Name: Yasmine Khonsari
Location: Los Angeles
Number of Countries Visited: 36
Last Country Visited: China
What is your favorite country you have visited and why?
It’s hard to narrow my favorite country down to one, but Spain has always had a place in my heart. I love everything about it—the food, the shopping, the language, the cafes, the beauty of the people and the country, the beaches, the nightlife, etc. I also have friends who live there so I was able to experience it with locals and not so much as a tourist.
What is your least favorite country you have visited and why?
My least favorite country is not necessarily one that I didn’t enjoy but, rather, one that didn’t quite live up to the others that I have visited. It’s beautiful enough and has culture and an interesting history, but I wasn’t quite wow’d by Panama. I went to a beach city, Playa Blanca, which was nice enough and spent a few days in the city. The cityscape is picturesque, but it was a quiet time of year and I’m sure I didn’t get to experience it to its full potential.
What countries are on the itinerary for later this year and into next year?
I have Dubai, Iran, and the Scandinavian countries in mind for the following year. They may not have been on the top of my desired destinations list but I have friends and family who have provided the opportunity.
When did you start traveling? Did it start at an early age for you?
I started traveling when I was 17 when my parents took me to Hawaii. Then they took me to Spain because my uncle had an apartment there, and that’s when I fell in love, so I went back again and again, with different friends every time.
Why do you travel? What is your personal reason for traveling?
I travel because I like different adventures. I like to learn about different cultures, different foods, different languages. I like to shop for unique items, jewelry and clothing. The cityscapes, landscapes, and the people inspire my photography.
Why do you believe it’s important for others to travel and see the world?
Traveling is important because it trains you in life and gives you tools you wouldn’t learn any other way. You can learn who you are and how you get along with other cultures. You can learn to communicate in another language. You can learn about other currencies and how they relate to the dollar. You can handle yourself in situations of difficulty such as missing your flight or learning your way around foreign airports and streets. You can see different landscapes and architecture. You may get swindled and learn a lesson or you may learn the art of bargaining. You can learn about other cultures and their history. Some say the dislike of other people or ethnicities is just a fear or ignorance of the unknown.
As a native of another country, what are your thoughts on how travel is perceived in other countries versus the U.S.? Is there a difference?
I think the proximity of countries in other continents is conducive to more travel. For instance, in Europe, people speak more than one language and can easily travel through many countries in a matter of days. I also feel other countries are more curious and appreciative of other cultures in contrast to the U.S. where most are content to stay in their homeland for comfort, pride, and complacency. That’s a generalization, of course, but it may be somewhat true.
What inspires you about the travel experience?
The people, the food, and the vistas of each country. Photography is a passion of mine, and so capturing each country’s personality in a snapshot excites me the most.
What do you like least about travel?
If I could snap my fingers and appear in a different country, I would very much like that. I don’t like the logistics and the long flights involved in traveling.
As someone who is creative, how does that shape your views of the world? What types of sites and experiences do you look for when you travel?
Travel definitely shapes my views of the world simply by talking to people who take the time to educate me about their culture, government and their opinions on the US government and foreign policy. In contrast, I generally seek sites and experiences on a much lighter level. I prefer tropical and exotic destinations for rest and relaxation but also more fulfilling destinations to satisfy my thirst for “the different.” World Heritage sites are something I seek as well as quaint towns with lots of character.
How do you manage to travel with your career with very little time off? How do you manage your paid time off and what recommendations do you have for others?
I do not have paid time off but have a flexible career. I try to maximize on miles and reward programs and save as much as I can so that I would be able to travel to a couple major destinations per year. I recommend the same and suggest that you use every opportunity that’s handed to you – if you have friends or family who have invited you abroad, take advantage and go! You’ll save on your stay and have a local advantage in sightseeing.
How do you travel on a budget? In what ways are you able to maximize things like partnerships, points, etc.?
How I budget for travel is either by choosing countries that are not too expensive or looking for deals in tours or flights on various websites. I sometimes travel during low season, and I also try to accrue miles by signing up for new credit cards or spending on credit cards with great mileage programs.
What recommendations do you have for someone who is looking to be more adventurous and travel?
Save up and just do it! Do lots of Internet searching for deals. Visit friends and family in other countries to save on costs. Follow the itinerary of tours without actually booking the tour, hence saving on the extra expense.