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).
My writing and photos have been published in newspapers and magazines including SilkAir’s (Singapore Airlines) in-flight magazine, Dreamscapes Travel and Lifestyle Magazine, Canadian Traveller, The Globe and Mail, The Ottawa Citizen, Taste & Travel International, The Food Network, SnowSeekers, New Jetsetters, The Travelettes and World Nomads (complete list of publications and links to interviews with me).
In 2012 I became World Travel Buzz‘s International Eating Expert. I joined the review team for LuxuryAndBoutiqueHotels.com in 2013 and became their contributing editor in 2014. Occasionally I write serious things like this article on burnout for RUBY, and this op-ed about the Public Service, stemming from my previous life as a policy executive with the Government of Canada Trudeau is ready but the Public Service clearly isn’t.
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 (and while the past few years have had our loonie close to par with the US dollar, 2014-15 has not been 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 51 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 and sailed over the equator (but I’ve yet to walk over it). 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.
Where have I been since I stated my travelling life? I spent the first part of 2016 in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. Before that I was in north Africa (Morocco and Tunisia), on a press trip to China (Sichuan and Shanxi provinces), and took a little European jaunt to Barcelona and Paris. 2014 was my first trip to South America (Ecuador and Peru), my first international press trip (Shanghai and Hunan province in China), and the last half of my six-month mostly solo trip to New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia. My lemon pie life all began in May 2013 with a five week solo trip to Panama, to make sure I liked long-term solo travel. However, I was stretching my wings (and learning photography) while finishing up my government job via a safari in Namibia and South Africa.
My next major trips:
- In March I have an extended family trip to California (and I’m so sad that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter won’t be open there yet).
- Then back on another press trip to China (Hong Kong for my birthday, then Fujian and Jianxi provinces).
- April holds two press trips — Arkansas and Cuba.
- May and June will be a trip to Estonia and surrounding countries like Lithuania, Latvia, Russia and Finland.
- In September I’ll be hiking in Scotland and stopping over in Iceland.
- Southeast Asia, with its delicious food, is always calling to me. There are some great possibilities in Burma, Costa Rica and back to NYC to check out some great new hotels. And I’d really like to explore the Middle East — Jordan, Egypt, Iran, Israel ….
- Where would you go if you were me?
I’m always open to advice and suggestions — please get in touch!
- TravelEater (at) gmail (dot) com
- Johanna (at) LuxuryAndBoutiqueHotels (dot) com
- Twitter: @TravelEater
- Facebook: TravelEaterJohanna
- Instagram: TravelEaterJohanna
- Pinterest: TravelEater
- Google+: TravelEaterNet
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- Flickr: TravelEater
Travel well & happy eating