One of the best parts of being the Globe’s Travel editor is hearing from people. Not to paint Globe Travel section readers with a broad brush, but many of you send e-mails instead of commenting online, and your comments tend to be thoughtful, constructive, fun, and — dare I say it? — nice.
Recently, Globe reader Johanna Bohoy of Beverly Farms e-mailed to say that she loves the VIP Lounge, but is “not sure I like some of the new questions.’’ I loved this e-mail! People are paying attention. That’s a good feeling. It’s true, a few months ago, the author of the VIP Lounge, Juliet Pennington, and I began brainstorming new questions for the column we kicked off years ago, in the interest of keeping things interesting and fresh. We came up with a list we like and started off 2023 asking our VIPs some new questions.
I asked Bohoy which questions she liked and didn’t like and what she thinks we should be asking. Then I asked her to answer the questions herself. She did not disappoint.
So in a new, every-now-and-then feature we’re calling “Be the VIP,’’ we ask you the questions. Want to take part? Pick the VIP Lounge questions you like — new ones, old ones, or a mix of both — and send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. Who knows, maybe your submission will be picked. Just know this: You’re all VIPs in my book.
Here are Bohoy’s answers. (Interview was edited and condensed.)
If you could travel anywhere right now, and money was no object, where would you go? Always Italy, but if I had endless money I would search my ancestral countries, Italy, Sicily, Slovakia, and my husband’s, Lithuania and Poland. Ending with a trip to Bali or someplace with turquoise water, flowers to wear, sun, etc.
Where was the first place you traveled to after COVID restrictions were lifted? We started to travel to Vermont for a “safe’’ trip in our little RV van “hotel on wheels,’’ but lo and behold, it caught on fire on the highway while driving up and burned to the ground. We put off going anywhere after that eerie event.
Favorite childhood travel memory? (My favorite question) My father took the family on a buying trip to NYC. We traveled on the Phoebe Snow train from upstate New York, and I will never forget the dining car with the white table cloths, heavy dinnerware, and the tux-wearing waiters. Then in the hotel room one morning we had room service. A wheeled-in tray brought us breakfast, again with a white tablecloth, real silverware and covered dishes, and was delivered by a man in hotel uniform. I never forgot it, and to this day, when in a hotel, I need to have one room service. And I’m planning a dinner train scenic tour for my birthday in the future.
Thoughts on an “unplugged’’ vacation? I need my iPhone for the camera since I use photos as reference for my paintings and of course memories. I would be lost without that feature. Also getting info, the time, and schedules is pretty important when traveling.
Worst travel experience? On a solo work trip in Germany, I tried to save money by taking a bus and got very lost and didn’t speak the language. The village people were wonderful in trying to help me find my way back. Unfortunately my room was on a ship on the Leine River (there was a convention and they ran out of accommodations so a small ship was used for guests). Finally, and fortunately, a taxi driver found it and I was safely back. Scary.
Do you vacation to relax, to learn, or for the adventure of it all? My main reason for travel is Discovery with a capital D. Because my husband is so friendly, we usually end up in restaurant kitchens, or in private areas, or many one-of-a kind, non-tourist experiences. We try for unusual cultural experiences, like our trip to Cuba with a ballet group. Don’t really relax much, but learn a lot. As a seasoned ballet student, I drop into open ballet classes when I travel: Alvin Ailey in NYC, Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, The Joffrey Ballet in Chicago, Alaska Dance Theatre, Jackson’s School of Performing Arts in Bermuda, New Orleans Ballet Theater, Florida Ballet, Jacob’s Pillow, and others.
What book do you plan on bringing with you to read on your next vacation? I keep bringing a sketchbook but I never seem to open it since it seems like work. If I do bring a book and find time to read, it is about the location I am in, such as M.F.K. Fisher’s “Two Towns in Provence’’ while in France, or “Beautiful Ruins’’ while on the Italian coast — to get the sense of place.
If you could travel with one famous person/celebrity, who would it be? Henry Louis Gates Jr. I am enthralled with “Finding Your Roots’’ and him as a person. Previously, I may also have chosen Barbara Walters, but she just unfortunately passed.
What is the coolest souvenir you’ve picked up on a vacation? Shards of beautiful tiles I found washing up from the ocean in Greece; then Italy. It started my whole travel rock/terra collection. And they are free!
Guilty pleasure when traveling? The first thing I buy in a place or country is a perfume of the region, or a fragrance indicative of the place, to wear throughout the trip. When I open it later at home it brings me back. And I always visit a drugstore to look at local soaps, shampoos, tinctures, etc. My husband hits the groceries for local food items.
Favorite food and drink when traveling? Welch’s fruit snacks, nuts, small candies in my purse. I always try the local traditional food, or the infamous things such as the Alaska Duck Fart cocktail in Alaska.
Do you prefer booking trips through a travel agent or on your own? We may be considering trying an agent again after a few mishaps booking our own flights and hotel on cheap sites. Many years ago a travel agent helped me plan a work/play European trip and it was a very positive experience.
What is your favorite app/website for travel? No. I still want to use travel books I get from the library, such as Frommer’s, Fodor’s, etc., and plan trips through those. I take out a book, settle in with a glass of wine, and “travel’’ and plan the trip.
What is your best travel tip? Write info down — the places you went, names, restaurants, hotels, etc. — because you think you will remember, but you won’t. Also, look up the destinations before you go so you don’t get home and discover that you missed something really fabulous. (Like staying in an old windmill in Prague.)
What is the best gift to give a traveler? Maybe a journal/notebook to record places and experiences. I just gave a friend a tropical clothes item to wear on an island trip.
What has travel taught you? Everything. Traveling the world is a wonderful adventure. But there is no place like home, for me anyway.
Chris Morris can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @morrisglobe.