Who is Travel Eater?
I’m Johanna Read, a travel and food writer / photographer. I swapped my life as an executive with the Canadian Public Service for a new life of travelling, discovering good stuff, and sharing (I call it my lemon pie life).
I’m also the Contributing Editor of two magazines, La Carte and Luxury And Boutique Hotels, and S.E.E. Africa‘s new Responsible Tourism Columnist. I write freelance for a variety of print and digital publications in Canada, the U.S., and internationally. They include the in-flight magazine for United Airlines, Men’s Journal, USA Today’s 10Best, Almost Fearless and Canadian Traveller (complete list of publications, Contently portfolio, and links to interviews with me).
I’m a mostly solo, almost full-time traveller. While I love going solo and meeting new people while travelling, it is also great when friends and family can take time out from their busy lives and meet me somewhere (and when they take me in as a temporary house guest!).
My style of travelling is to arrive in a place with a few must-visits (restaurants, museums, historical sites, hotels, activities, whatever) in mind, and while wandering to or from them, I aim to stumble upon other interesting things. I like to have a few ideas of these interesting things to get me started (this is how I’ve structured the “field notes” posts), and gain more as I go.
I collect advice from a variety of sources and then test it out when I travel:
- friends’ and fellow travellers’ recommendations (checking out travel writers’ sites and blogs ensures real opinions and up to date info)
- World Nomads’ Ask A Nomad travel Q&A service, plus all the travel writing on their site (they’re also my favourite travel insurance provider)
- Twitter and other social media networks
- old school magazines, newspapers, and guide books (I prefer Rough Guides, because they’re opinionated and give a range of recommendations from cheap-as-chips to wow-what-a-treat and everything in between)
- I’ve also benefitted from an excellent travel agent — Trailfinders, in Ottawa — for everything from itinerary suggestions from their website, flights and general advice, to arranging the whole kit and caboodle. (Not in Ottawa? Don’t worry, they have plenty of clients from elsewhere — including me!)
When travelling, I keep value in mind — I’m willing to spend a fair amount on something great, but it has to meet my definition of “worth it”. I want each meal and snack to count, so try to avoid stuff you can get anywhere, unless it is really great. And cheap can often be really great. Plus, I’m from Canada, a second-tier currency country, so I have the exchange rate constantly in mind (our loonie was at par with the US dollar several years ago, but the markets aren’t usually that kind to the Canadian traveller’s wallet).
There are meals, activities and hotels that, while expensive, are very much worth it. Skip Joël Robuchon’s mashed potatoes while in Monaco? Visit Cappadocia, Turkey without a hot air balloon ride? Go to Africa without staying at a safari lodge? No thanks. Travelling is about experiencing the world, and while I’m not one to waste money, I’m not going to miss out on what I’ve come so far to see and do either.
While I like to try new things, you’ll notice a few patterns.
My favourite type of restaurant is one that uses local ingredients in innovative ways, preferably with some Southeast Asian influences. Hospitality — like the kind at Danny Meyer‘s NYC eateries or Stephen Beckta‘s Ottawa restos, and at hotels like Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort — is important. I like it when the staff are as excited about what they’re serving and cooking as I am, and when it is clear that they like their jobs. See my article on Ottawa’s The Wellington Gastropub for a sense of what I look for in a restaurant.
When travelling I prefer warmer climes, or at least warmer seasons. Yes, I’m Canadian, but I’ve had my fill of snow. I veer towards UNESCO World Heritage sites, beaches and oceans (especially where I can scuba dive and snorkel), big cities, interesting history, cross-cultural interaction, cool architecture, wildlife, the unusual, and exploring on foot. And if you toss in a Thai massage or Turkish hammam, I’m elated. While I’m open to most anything, the places I visit and write about reflect this favouritism.
I’ve been to 61 countries (and counting!), been above the Arctic Circle, traversed the Atlantic on the world’s largest sailing ship, fast-boated over the Wallace Line, crossed the widest street and widest river in the world, and flown, sailed, driven and walked over the equator. In the last few years I’ve been on six continents multiple times, though I’ve not yet been to Antarctica. My favourite countries? Turkey, Laos, Uruguay and Namibia.
I’m always open to advice and suggestions, and to working with tourism commissions and PR firms — please get in touch!
- TravelEater.Info (at) gmail (dot) com
- Johanna (at) LuxuryAndBoutiqueHotels (dot) com
- Twitter: @TravelEater
- Facebook: TravelEaterJohanna
- Instagram: TravelEaterJohanna
- Pinterest: TravelEater
- Google+: TravelEaterNet
- Flickr: TravelEater
Travel well & happy eating