Blogger Rob Annis

Where was your photo taken: In a hospital about an hour after I crashed on my mountain bike and broke my collarbone. Luckily the bike was fine.

Where do you live now: Indianapolis, Indiana.

I grew up in Indiana, then moved to New York, after I graduated college, intent on becoming the new, drunker Charles Bukowski. Fortunately for my liver, I took a job as an editor for an aviation publication I wasn’t remotely qualified for. Fast-forward two years later, my ex-girlfriend is stalking me and I need a cheap place for me and my dog to live. I ended up moving in with a buddy in Indy, thinking I’d save some cash and move to Arizona or Colorado after a year or two. I met my wife instead. For years, I tried to convince her to move west, but after a while, I realized Indianapolis had everything I needed – friendly people, lots of trees and an often overlooked cultural scene. Best of all, the cheap cost of living means we get to spend our disposable income on travel.

Scariest airline flown: I’ve had some scary flights – a Frontier flight to Bozeman, Montana, nearly put me off flying forever after we hit so much turbulence – but I can’t single out one particularly dangerous airline. Delta wins hands-down as the most frustrating airline I’ve ever flown on because of its constant delays and sometimes-surly flight attendants.

Favorite city/country/place: Acadia and Yosemite are my two favorite national parks that I would love to return to year after year – unfortunately, there are too many places I’ve yet to see and experience.

Most remote corner of the globe visited: About 60 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean near Jamaica. Instead of a traditional wedding, my wife and I decided on a quickie ceremony and spent the money we saved on scuba diving.

Favorite guidebook series: I copy edited Frommer’s guidebooks for a couple of years, so those books dredge up too many bad memories. I’ve had some good experiences with the Lonely Planet series, but I prefer to use local message boards and Twitter to find out what I want to know and not what a guidebook author thinks I should know. Striking up a conversation with folks at a trailhead has never failed to bring a great recommendation for a local place to eat, drink or crash.

Dream travel destination: I’m visiting one of my dream spots this summer when I travel to Europe and climb some of the big mountains of the Tour de France. I’m likely going to hate it while I’m starved for oxygen at 6,000 feet with another 1,000 feet to go until the summit, but I’m confident I’ll be able to look back on it later and wonder, “Why did I do that to myself?”

I’d also love to pedal through Cuba before the embargo ends. I’ve heard so much about the country over the years; I’d like to catch a last glimpse of how it is now before there’s a McDonald’s and a Starbucks on every corner.

Solo traveler or group traveler? Mostly small groups, but I try to take an afternoon on most trips to spend on my own. The last time I was in Nashville, I ended up in a bar a bit before noon on a Monday. It was just me, the bartender and a gray-haired musician singing Hank Williams and Merle Haggard songs. For about an hour, it was an audience of two, but he belted out the tunes like he was in front of a standing-room-only crowd at the Grand Ole Opry. I’ll remember that moment of cheap beer and classic country until I die.

Hotel, hostel or other? Tent in the backwoods after you’ve spent all day hiking, pedaling or paddling to get there. Bonus points if someone brought along a cooler full of Three Floyds beer.

Favorite music to listen to while traveling: I’ve got a road trip playlist – mostly Americana songs that evoke a strong sense of a particular destination. One of the highlights of a trip my wife and I took last year was driving along Nevada’s Winnemucca Road, which you might remember from Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere.” If I’m behind the wheel late at night and need to keep my eyes open, I cue up Whiskeytown’s “Strangers Almanac” on my iPod and sing along.

Blogger Megan Fernandez

Introducing another new blogger to Gadling, Megan Fernandez …

Where was your photo taken: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on a rare cloudy day. The locals sincerely apologized for the weather.

Where do you live now: Indianapolis, Indiana.

Scariest airline flown: No scary ones, luckily. But I turn into a crybaby on any cable car.

Favorite place: Isla Mujeres, Mexico.

Most remote corner of the globe visited: Birgitzer Alm, a farm at the head of a toboggan run in the Alps, outside of Innsbruck, Austria. It’s not far from civilization, but just try getting there in winter, and you’ll know what I mean.

Favorite guidebook series: MapChick’s meticulously annotated maps of the Mayan Riviera in Mexico. A couple in Iowa publishes them, and in the early days of e-commerce, you could order one online on the honor system. You’d just send them a check when your map arrived.

Dream travel destination: The Galapagos Islands.

How did you get started traveling: I worked for a travel club, which is a rare bird in the industry. It used to run nonstop charter flights just from Indy to places like Turks & Caicos and Prince Edward Island. I doubt the city will ever have such nonstop service again. One day, I learned just how unusual the company was when I answered my phone and it was Arthur Frommer, calling to write an article about travel clubs.

