I’ve traveled almost every week in 2017 thus far with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. It’s what I do, I love it and like most frequent travelers all those miles don’t come without a few interesting experiences or stories. For some light reading I figured it would be fun to talk about a few things that have been memorable over the last few years, stuff that I never get to mention…

a man in a suit and tie

Best Airport Celebrity Encounter?

I’ve seen quite a few big names in the airport lately including Sting, James Franco, Rafael Nadal and a list of countless others. One of my favorite shows of all time however is Mad Men, and Roger from Mad Men whose real name is John Slattery was on a somewhat recent flight from London. I was waiting in the boarding line when I spotted him and we both saw some (rookie) passengers at the gate over almost miss their flight while staring at social media on their phones. I didn’t bother him or let him know I knew who he was, we just had a convo for a few minutes before the flight and after while waiting for bags; and much to my happiness he was exactly like his television character in real life, perhaps only better.

a city with a mountain in the background

Favorite City On Earth?

I can’t help but chuckle when people tell me that spending only a couple days in a city or destination is crazy. Frankly, I feel like most cities barely command two days of time to get a real feel and experience them at their best. Tokyo however is the one city I keep coming back to in mind and in practice. It’s immense, it offers so many different looks, so many unique elements and it’s retained it’s terroir more than any other place I’ve visited really, for a major city. It’s it’s own culture. The people obey the laws, everything is incredibly clean and more than anything the people just treat each other well. Plus, Bar High Five is like the coolest place on earth. Honorable mentions to Cape Town, San Francisco and Rio. And of course: New York, my place of birth.

a man holding flowers and a bag

Worst Travel Experience?

Definitely getting bashed at high speed by a runaway beverage cart on American Airlines. It hurt like hell, still bothers me and worst of all I played the situation like an idiot, minus getting to rib them publicly on television. I tried to be reasonable and hoped that as a journalist they’d try to treat me favorably and offer a generous apology, but I should’ve just flat out sued them. In speaking with insurance professionals after the fact I could (and should) have gotten quite a bit out of something with that severity, instead I played the nice guy and got played. I hate to say if anything which actually injures you happens, lawyer up, at least the airline will take you seriously. Virgin Atlantic did make it all better though

a woman standing at a table outside a building

Most Memorable Meal During Your Trips?

My wife and I ate at the Issaya Siamese Club in Bangkok, a restaurant started by Thai celebrity chef Ian Kittichai. Being Bangkok, the meals were not overly expensive and were absolutely delectable. I love spicy food but also love fine dining preparation and quality. The restaurant was a beautiful mix of the two. We had a flight a few hour later and it felt so good to have a few drinks, inventive preparations of classics we enjoy and just kick back before getting on a plane. Cool setting too. Second place goes to La Colombe in Cape Town. I also love the Modern in NYC. One of the other great experiences was definitely having a chef at our villa in Bali for just $60 per day, which covered four people. The freshest chicken satay and curries I’ve ever had. Magic.

a bridge over a river with a large building and a dome

Why Are We Seeing So Many Crazy Deals These Days?

It’s partly because of sites like mine and the countless other awesome sites that highlight these deals. There is such a large and reachable market now of people without plans to travel, but a desire to travel if the deal is right. Airlines know that if they leave a fare up for just a few hours or up to 48 hours that only the “enthusiasts” who read blogs like mine or follow the right places will get in on the deal, those people will talk about it and become loyal fans of the airline. Everyone else who isn’t actively engaged will pay ordinary price. In fact, almost everyone still pays much higher prices, we’re the minority here. We just help create the buzz.

a bed in an ice room

Any Places You Want To Explore More?

I grew up in New York so have always been used to harsh winters so for a while most of my travel desire has been to go somewhere, anywhere with weather the exact opposite. Lately however I’ve gotten fairly addicted to the harder to reach, remote and utterly fascinating lifestyles of those in the Arctic Circle and Antarctica. I’d love to do a few of the iconic places in each, a few of which are in a post I have done with the most inspired design hotels. The Kakslauttanen in Finland with Igloos looking up to the Northern Lights and the Ice Hotel in Sweden are just so extraordinary and are super high on the bucket list. We’ll see- when it’s time for a vacation, heat almost always seems to win!

a bed with a tv and a computer in the middle of a plane

Have A Favorite Airline?

For selfish reasons I love Qatar. They’ve tapped into my personal desires for travel, and the style which I aspire to fly. I somewhat let their ridiculously good business class deals dictate my travel plans, because really I’m happy to discover a new exciting place or use a cool place as a hopping off point and each time I feel that I’ve gotten incredible value for my money. On each trip their seats, service and airport facilities were fully on point. There’s something good about being an emerging player and attracting emerging talent (crew, ground staff) who are actually interested in travel.  I know a few flight attendants with Qatar now and they’re avid travelers themselves. I think it’s part of what makes the service so friendly and refined. Here’s my impression of their business class offering

Any other questions you’d like answered? Leave a comment and I’ll answer!

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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1 Comment

  1. Any good tips for a fine dining restaurant in Tokyo that won’t bankrupt? Happy to pay a decent amount but some of the prices I have seen are eyewatering! Going for honeymoon so be great to find somewhere that’s unique or romantic.

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