Quick summary of about ME: Hi! I’m Jim. When I’m not on the road I’m teaching English at a college in California, where I live with my wife, Izetta. I’ve written e-books on the Paris Metro system and on cemeteries in Paris. When I was younger, I loved camping throughout the western deserts and mountains, but I now prefer visiting historical cities and places that connect to the literature I love. I also love art, and will seldom pass up a trip to a city’s art museum or a walk through the street art districts.
Why I travel: I travel because I’m pretty sure we only get one all-you-can see pass to this earth and I’m going to see as much as I can. Meeting great people and connecting with old friends is just icing on the cake.
WHAT I love about travel: I love everything about travel. My grandfather managed airplane maintenance at SFO back in the late 60s and early 70s. When I was much younger, he used to take me in on the weekends and let me crawl through planes, including those incredible 747s with spiral staircases, all decked out for Hawaiian and Polynesian travel. I think travel got into my DNA during those weekends.
Pet Peeves when traveling: I hate when I have moments without Internet access. Until I get the local SIM popped into my phone, I feel lost without access to Uber, Grab, and Google Maps. Partly that’s because I hate cabs, after all the scams they’ve tried to (and often successfully) pulled on me over the years.
Favorite Place in the United stateS: San Francisco barely edges out NYC for me. It’s cheaper, more walkable, and has a perfect mix of art, culture, food, and drink. Nothing beats sipping a good martini at the Top of the Mark, watching the sun slowly set over the bay, as the fog comes in to cover the streets below.
Favorite place outside the United stateS: Sorry—I can’t just name one place. For the longest time I would have automatically said Paris, but for the last few years Hanoi has come to be just as necessary a touchstone for me.
Best travel tip: As much as possible, be loyal to one airline. Status makes traveling so much better. Try a few airlines and find one that you like and that meets your need, and then get the branded credit card and join the rewards program. Getting upgraded to business class (or at least premium economy), having access to lounges, checking bags for free, boarding priority—all those things help to take most of the stress out of traveling. Also, when visiting a city for the first time, try to take a free walking tour on your first day with groups like Sandman’s or Free Tours by foot. The walking will help you beat jet leg, and by the end of the tour you’ll have a good idea of how to see the city.
Favorite meal or food destination: In Paris, it would have to be a dozen fresh Bélon oysters, with a loaf of brown bread, salted butter from Brittany, and a glass of Sancerre. Ok, make it a pitchet of Sancerre. In Hanoi, it would have to be a bowl of Pho Ga, while I’m perched on a child-sized plastic chair, on a busy sidewalk with scooters driving everywhere. Oh, and I’d like a twenty-five cent glass of bia hoi, please, unless it’s morning, and then an egg coffee will do.