Fathom Questionnaire

Meet the Traveler: Joan Larsen

by Joan Larsen

Hometown: Chicago, IL.

Occupation: I hold local political office in public life, but can be found exploring the world's most remote corners every moment of my time off.

Favorite destinations: Antarctica, Chilean Patagonia, Spitzbergen.

Dying to visit: The above places again and again!!!

Bizarre travel rituals: Don't actually pack until the last minute.

In-flight relaxation regime: Hopefully, talking to whoever I am sitting next to — that is, if I don't have a window seat. Otherwise, staring out the window.

Always in carry-on: Everything I need if my suitcase is lost forever.

Concierge or DIY? In major cities, concierge, as I don't want to waste time standing in line for theater tickets or best restaurants. I want to sightsee the days away.

See it all or take it easy? See it all. I don't miss anything.

Drive or be driven? Mostly, I hike. But in United States I drive, and in foreign countries I find someone who knows the hidden wonders to drive me.

Travel hero: Richard Halliburton, adventurer and risktaker, who wrote The Royal Road of RomanceEncouraged by my family, by the age of 8 I had my head in atlases, planning to be the female version of Halliburton, going to remote islands no one had ever visited before. At 11, we were in the jungles of the Yucatan in Mexico, searching for lost cities, and life from then on became adventure after adventure. Years of exploring the underwater world was superceded by a love of hot air balloons and going up in blimps and gliders whenever I could. . . and endless travel to faraway places. That single book Halliburton wrote has guided my dreams ever after — and made them come true.

Weirdest thing seen on travels: A single unisex public sloped "toilet" with only tile floor and hole in center on a very old ship crossing the Straits of Magellan in Tierra Del Fuego with the ship rolling to almost 45 degree angle back and forth every minute. It was the hardest challenge I have ever;met!

Best hotel amenity: Comfortable beds.

I dream about my romantic dinner in the moonlight, on the sand beach on the island of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands and later having so much fun dancing to the local band. It was close to heaven!

Everywhere I go, I check out the nature and the wildlife.

When I arrive in a new place, I learn the lay of the land by doing tons of research before I leave home — enough that I could lead tours to the places immediately.

I always bring back: I used to bring home gorgeous handmade sheep that peeked out of my carry-on, causing ohhs and ahhs.

If I never return to the little towns of Greenland, it'll be too soon because, like the Inuit, the life that poverty allows them I find to be most upsetting. However, I love the beauty of the country itself.

I travel for the adventure.

We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.