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: Laura Grier
Occupation: Adventure Photographer, Travel Writer, Photo-Anthropologist, Explorer
Hometown: Fairfax, Virginia
Residence: Marina Del Rey, California
College: Syracuse – Newhouse School of Public Communications
College major: Photo Journalism & Fine Art Photography
Facebook: Laura Grier Travel
Pinterest: Laura Grier
YouTube: Laura Grier Travel
Short bio: Meet Laura, the Indiana Jones of adventure travel photography and the recent addition to the Discovery UK’s “20 Richest People in the World List,” people who are rich in life experiences that is. It is no surprise that Laura turned her life of travel, adventure and exploration into a profession.
A self-proclaimed jet-setter at heart, Laura has been a globe-trotter from an early age having grown up internationally with two parents that worked for the CIA. She graduated from Syracuse University with a dual degree in Photojournalism and Art Photography and in 2003 founded Beautiful Day Photography, based in Los Angeles and specializing in destination weddings and events. Her ability to channel her storytelling into a chic, vibrant perspective, has made her a veteran international photographer, shooting over the past 17 years on six of the seven continents.
Laura has been published in over 25 publications worldwide and is presently the lead photographer for Novica/National Geographic, shooting all of their catalog work and training their in-house photographers around the world. Laura also teaches, mentors, and inspires other photographers through her travel workshops and seminars. Laura loves to blend her love of photography, social media, and writing as a regular Travel photojournalist for the Huffington Post, Venuelust, Laura Grier Travel, and now as the co-founder of Jetset Collective Media.
How often do you fly? Six times a month? Probably.
How many countries have you been to? 68
How many continents have you been to? 6
Earliest travel memory: When I was three, going to preschool in Indonesia on a becak.
Favorite American city: Los Angeles, this city has treated me well and cultivates entrepreneurs and people following their dreams.
Favorite international city: Cape Town, South Africa.
Least favorite country: Aruba, it has zero culture.
I have no desire to go to: Syria, to see destruction of beautiful world heritage sites and people’s lives. It is such a horrible travesty what is happening to what once was a beautiful country.
Friendliest people in the world: Bali or Thailand.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: Israel, but that may be because I was walking across the border from Jordan and then walking into Egypt in the same day.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Machu Picchu. That is my spiritual happy place.
Favorite airline: Virgin.
Favorite aircraft type: Double decker 747 with a real walk-up bar.
Aisle or window: Aisle.
Favorite airport lounge: No1lounge in Heathrow Airport. Amazing spa!
Favorite U.S. airport: Seattle. It is just small and simple.
Favorite international airport: Malaysia. They have the best spa and pampering services there and it is gorgeous and clean.
Favorite hotel: The One & Only Hotel brand or Ani Villas. I love any boutique hotel that understands luxury and bespoke experiences.
Favorite cruise line: Princess Cruises.
Favorite travel credit card: American Airlines AAdvantage Amex. They partner with the best airlines and make it easy to cash in your points anywhere in the world.
Favorite island: Bali. This little hippie island is my happy place, but it is getting a bit crowded now.
Favorite beach: New Zealand Golden Bay. You have to hike through a hidden gorgeous sheep farm in order to get there and it has very iconic rock formations. In fact, Mac computers use a photo from that beach as a screensaver.
Favorite National Park: Yellowstone National Park. It is vast and diverse and beautiful. The geysers and the colors especially blow me away.
Favorite fancy restaurant: STK in London.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: The Whaler Bar in Venice Beach. I love going over there and singing karaoke in my pjs. I sometimes go there straight from the airport to sing.
Favorite airport restaurant: Umami Burger LAX.
Favorite bar: Now Boarding in West Hollywood (airplane-themed bar).
Favorite fruit: Banana. Simple, easy to travel with and good.
Favorite food: Cuban food, plantains—basically bananas.
Least favorite food: Balut Vietnam (fermented duck fetus…it’s so gross and it’s a delicacy there).
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Moscow Mule, I even carry my own copper mug sometimes.
Favorite travel movie(s): The Secret Life of Walter Mitty hands down.
Favorite travel show(s): Tales by Light on Netflix featuring other travel photographers and explorers from across the world.
Favorite travel book(s): “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho It must be read on the beginning of any journey.
Right now I am reading: “The 100 Year Old Man That Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared”…I have no idea why I am reading this, but it is entertaining.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: Nat Geo Traveler, Conde Nast Traveler, DameTraveler.com, Maptia.com.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! Venuelust.com, Dame Traveler, Passion Passport, Beautiful Destinations.
5 things you bring on a plane: A book, laptop, DC-3 plane necklace (my lucky charm), passport, and a long sweater & my Indiana Jones hat to sleep with and cover my face so I can signal to people to leave me alone.
What do you always seem to forget? Chargers for everything.
What do you like least about travel? Not being able to be on a regular workout routine or see my friends as often, unless they come with me.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Nothing, I can’t stand duty free…but maybe some chargers.
Favorite travel app(s): TripIt.
Most embarrassing travel moment: When I was 21 I was in Jordan with friends. I put on a bikini to go swim in the Dead Sea. It was during Ramadan, their super religious holiday and which is very conservative. I never felt so out of place and I should have known better about their cultural tradition. Lesson learned, I was young and naïve and now I know better.
I’m embarrassed I haven’t been to: Croatia, Ireland, even though I lived right next door to both of them while studying abroad in college.
Worst travel moment: In Portugal, right when I landed I left my purse with everything in the airport bathroom (my passport, credit cards, cell phone, a ton of cash and jewelry, drove an hour away to the hotel and realized it. Drove back a whole hour and luckily someone had turned it in with everything in it! Worst two hours of my life!
Also, I slept through my stop, didn’t have a ticket for the return journey, got in an argument with the conductor about it, got detained and kicked off and arrested at the next stop. Hours later, I managed to talk a cop into letting me out of jail and I stowed away on a cargo train back to London just in time to make my final exams at my university!
What’s your dream destination? Bhutan, the Hidden Himalayan Kingdom.
Favorite travel charity: Hands On London.
Best travel tip: Allow for spontaneity! Only plan hotels for your first couple of days and last couple of days. Let meeting people and everything else plan the rest of your trip!