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Seasoned in Seattle: Tom Douglas

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When it comes to travel, red-eye flights are best, and manners go a long way, according to Tom Douglas, a James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur in Seattle for more than 20 years. Douglas recently opened the low-key Carlile Room in downtown Seattle.

Let’s play spin the globe—name the one place you’ve always wanted to go.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

What’s your spirit city? (Where do you want to return to over and over?)

Alba, Italy, because I’m a freak for Nebbiolo wine.

Do you have a travel ritual?

I always have a window seat on the sunless side of the plane because I love to look out the window. I also try to write a newsletter for my company’s blog on the plane.

Do you maintain any routines from home while traveling or does it all go out the window?

I love to check out junk stores and used cookbook stores while I’m on the road, searching for someone else’s trash. It’s often my treasure.

Douglas visits Alba, Italy for its Nebbiolo wine

Sorry, you only get to eat one regional cuisine for the rest of your life. What is it?

Vietnamese! I would have the ginger fish sauce and marinated pork, charred crispy, over a bowl of spring rolls and rice with a limey gnoc cham.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone traveling abroad for the first time?

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I like taking night flights so that you’re up and ready to go first thing in the morning! Stay in one spot to get your bearings when you are moving to city to city. And above all else, use your manners.

Describe your travel personality in three words.

Friendly, inquisitive, and experimental.

Are your trips very planned, or very spontaneous?

Planned with an outline. Always willing to be spontaneous on the fly!

What's the one travel souvenir you'd save in a fire?

My passport.

What book/movie most inspired you to travel?

Gone with the Wind. Besides the obvious pun, it was the first time I saw a movie that made me realize how different the world can be, even in my own country. I was intrigued by the different atmosphere, traditions and people.

Who’s your ideal travel partner?

Someone who takes care of all the details, like Jackie, my wife.

Which travel experience do you prefer: plugged in or unplugged?

Definitely plugged in! I travel much more now that I can do business on the road, and I don’t have to deal with the drama of trying to get all my work done before I leave. Some of my best uninterrupted office time is on the plane.

What’s a custom from another culture that you’d love to implement in your life back home?

A long lunch with a bottle of wine, and then a siesta! Seems very civilized.

What’s the first thing you seek out in a new place?

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A newspaper stand. I still love to crack open the International Herald Tribune and sit outdoors in a café and read the world’s news. 

What’s the one thing you indulge in on a trip that you don’t at home?

Sleeping in, and long walks.

What’s your first travel memory?

Early trips with newfound pals to Vancouver, B.C., my first true international city experience. Great restaurants and a sweet old British style hotel experience at the Hotel Sylvia. While only a three-hour drive from Seattle, it seemed like another world. And you could drink wine while you’re under 21!

>>NEXT: AFAR Insider Kristin Karst

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