Hometown: San Francisco Bay Area (yep, all of it).
Favorite destinations: Paris, Turkey, Cuba, Spain.
Dying to visit: Morocco, Burma/Myanmar, Vietnam, Sweden, Iran.
Bizarre travel rituals: I'm a nervous flyer, so I have a little mantra I repeat to myself before takeoff, but I'd bet that's not quite as bizarre as I think it is. I also definitely OD on candy on flights — something I never normally buy.
In-flight relaxation regime: The best flight I ever took was thanks to half an Ambien.
Always in carry-on: As much as possible. I never check a bag if I can help it, and am an expert at sneaking bigger-than-allowed carry-ons on. Otherwise, a good book and my Moleskine.
Concierge or DIY? DIY, all the way, but if a concierge wanted to offer me some insider tips for free, I wouldn't say no.
See it all or take it easy? I am not a beach-bum traveler. I want to do, see, and eat everything. That said, when I traveled around the world in 2009, I learned the value of relaxing on a trip — you can't travel for ten months straight without needing to just chill out in a hammock sometimes.
Drive or be driven? Take the bus or the train. Unless it's a US road-trip, in which case we can share driving duties. I also have a travel dream of road-tripping around Cuba.
Travel hero: Ella K Maillart. I just read her book, The Cruel Way, which chronicles the trip she and a female friend took in 1939, driving from Geneva to Kabul. I wish I could take that trip! I wish I were that brave and adventurous, and could visit those places at that time.
Weirdest thing seen on travels: You think I can pick one? For starters, I saw more men whipping it out to urinate on the street in India than I ever could have imagined...
My favorite hotel is the Raffles Singapore. I never stayed there but I fell madly in love with it over afternoon tea in its colonial-era café one tropical afternoon.
I dream about my meal at my Parisian host family's house. I lived with them for a year, and every single meal was wonderful, whether it was a simple salad and tarte àl'oignon or a full spread of veal, gratin dauphinois, green beans, homemade fois gras (an Easter specialty!), plenty of cheese, and a gooey gâteau au chocolat. And don't forget the requisite baguette à l'ancienne with every meal.
Best hotel amenity: Homemade chocolate chip cookies.
Favorite childhood travel memory: When I was 11, my dad's entire family went to Italy for a few weeks to celebrate my grandparents' 50th anniversary. Not only did I get to spend a week in a villa in Tuscany with my cousins (elaborate games of hide-and-seek, getting thrown in the pool, walks in the vineyards, gelato every afternoon, watching the sun rise over the hills), but I tried coffee and fresh mozzarella for the first time, fell in love with cathedrals, and discovered just how tightly stories and places could be bound.
Everywhere I go, I check out food markets and cafés.
When I arrive in a new place, I learn the lay of the land by getting lost.
I always bring home a purse overflowing with subway, bus and train tickets.
If I never return to Kuala Lumpur, it'll be too soon because that city feels like it's out of a Kafka story.
I travel for the stories (mine and theirs) and the challenges.