This interview was originally published on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog by Kelly Soderlund March 4, 2016
As a travel expert, TV host, and writer, Brandon Presser is no stranger to life on the go. Presser, who has visited more than 100 countries, has penned over 50 travel books, and is a regular contributor for such publications as Afar, Travel + Leisure, The Daily Beast, and National Geographic Traveler. And while he may be well known in the travel industry, he’s about to experience a whole new level of recognition: Presser is the lead host of Bravo TV’s new travel-based reality show, “Tour Group“, which tags along as 11 travelers search for the ultimate vacation. (10 p.m. EST/PST on Bravo.) We got Presser to stay in one place long enough to give us his best travel advice, his favorite places to go, and the items he can’t leave home without.
Hipmunk: So, tell us. What’s in your carry-on?
Brandon Presser: A dopp kit with some small essentials like eye drops, moisturizer, a travel toothbrush, Advil, and Ursa Major face towelettes; a small pouch with some lucky charms (a few pebbles I’ve collected from different beaches around the world–I’m a little superstitious!); a good book (that I never finish); an iPad fully loaded with some of my favorite movies; Bose headphones; and Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Granola Bars.
H: Carry on bag of choice?
BP: If I’m hauling some serious carry-on luggage and want the flexibility of bringing more things home, I go for the Dakine Over Under bag, which can grow and shrink in size. For quick trips I’m obsessed with Fjallraven’s safari duffle.
H: How often do you travel?
BP: I’ll travel through roughly 15 countries a year, which has me on one or two large trips a month. Last year’s highlights included everything from Tahiti to Portugal, and leading 11 strangers on a world tour through Africa and Asia while making “Tour Group.”
H: First, business class or coach?
BP: Each travel project I work on has different travel parameters–sometimes I’m in coach, other times I’m in first. I can tell you that it’s super hard to do a long-haul flight at the back of the plane after being treated to the flat beds up front.
H: Ok, now that we’re warmed up, let’s play a game of favorites. Favorite city to visit for work? Why?
BP: Tokyo is the best canvas for my work–whether it’s researching and writing articles and guidebooks or leading travelers through the incredible neighborhoods. The city is an endless well of oddities and curious fads. (Read Brendon’s articles on Tokyo’s oddities and fads here and here, respectively).
H: Favorite city for play? Why?
BP: Luckily, my work life and play life are closely intertwined. And Tokyo never stops inspiring me to get out there and explore with its thousands of cool restaurants, bars, shops and public spaces.
H: Favorite hotels?
BP: I’ve stayed in more than 2,500 hotels worldwide, so this is definitely a tricky one to answer. In the last 12 months some of my hotel highlights have included: Four Seasons Bora Bora, Twin Farms in Vermont, and Roch Castle in Wales.
H: Favorite airline? Airport? Airport Terminal?
BP: I’m really loving JetBlue’s newest aircrafts right now–the entertainment system is bigger and better than ever, the coach seats really aren’t bad, and there’s an endless supply of snacks. Portland’s PDX wins domestically for making a promise to its traveler to not price gauge on snacks and supplies. And Hong Kong wins internationally for Cathay Pacific’s awesome business class lounge with delicious food and state-of-the-art shower facilities.
H: Any travel tips before you take off?
BP: Change your place; change your luck.