Anthony Bourdain, the host of the travel show “Parts Unknown” (the ninth season started last night on CNN), technically lives in New York, but averages more than 200 days a year on the road.
Mr. Bourdain has plenty of advice for travelers looking to avoid both frustration and food poisoning. “Don’t get angry; don’t be the person huffing and puffing and getting angry in the security line,” he said. “It doesn’t help. Like a recidivist convict, you should go limp. Nothing else. And dress for security. I don’t carry liquids or gels, I don’t wear a belt or any jewelry, I get my stuff out and in the tray very quickly and I’m through.”
He usually doesn’t eat on planes, preferring airport food to airplane food. “I’m tragically familiar with the offerings at just about every airport in the world,” he said. “Probably Changi Airport in Singapore has the best food; it has a hawker center for the employees that’s open to the public. Tokyo has a sushi bar right near the gates serving flights to the States that’s extraordinarily good for an airport sushi place. And, as important, it has a Lawson convenience store that has these ethereal egg salad sandwiches that defy logic and science with their deliciousness and apparent freshness. They sit there at near room temperature for I don’t know how long on white bread wrapped in plastic, and I don’t know why but they’re ridiculously good.”
He has strong feelings when it comes to the right attitude for travel. “Just be nice,” he said. “Getting angry and frustrated in much of the world doesn’t help at all. It’s incomprehensible, you lose face, it makes you look ridiculous. Have a willingness to try new stuff. Be grateful for any hospitality offered. And be flexible in your plans, because a rigid itinerary is lethal to a good time.”
Here’s what he takes on every trip:
“I always carry a sweatshirt or a scrunchable lightweight down jacket, in case the plane is cold. But just as useful if I need a pillow in an airport, if I have to curl up on a floor or a bench. Actual neck pillows are too bulky and take up too much space.”
“I bring three or four. Any writing I do, I do quickly by hand first. And then as a function of inputting it onto the laptop, I edit as I copy it in. That process works for me.”
“I bring at least one physical book, I find that comforting. Often a book set in the country that I’m headed towards. A work of fiction, preferably. The perfect book to read before you go to Vietnam is Graham Greene’s ‘The Quiet American.’ Fiction seems to capture the place in a way that’s more tangible. It just works for me better than a travel guide.”
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