AFAR Ambassador Charu Suri embodies the ideal of traveling deeper, seeking out the quintessential experiences that make travel the ultimate form of education. And, fortunately for us, she’s willing to share those experiences! You can get to know Charu through her website, Butterfly Diary, as well as through her numerous Highlights and Wanderlists here on AFAR.com, including Inspiring Temple Scenes of India.

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Right now I’m New York City.

Though I would much prefer to be in China tasting tea in Chengdu Province.

Occupation: Freelance travel writer and wanderer.

My next trip is to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

My last trip took me to The Big Island, Hawai’i.

First international trip: I was three years old; we went to Nigeria, Africa.

A carved sandalwood letter opener from Chennai, India is my most treasured travel souvenir.

Favorite hotel: La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Favorite shopping destination: Delhi Bazaar, New Delhi, India.

Favorite local style/most stylish place: Singapore.

If you’re in Hawai’i, The Big Island during the holidays, try Ka’U Coffee Mill’s Christmas Blend Coffee, which is otherworldly.

Chilling out and eating is the best way to connect with locals.

Favorite airport and why? Singapore Changi Airport because they give you guided tours of the city during transit; plus there are plenty of opportunities to eat great food and even watch movies.

Three travel apps you can’t live without: Food Spotting, Evernote, Instagram.

Favorite travel book: The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway.

Best memory of a trip with kids—either from your own childhood or with your own kids: Going to Hawai’i with my little one age five months. She was a trooper and did it all—waterfalls, volcanoes and everything!

Most out-of-character travel experience? Something that you would never have done at home: stand on the glass viewing platform at the Macau Tower, Macau because I have a big fear of heights.

Biggest travel mistake? Not giving myself plenty of time to arrive at the airport, missing my flight and getting another connection and losing my luggage in the process. Does that count?

If I had a whole month to travel, I would explore all the lesser known islands off the coast of South India (the Andaman and Nicobar Islands).

Favorite foreign word or phrase: “Duende,” which has no direct translation into English, but has the sense of passion and inspiration.

Travel has taught me to be open, humble, and to learn that everyone has a story to tell, no matter where you’re from.

Photo courtesy of Charu Suri