Twelve Travel Questions with Casey Hatfield-Chiotti

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Name: Casey Hatfield-Chiotti
Home Base: Paris/San Diego
Last Trip: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Next Trip: Normandy, France
Website: travelproper.com
Facebookwww.facebook.com/Travelproper
Twitter: @caseyhatfield

1. What are three things you take on every trip? 

I’m a food and travel writer and I work anywhere and everywhere so my MacBook Air is a must. I always pack Nike running shoes, one of my favorite ways to experience any destination is by running from sight to sight, and I love to bring Justin’s Peanut Butter squeeze packs. Peanut butter is one of my favorite foods and it can be a difficult thing to find in certain parts of the world.

2. What is your best remedy for jet lag? 

I always set my watch to the time of our next destination when I get on the plane and, while I’m not a big proponent of prescription medication, I do take Ambien with me on most trips. It’s the one way I can ensure that I get on the right sleep schedule immediately.

3. What is the first thing you do when you get to a new place? 

I research the best bakery or coffee shop in the vicinity. I have to have good coffee in the morning and I absolutely love bakeries. My husband says I have a unique talent for sniffing them out and when we’re running I often screech to a halt when I spot or smell a good one. When I walk into a beautiful bakery or coffee shop anywhere in the world I instantly feel comforted and at home.

4. What place has the best food? The worst food? 

This is a tough one. I really think everyplace in the world has good food nowadays if you know where to go, and I enjoy so many different types of cuisine, but if I had to pick one I would say San Sebastián, Spain and the surrounding area. It is very, very hard to have a bad meal here. All the ingredients are so good–fresh seafood, Iberico pork, and padrón peppers, and at pretty much any tapas bar in the historic center of the city you can have an incredible meal standing up. Many Michelin star restaurants like Mugaritz and Arzak are also in San Sebastián and what may be the best steak restaurant in the world, Casa Julián, is in nearby Tolosa. I’d say the most mediocre food I’ve experienced traveling was in Tanzania. You can get decent Indian food and Ethiopian but no local cuisine really stood out for me. Let’s just say you don’t go for the food, but you should definitely still go!

5. What is one place that changed your outlook on life? 

Travel in general has helped define me as a person and it has taught me the most about life but this whole journey started when I lived abroad in London during college. I had lived in dorms and then a sorority house at the University of Colorado and this was the first time I was truly on my own. It was a very eye-opening experience. I traveled afterwards through Europe staying in hostels and I had a lot of crazy mishaps. It was very stressful at times, but it taught me to be resilient. I realized I could figure things out on my own and take care of myself.

6. What is your favorite travel quote? 

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain

7. Is there any music that inspires you to travel?

I’m not sure that music itself inspires me to do the traveling, I need very little prodding, but Ricky Lee Jones’ Flying Cowboys, Jenny Lewis’ The Voyager and Mumford & Sons’ Sigh No More are all albums that take you on a journey from beginning to end and I love listening to them while I’m traveling or on a road trip.

8. What is your craziest true travel story? 

I went to Bali with a friend of mine 7 or 8 years ago and it was by far the most arduous travel I’d done up until that point. Our flight path was from Portland, Oregon to San Francisco, San Francisco to Seoul, Seoul to Singapore, where we had a nine-hour layover before our flight to Bali. When we got to Singapore it was the middle of the night and I was completely out of it. My friend and I stopped to check our flight information at some computers and then got on a tram to get to our terminal. The airport shops and restaurants were closed, but we had all this time to kill so we went to a movie, walked around and then fell asleep on some chairs. We were woken up by airport security and they asked to see our passports. I looked in my purse and it wasn’t there. I frantically started looking through all my bags but I couldn’t find it anywhere. The security officers allowed me to go back to the movie theater to look, but it wasn’t there either. I felt sick to my stomach and I really thought I was going to be stranded in Singapore for days, but then the security officers called the airport information desk. Miraculously, they had it. It turns out I had left it by the computers in the other terminal and some nice person saw it and turned it in. I couldn’t even go pick it up right away because the tram didn’t run in the early hours of the morning. I don’t think I’ve ever been more relieved then when I finally got to the information desk and they handed me that passport.

9. How do you think that travel videos can be useful to travelers?

Seeing video of a beautiful place or someone experiencing a fantastic adventure just makes you want to go and do it yourself plain and simple. Great travel writing is also quite inspirational but video obviously brings a place alive more than other mediums can through images, natural sound and interviews.

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10. What is the goal/philosophy of your videos? 

I want my videos to inspire people to travel and give them itineraries that they can replicate. I don’t want travel to just be a fantasy that people dream of doing one day, I want to give them the tools and ideas to make it happen. Voyagez, the name of my series, is the vous or you imperative for the French verb for travel voyager so it can essentially be used to say Go Travel! and that’s exactly what I want to inspire people to do.

11. What advice do you have for someone who wants to make travel videos?

Just like with photography, you learn by doing so you just have to start shooting video. You can use your smartphone to begin. Focus on getting a variety of shots like close-ups, medium shots, wide shots, shots with some action, shots without any action and then practice editing it all together. If you like it and feel you’re getting the hang of it then consider investing in better equipment.

12. What is your best travel tip? 

I’m a big believer in doing research before you go on a trip, but my single biggest tip would just be to talk to a local when you get to a destination. No guidebook and few magazine articles are truly going to be able to tell you what is the latest, greatest thing because cities are constantly changing. If you have a friend there great, maybe there’s a cool bar at your hotel. If so, sit and have a drink and pick the bartender’s brain. You will have a much better trip if you get your nose out of the guidebook and figure out what locals are doing!

Watch travel videos by Casey Hatfield-Chiotti here.