Meet The Culture-ist's Maria Russo
Maria lounging at The Chedi in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Hometown: Princeton, New Jersey.
Favorite destinations: South Africa, Guatemala, and Thailand.
Dying to visit: Bali.
Bizarre travel rituals: I pack in a way that I can remember where everything is, so if I take something from a bag I make sure I put it back exactly where I got it.
In-flight relaxation regime: Read, watch a movie or two (if it's a long flight), and then slide on my eye mask and doze for as long as I can.
Always in carry-on: Eco-Lips organic coconut-ginger lip balm and a pair of thick fuzzy socks.
Concierge or DIY? It depends on my mood.
See it all or take it easy? See it all.
Drive or be driven? Be driven. I have a pathetic sense of direction.
Travel hero: My great-grandfather. He traveled back and forth from Italy to the United States by ship just so my family could eventually make their home in America.
Weirdest thing seen on travels: A mosque cloaked in neon flashing lights at a rest stop in Turkey.
Best hotel amenity: A fully functioning hair dryer.
I dream about my meal at a tiny, family-run B&B located on a hilltop in Cappadocia, Turkey.
Everywhere I go, I check out the cafes.
When I arrive in a new place, I learn the lay of the land by going on a walking tour of local neighborhoods and attractions.
I always bring home chocolate or some kind of sweet dessert typically eaten in the country.
I travel for the raw experiences.