Hometown: Born in Chicago, now a diehard New Yorker.
Occupation: Still trying to figure that out.
Favorite destinations: Africa, India, Mexico, Hawaii, Mnemba Island. Also, anyplace in the American West with a two-lane road, a big sky, homemade jerky, and a good country music station.
Dying to visit: Cuba, Sri Lanka, Easter Island, Pompeii, Montana, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Argentina, Fogo Island, anyplace in Spain, Africa, or India (especially Kerala), Beirut, and the Middle East in general (after it calms down a bit), more of Egypt, plus, Syria, Iran ... I could go on and on.
Bizarre travel rituals: When in a fancy hotel, I always send myself a note on their stationery telling myself how lucky I am.
In-flight relaxation regime: Earplugs + sleep mask + neck thingie + Tafil + window seat.
Always in carry-on: All of the above, plus laptop and extra battery, Kindle, toothpaste and toothbrush, socks, wipes, raw cashews, and my Smythson journal.
Concierge or DIY? A combination of both. You have to do research first so you can ask the right questions of the concierge.
See it all or take it easy? Research it all before you go, create rough itinerary, see where the journey takes you once you land.
Drive or be driven? Ideally, walk. In the US, I drive. In other countries, especially those I haven't visited, I don't mind someone else driving — that way I can take it all in without having to worry if I'm on the right side of the road.
Travel hero: Dead: Osa Johnson, author of I Married Adventure, published in 1940. That woman, who hailed from Kansas, of all places, traveled with her husband (photographer Martin Johnson) documenting lands (Borneo, the Congo) that many Westerners had never set foot in. She predated Joy Adamson, Margaret Mead, etc. Never had kids but did have major balls! Alive: My friend Zac Assemakis. He's been to more out-of-the-way crazy places in the name of getting a story than anyone I personally know and somehow is still alive with all his limbs intact. He also makes really beautiful documentary films. This past summer, I worked with him on one about surfing in Alaska.
Weirdest thing seen on travels: The "food" served on local Chinese airlines.
Best hotel amenity: Mosquito net.
I dream about two favorite meals: Deluxe: I was one of 200 lucky people at a dinner hosted by Perrier Jouët Champagne in a fresco-covered room in the Grand Opera House in Paris. Over-the-top fabulous Michelin-starred meal with non-stop PJ and (this is the best part) no hangover. Not deluxe: My birthday meal on Kilimanjaro, complete with a cake that someone had gone down the mountain to fetch and a (contraband) beer that I split with the crew.
Everywhere I go, I check out the hardware store, pharmacy/drug store, and grocery store.
When I arrive in a new place, I learn the lay of the land by doing a ton of research before I go. Someone I know always knows someone where I am going. That, and walking around.
I always bring home biltong from South Africa, Berocca from London, and one piece of killer jewelry from Jaipur.
If I never return to Switzerland it'll be too soon because it's too clean, the food wasn't great, and the stores close early on Saturday and (at that time) remained closed on Sunday. I found it surprisingly unstimulating.
I travel because I am easily bored.