to seven travel guidebooks and is currently writing her first book.
How often do you fly? A couple of times a month. I am an experienced sailor too so I love to travel in any type of boat, whether it’s a ship or a canoe, as it’s an amazing way to see parts of the world. When you see somewhere from the water, you get a different perspective, even on a well-known city.
How many countries have you been to? Around 35—it’s nicer to go back to places where there are interesting stories to write about rather than count countries. Of the eight countries I’ve been to in the last six months, six were repeat visits. Every time you go back to a country, you go down a new layer.
How many continents have you been to? Five.
Earliest travel memory: About age 7, packing but not knowing where we were going—my mother was in the travel business and we never found out the destination until we got to the airport. That time it was Greece. Those experiences instilled a love of adventure.
Favorite American city: San Francisco.
Favorite international city: Amsterdam is beautiful, the canals, the crooked houses, and the history. Berlin is pretty cool too, there is so much creative stuff going on.
Least favorite country: I don’t have one—I have liked something about every country I’ve ever been to, even if it was a challenge to travel there.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: I probably shouldn’t answer this one as I would like to come back to the US soon. So, pass.
Favorite World Heritage Site: The Vega Islands in Norway, an archipelago just below the Arctic Circle which still has ancient fishing and farming traditions. I sailed there—you can’t get there any other way, and it felt like one of the most remote places on earth. Especially when we ran the boat aground!
Favorite airline(s): Emirates and Etihad.
Favorite aircraft type: Big ones that don’t have open propellers.
Aisle or window: You mean seat? So passé—I’m going in The Residence, the private three-room suite with its own butler and chef on the new Etihad A380.
Best flight attendant you’ve ever had: Can I answer that after I’ve tried out the above butler?
Favorite airport lounge: Etihad in Abu Dhabi—I was lucky enough to get in when I got upgraded recently, and it even has a beauty spa.
Favorite U.S. airport: San Francisco SFO—I flew there recently on a new route and the plane was welcomed in with a champagne reception by the mayor so I might be biased. But it certainly seemed extremely friendly!
Favorite international airport: Schiphol.
Favorite hotel: Kakslauttanen in north Finland, above the Arctic Circle. It has glass-topped igloos in a forest in the snow, very romantic and ideal for the Northern Lights.
Favorite cruise line: Cruise lines aren’t really my thing, but I once went on the world’s biggest sailing ship (five masts and 42 sails) and that was pretty cool. They even let me have a go at the wheel! When the ship was docked…
Favorite island: Vis in Croatia or Swinton Island in southern Myanmar/Burma.
Favorite beach: Rossnowlagh in northwest Ireland, for winter surfing and long walks
Favorite fancy restaurant: I don’t really have one but afternoon tea in the Dorchester in London is pretty fancy. Waiters with white gloves pour Earl Grey tea from silver pots and serve mini scones with jam and cream and little cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off. It’s a great taste of how the other half lives – before going back to the hostel…
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: The Hole In The Wall pub, Dublin (which once served soldiers in Phoenix Park through a real hole in the wall!).
Favorite bar: Floridita, Old Havana, Cuba.
Favorite fruit: Really? Bananas—though we don’t travel well together. I usually forget they are in my bag and they emerge hours later, brown and squashed, have partially disgorged themselves over something like my laptop or camera. I’ve heard there are special travel containers for bananas, but it seems kind of anal to have one. (Does anyone know where I can get one?)
Favorite food: Pad Thai, and Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (not all together).
Least favorite food: Squashed banana.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Sparkling water (air), Guinness (ground).
Favorite travel movie(s): Il Postino, The Motorcycle Diaries.
Favorite travel show(s): An Idiot Abroad, Himalaya with Michael Palin.
Favorite travel book(s): “The Great Railway Bazaar,” “The Island That Dared,” “An Irreverent Curiosity.”
Right now I am reading: “The Snow Leopard” by Peter Matthiessen, “El Penco” by Ann McGlinn
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! Afar.com, TheGuardian.com/Travel and can I say Holidaysonthewater.com?
5 things you bring on a plane: Earplugs, eyeshade, a book, snacks and an interesting travel companion.
What do you always seem to forget? That interesting travel companions sometimes have their own agenda of things they want to see and do when you get to the destination. Or need lots of food.
What do you like least about travel? Remembering five things for the plane.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Something that we can drink together to toast the return
Most embarrassing travel moment: Getting locked in a restroom in Cyprus. The key malfunctioned and there was nobody around to let me out. My dining companions heard the knocking in the background but thought it was some sort of maintenance work, while simultaneously wondering to each other where I was.
Worst travel moment: Meeting a bear while skiing down Whistler Mountain in Canada.
What’s your dream destination? Pandora, the planet from Avatar.
Best travel tip: One of the best tips I have travelled to is the eastern tip of the Isle of Skye in Scotland, at Neist Point Lighthouse, one of the most beautiful pieces of coast in the world…
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