Favorite means of transportation: Bicycle and funicular.

Most recent trip: San Antonio and Austin, with a pilgrimage to City Market Barbecue in Luling.

Blogger Reena Ganga

Introducing a new blogger at Gadling, Reena Ganga…

Where was your photo taken: In Athens, Greece.

Where do you live now: I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia, but am now based in Chicago.

Scariest airline flown: A travel agent once put me on what I thought would be a Qantas flight from Sydney to Beijing; however, when I boarded the plane, I was surprised to discover I was on a codeshare flight, which was being operated by China Eastern Airlines instead. The aircraft had certainly seen better days. For one thing, there was a massive gash in the plastic-y cabin wall, and then there was the sickening rattle of the overhead bins, which would sway violently and threaten detachment at the slightest hint of turbulence. I’m not afraid of flying, but let’s just say that was 13 hours of my life that I would not like to repeat.

Oh, and then there was the domestic flight in Ethiopia where I discovered the prior passenger had peed in my seat. That was interesting.

Favorite city/country/place: I love Laos for its beauty and sense of tranquility (the many monasteries no doubt contribute to this) and enjoyed Bosnia for its atmosphere of resilience. The people there are surprisingly happy and optimistic given all they’ve been through.

Most remote corner of the globe visited: Ethiopia has to be the most untouristed place I’ve ever been. In fact, just about the only foreigners I met when I was there were either Peace Corp workers or diplomats. The upside of this is that the country retains a strong sense of authenticity when it comes to its food, culture, religion and lifestyle, so you feel like you’re seeing the real Ethiopia as it has been for centuries.

Favorite guidebook series: I like to turn to social media and local publications to learn what’s new and hot in a given destination, so if I must pack a guidebook, I’ll generally turn to Lonely Planet, which is good for getting a quick overview of the must-sees. For more in-depth info on the history and culture of a place, I’ve found Rough Guides to be indispensable. And for truly off-the-wall destinations, Bradt Guides have it covered like no one else.

On your next trip, you are forced to schedule a 24-hour layover. You have $200 to spend. Where do you spend the layover and why? Reykjavik, Iceland. It’s one of those countries you’re unlikely to visit as your sole destination, but it’s the perfect place for a layover between the US and Europe. I’d spend some of my money on a visit to the Blue Lagoon, which is a geothermal spring full of mineral-rich mud, and a perfect way to unwind after a long flight. If I’m lucky, I might even get to see the aurora borealis (aka the northern lights).

Favorite foreign dish? Restaurant? I don’t usually like the idea of cooking my own food in a restaurant (kind of defeats the point of eating out, right?) but I found a fabulous chain of hot pot restaurants in China called Hai Di Lao. The food is not only super tasty, but the restaurant puts on a dramatic tableside display of noodle-making and offers free manicures, massages, and games while you wait. What’s not to love?

How did you get started traveling? I’ve actually been traveling my whole life – my parents took me on my first overseas trip when I was just 6 months old. I started traveling independently when I was 16 and from that time on, I diligently socked away my money and vacation days so I could take trips abroad each year. A decade later, I was so passionate about taking a yearlong trip around the world that I quit my wonderful job as a television reporter and hit the road. It was the most amazing thing I ever did and now my mission in life is to convince others to travel in whatever way they can.

When I’m not writing for Gadling, I’m… sharing tips, tricks and inspiration for world travel at my website, Wanderplex.

Blogger Allison Kade

Where was your photo taken: Caye Caulker, Belize

Where do you live now: Brooklyn, New York

Scariest airline flown: Varig, the Brazilian airline, just a couple weeks before it went bankrupt and closed down for good. I was traveling between Miami and Argentina (Buenos Aires, and then Ushuaia) and my flight wasn’t just delayed but canceled in both directions. My luggage didn’t make it successfully in either direction. There was quite a lot of chaos.

Favorite city/country/place: The Vatican, because of how I visited it. My mom is a doctor, and one of her patients is a priest who happens to be on the committee that manages the Vatican Museum. Before I went to Rome, she told me to get in touch with him. All his email response told me was to show up at 7:30 a.m. to meet Giovanna. That’s it.

I showed up, and ended up getting a private tour of the Vatican, starting with the Sistine Chapel. My guide made sure I was the first tourist through the turnstile and took me straight to the chapel, where I was entirely, utterly alone (with her) in the chapel that’s normally such a tourist trap. We walked into rooms not open for the public and it was incredible. Later, I met one of the priests in charge. I think he assumed I was part of the first priest’s parish. I didn’t lie, but I didn’t disabuse him of the notion by saying, ‘no, my mom’s just his dermatologist … and we’re Jewish.’

