Travel writer Pauline Frommer is one of the best known names in the travel industry. She co-hosts a weekly nationally syndicated radio travel show with her father, Arthur, and is the author of the best selling guidebook, “Frommer’s EasyGuide to New York City 2016”. Pauline has been traveling since she was a child, and has two daughters of her own, so she has plenty of advice for family travel on a budget.
Travel Advice and Tips with Pauline Frommer
Every year the Travel and Adventure Show comes through Chicago showcasing travel destinations from around the world and featuring some of the foremost experts on travel. I had the opportunity to visit for the first time last year and was completely blown away, not only by the number of exhibits, but by the sheer amount of travel knowledge I came away with that day. I was fortunate enough to hear Pauline Frommer speak last year and share her amazing budget travel tips with the attendees, so when the opportunity arose to interview Pauline, I jumped at the chance.
I reached out to several fellow Traveling Moms to ask for questions they wanted me to ask of Pauline and together we came up with 10 questions we wanted to ask.
1. Is there one place you haven’t been that you would love to write a guide book about?
(This is one question where it would have helped to do some background research). We do guide books in a way that other companies don’t. We don’t send people traveling to write guide books, we hire locals, experts who are on the ground. I am the author of the “Easy Guide to New York City” because I’ve lived in New York City my whole life. At Frommer’s we believe to write a guide you really need to be embedded in the destination. We find expats in destinations around the world to write their guidebooks. People will often ask me how to become a professional guidebook writer and I tell them to move to a country where they don’t speak English because you’ll be very much in demand.
2. What are three things you always pack no matter where you travel? The catch is you can’t say something technology related.
I always pack a snack because I always get delayed and I don’t always like the options at the airport. I also pack a book or the New Yorker. The third thing I always pack is…underwear? (She says with a giggle). Yes, a change of underwear. I pack extremely lightly. I don’t want to be a slave to my suitcase.
3. What’s one travel tip you learned the hard way?
Don’t forget your toothbrush! My new year’s resolution was to have a dedicated travel toothbrush that I only use when I travel. (Yep, it happens to the best of us).
4. What is your number one tip for traveling families?
Give your children a travel allowance at the start of each trip so they know how much they can spend and they are in charge of it. If they are going to buy souvenirs they know what amount they have and they aren’t always asking throughout the trip. It’s also a great way for them to learn to budget and it makes my life a lot easier.
5. Do you have a favorite destination you like to return to again and again?
No. No. I get really bored. I do have places I return to again and again to visit family. If it’s my choice I always want to go somewhere new.
6. So many Americans don’t travel, especially internationally. What do you think the travel industry could do better to encourage more Americans to explore the world?
Well, that’s a real bug-a-boo, especially for families. I don’t know if the travel industry should do something or the education system. I think there’s a lot of fear. Honestly a lot of parts of the world are safer than the United States. I would like to get that word out. I do a weekly radio show and I’m constantly fielding questions about whether or not destinations are safe. I think there’s a lot of fear out there.
7. Is there any destination you don’t have a desire to visit again?
I’ll get into trouble over this. When I was in my twenties and I was an actor I did a show in Akron, Ohio and I have no desire to ever go back to Akron. The Hall of Rubber Museum was interesting, but I think it might be closed. That was kind of the most interesting thing about Akron.
8. What do you splurge on when you travel?
Meals. I love having a good meal. Although in certain destinations you get the best meals having street food. I was recently in Taiwan and the stuff I got at the night market beat anything I got in a restaurant. This isn’t true at every destination, but in some places you do better with the cheap eats.
9. What’s one trend you have seen improve travel through the years and one that has made it worse?
I really like airbnb and the sites that allow you to easily to stay in other people’s homes. Honestly it did exist before, and I did it before the internet made it so easy. I spend so much time on the road I really love being in the neighborhood and meeting real people. I took my father all around Poland and we stayed in Gdansk and the woman we rented an apartment from filled it with toys for my daughter. Definitely not something you would get at a hotel.
What do I think has gotten worse? You have to realize I’ve been traveling since I was 4 months old. I remember being in St. Mark’s Square, feeding the pigeons, being the only American and not having the crowds around. Certain destinations are just getting loved to death.
10. Where do you think families on a budget should head in 2016?
The dollar is insanely strong. The Canadian loonie is trading at $1.40, so everything is 40% cheaper in Canada right now. If you ever wanted to go across the border and see the incredible French cities of Montreal and Quebec City or visit the Canadian Rockies and see Banff and Jasper, this is the year to do it. Your dollar is so strong.
My second choice would be the U.S. National Parks as they celebrate their 100th anniversary. There will be special celebrations year round and a lot of projects were scheduled to be completed this year. Expect newly cleaned trails, lodges with renovations, everything will be a little nicer in the parks this year. The parks are always the number one value for families. The rangers have put a lot into getting the parks ready this year and I think this year they will be particularly special.
Pauline was so gracious and we really had a lovely conversation. I look forward to meeting her when she comes through Chicago at the end of January and I highly encourage others to find a Travel and Adventure show near you. Believe me, it is time well spent.
Pauline Frommer is the Co-President of Frommer Media LLC, the family-owned business behind the Frommer guidebooks and Frommers.com. She co-hosts, with her father Arthur Frommer, a nationally syndicated, weekly 2-hour radio show on travel and writes an internationally syndicated newspaper column for King Features. She is the author of the current best selling guidebook to New York City “Frommer’s EasyGuide to New York City 2016” and Editorial Director for all the Frommer guides. Pauline was Travel Editor for MSNBC.com for several years and the first Editor-in-Chief for Frommers.com. She’s won numerous awards for her writing and editing from the Society of American Travel Writers, the North American Travel Journalists Association and the Webby Awards. She’s been honored to be asked to speak at the National Press Club and the Smithsonian. You may recognize her face as Pauline appeared on CNN’s Headline News for several years, presenting weekly travel segments. She’s also guested on The Today Show, Live with Regis and Kelly, The O’Reilly Report, Good Morning America, NPR’s Talk of the Nation, FOX, MSNBC, CNN and pretty much every local news station you can name. She is married to physical therapist Mahlon Stewart and the mother to two very well-traveled daughters.