I’m thrilled to have Kirsten Alana as our Featured Traveler this week. Kirsten has been a source of inspiration for wanderers, photographers, bloggers, solo female travelers, food lovers—the list goes on. As a traveler, I have often turned to Kirsten for travel inspiration, iPhoneography tips, or restaurant recommendations. And as a community manager, I am grateful that she has become that resource to the greater AFAR community as one of our valued ambassadors. Month after month, she continues to blow us away with her gorgeous photos and insider knowledge; with over 100 Highlights on AFAR.com, she takes us around the world with her.
It can be difficult to keep up with her itinerary (see her answers to the questions below), but you’re going to want to. Do so by reading her blog, Aviators and a Camera, save her Highlights on AFAR, like her Facebook page and follower her on Twitter. Oh, and this world traveler has one of the best Instagram streams you’ll ever see. Right now, you’ll see some brilliant updates from her #SeeAustralia trip where she tackles the Whitsundays, Perth, Margaret River Wine Country, Sydney, Melbourne, and the Great Ocean Road.
Right now I’m in Australia.
Though I would much prefer to be snorkeling in the Komodo Islands in Indonesia.
Occupation: Photographer, Writer and Social Travel Consultant
My next trip is to Berlin, Istanbul, Cannes & Marseilles, Paris, and Croatia back-to-back.
My last trip took me to London.
First international trip—when and where? My mum and I went to London, Bath, and Dover when I was 12.
My photographs are my most treasured travel souvenir.
Favorite hotel: Grand Hotel Savoia in Genova, Italy or the Four Seasons at Anahita in Mauritius
Favorite restaurant: El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain
Favorite shopping destination: the souks of Marrakech
Favorite local style/most stylish place: It’s hard to beat Paris.
iPhone or DSLR? Both! But these days, it’s just my iPhone 4S.
Plugged-in or unplugged? Plugged-in! But I’m learning lately to be better at enjoying the times when I can’t be connected.
If you’re in Mauritius any time of the year, don’t miss eating deep fried gato pima from a street vendor.
Preparation: guidebook, online research, or seat of your pants? I fly by the seat of my pants far too often. When I don’t, it’s usually online research and reading travel blogs written by friends who have been where I am going.
Frequenting places that are local and not filled with tourists is the best way to connect with locals.
Five things you can’t travel without: iPhone, aviators, moleskine notebook, a good book for train and plane rides, scarves in varying colors
Favorite airport and why? Probably BKK. You can shop, get a massage, take a shower, stay in a private room for a nap, have a manicure or pedicure; there is free WiFi, it’s open all night and there are enough food options to please any palate.
Three travel apps you can’t live without: AFAR’s mobile app, Word Lens, Currency
What’s the one hometown place you miss most while traveling? When I lived in NYC, it was McSorley’s Old Ale House.
First thing you do when you get home: I don’t currently have a home base, but when it was NYC I would get a slice of pizza pretty quickly. There really is just something about the slices there.
Where do you always take out-of-town friends? food trucks
Best memory of a trip with kids—either from your own childhood or with your own kids: I think the long trips to and from summer camp as a kid will always be mystical experiences in my memory. There was so much rugged beauty in the upper peninsula of Michigan and it was adventurous being so young and without family.
Most out-of-character travel experience? Something that you would never have done at home. Eating the 17-plus courses at El Celler de Can Roca! The meal included a lot of things I don’t normally enjoy but when traveling, I’m always more daring with my culinary choices.
Biggest travel mistake? I’ll always regret that I didn’t begin traveling, more or full time, earlier in my life.
If I had a whole month to travel, I would visit India.
If I had a whole year to travel, I would go to Australia and New Zealand.
Favorite foreign word or phrase: Je peux prendre une photo s’il vous plait?
Favorite foreign tradition: the shrines and offerings that are everywhere in Bali
Travel has taught me that I’m too caught up in the stereotypes and prejudices that are so ingrained into the culture of growing up in America. There may be a lot that divides and differentiates us but at the same time, we’re all human and there’s more which unites us than I’d grown up realizing.