Most remote corner of the globe visited: A small town in Belize called San Jose, where there’s no electricity and the villagers still speak Mayan. We stayed for a few nights in a guest house, battled a tarantula in our cabin and were hosted by some of the warmest people ever. In virtually every way, it truly was the end of the road.

Favorite guidebook series: Lonely Planet or Moon, I suppose, but the truth is I tend to do more research online and ask locals on the ground once I’m there.

Solo traveler or group traveler? Small group traveler, and solo is good, too. I like meeting people in hostels, but it’s nice to have someone to really fall back on – as long as your travel styles mesh.

Worst place to catch a stomach bug? Haiti! I visited my best friend who was on a fellowship for a year in a rural clinic in a town called Tomasik. It was a great experience, but she and her co-fellow came down with malaria, typhoid and possibly dengue fever between the two of them!

First culture shock experience: I lived in Kyoto, Japan, for a semester in college, and my first real struggle was the sleeping arrangement. I stayed with a host family and had a roll-up futon in my room, and that was okay. But the pillows. Oh, the pillows! Traditional pillows are stuffed with, like, sand, or acorns, or other assorted hard stuff. On day two, I went to the department store for a “Western” pillow, and all I ended up finding and getting was a fluffy Disney pillow that I slept on for the rest of my time there.

Where would you buy a second home/retire: Somewhere mountainous, like northern Japan or, I don’t know, Bhutan.

Blogger Dave Seminara

Introducing a new blogger at Gadling, Dave Seminara...

1. Where was your photo taken: Chincoteague Island, Virginia

2. Where do you live now: Falls Church, Virginia

3. Scariest Airline Flown: Uzbek Airways. This airline is so disorganized that even a trip to their website will probably leave you with a virus. I flew the friendly skies of Uzbek Air into Bishkek, which is surrounded by imposing, snow-capped mountains, and was thrilled to make it through the experience alive. The only perk was that a beautiful, terrified Kyrgyz girl sitting next to me wanted to hold my hand for the descent and landing.

4. Favorite City/Country/Place: If you only have one favorite place, you need to get out more. Cape Breton, Nova Scotia; The Crooked Road, Virginia; Glacier National Park, Montana; Sonoma, California; Savannah, Georgia; Guanajuato, Mexico; San Pancho, Mexico; Amsterdam; Vienna; Rome; Gangi, Sicily, Naxos, Greece; Meteora, Greece; Istanbul; Bansko, Bulgaria, Ohrid, Macedonia, Hvar, Croatia; Tblisi, Georgia; Bukhara, Uzbekistan; and the Mogao Caves, near Dunhaung, China.

5. Most remote corner of the globe visited: Xinxiang province in far western China.

6. Favorite Means of Transportation: Trains. For me, travel is all about freedom and there is no freedom to move about on a bus, plane, car, rickshaw, bicycle, donkey or horse. If the person sitting next to you on a train smells like spoiled cabbage or wants to tell you about their hemorrhoid problem, you’re free to move far away from them. Travel by ship can also be sublime, but on a train you don’t have to worry about foul weather.

7. Worst Armpit: (Three-way tie) Port of Spain, Trinidad. There are plenty of good reasons why V.S. Naipaul left Trinidad and never went back. Pristina, Kosovo. A muddy, polluted mess of communist-era architecture and second-rate Italian restaurants. Gatlinburg, TN. A morbid, endless sprawl of fast food, mini golf, and tourist kitsch.

8. Celebrity you’d most like to sit next to in first class: Alec Baldwin, so I could tell him to stow his portable electronic device for takeoff and shut the hell up.

9. Favorite travel book: Paul Theroux’s classic The Great Railway Bazaar. When Theroux returned home from this epic trip, his wife had taken up with another man. An occupational hazard of the solo traveler.

10. You may become the leader of any country in the world. What country and why? How would you rule? You wouldn’t have to twist my arm to rule Liechtenstein. It’s a beautiful, prosperous country right in the heart of Europe and I assume that this job would come with some sort of Teutonic looking castle to live in. Also, as a tiny, micro-state, I imagine that running the place would still leave with me with plenty of time to travel and read. During the first 100 days of my administration I would: shorten the name of the country to something much easier to spell and pronounce, perhaps I’d re-name it Leo after my oldest son; then I would name myself the captain of the national soccer and tennis squads; and finally, I would declare war on San Marino, in an attempt to expand my empire while making it clear that Leo is not a country to be trifled with.