Paula Froelich used to be a gossip columnist. Not just any gossip columnist — the deputy editor of the New York Post’s Page Six. And then she quit. Without a plan. Without another job lined up. Why? Because Froelich is one of those enviable people who had a dream and went for it, giving up a seemingly ideal job to do something that she’d wanted to do since she was a kid: travel.
When she left New York, she had no idea she’d return and have the chance to helm Yahoo! Travel, where she’s been editor-in-chief since the spring of 2014. She just wanted to ride a camel, as she says in one of the first columns of her A Broad Abroad web series of stories and videos. She wanted to be brave again. And we know the feeling. There’s something about travel that builds muscle—the kind that opens your mind and your heart. That’s one of the reasons I find it so important to take my kids with me when I travel.
In the two years that Paula’s been at Yahoo! Travel, she’s continued to be fearless. She’s spent a night as a man in London, wrestled with a luchador in Mexico, gone behind the veil in the Middle East, and surfed (and later thrown up from motion sickness) with Eric Ripert. We spoke to her recently to find out more about what keeps her going.
Most memorable travel moment:
There are so many! They usually involve life-changing realizations, new friends, and possibly a bottle of Johnnie Walker.
Most embarrassing travel moment:
Being caught with my pants down, literally, in India, by an entire village in Rajasthan.
Name one thing people would be surprised to find in your travel bag:
Nicotine mints. I live on them.
Touristy spot that’s actually worth it, and the trick to doing it right:
San Juan: If you know the right places and the right people, it is heaven. Puerto Vallarta: Leave the resorts and go on the street taco tour. Also, Paris…because you can never go wrong with French food.
Non-touristy spot everyone should add to their must-visit list:
Kurdistan in Northern Iraq is lovely—and safe.
Name the indispensable apps you use when you travel:
Uber, Currency (the currency exchange app), and Kayak
The travel gadget or gear that has saved your life…or your mind:
Is an iPhone travel gear? I am obsessed with my Skullcrusher headphones, as they drown out all noise and everyone/thing!
Choose any two travel-world bloggers and tell us the most important thing you’ve learned from each:
Whose tweets do you find the most useful and entertaining when you see them in your feed?
Name one way the travel industry can do better:
I’m a huge fan of better customer service: putting customers first and treating them well. For example, the Four Seasons: They have lovely customer service and always remember your name and preferences, even if you haven’t stayed with them for years. If there’s an issue, they take care of it immediately and don’t make you feel odd or weird. They also don’t overcharge or upsell like some other hotels. There is one upscale chain I’m thinking of that overcharges for Wi-Fi, doesn’t put coffee machines in the room, and charges you for every single thing so that at the end of the day, it’s basically double per night than the quoted rate. It’s annoying, especially when Holiday Inn gives free Wi-Fi. If I had the money, I would always stay at a Four Seasons— because they earned it.
Look into the future and describe one aspect of travel that you think will be different in 20 years:
There will be no TVs or phones in the room. You can control everything from your iPhone. There will also be Star Trek transporters. Hopefully.
Most effective thing you’ve ever said or done to get an upgrade or a special perk while traveling:
Be nice. It works.
To make friends, I always carry:
Wi-Fi and the speed of travel
If you were in my car during a road trip, you’d hear me singing:
Anything found on the Dwight Yoakam iTunes radio station
The airplane movie that, unexpectedly, made me bawl was:
Bridesmaids. I blame lack of oxygen.
When I travel, I’m not afraid of:
…but I am afraid of:
Sharks, crocodiles, and pigeons. I really hate pigeons.