Host of CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront,” Erin Burnett has reported from Cuba, Afghanistan and Israel. Traveling is a big part of her life and the journalist says she is close to reaching her goal of exploring 100 countries. “I’ve visited 90, and I know I’ll always want to see more,” says Burnett, who is based out of New York. “I have a folder where I save articles about places I want to go. It’s full of years of clippings that I enjoy reading through every few months and imagining destinations.” Fans may follow her on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ErinBurnett).Q. What places are left to round out that Top 100 list?
A. New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Philippines. I want to hike in New Zealand and see the land of the Hobbit.
Q. What untapped destination should people know about?
A. There are several! Of the accessible places, I’d suggest: Malta and Japan. Malta is an intoxicating mix of Christian and Muslim history — all this on a Mediterranean island. I cannot wait to return to Japan. I can still have a moment of true peace remembering visiting temples there. A few other places that come to mind that were transformational are Pakistan and Yemen. I traveled to Yemen alone after a work trip in the Middle East. I was filming there and I’ll always remember the young man who befriended me and took me to eat with his friends.
Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?
A. My love of travel began early. I had a great uncle who traveled the world and returned with photos and stories to share. I would listen to him for hours. When he died, I received his father’s sword. He was in the Navy. I treasure it as a symbol of exploring. My first trips were with my parents and my two sisters: we traveled across the country and to Europe, because my father had spent part of his childhood in France, while my grandfather was in the Navy. I remember moments from many places. I learned to whistle in a Mississippi hotel room on the day of Princess Diana’s wedding. And one of my first travel memories is learning to ask, “Ou sont les toilettes?” in French. I learned to ask, but not how to understand the reply and I got hopelessly lost (and ended up) on a construction site.
Q. Where is the most romantic destination?
A. Almost every destination has romance. One place I’ll always remember is Tahiti. My now-husband and I traveled there together, arriving at something like 4 a.m. We were able to rent our car and we drove straight to Teahupo’o, the famous surfing beach. We arrived as the sun was rising and, in addition to a couple of surfers from New Zealand, we noticed a few people with professional telescopes. It turned out we’d arrived on the day of a total solar eclipse. Someone had extra pairs of viewing glasses and we watched from the shore and from a boat with a local family that took us out amidst the massive waves. There were only a few people there. It was surreal and magical, and all the more for being serendipitous.
Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A. I used to travel on my own for a long weekend once a year. I have great memories of exploring a deserted glacier in Iceland at dusk, and taking a ferry from Helsinki, Finland to Tallinn, Estonia. With young children I haven’t had those trips in a few years, but one day I’ll be back at it!
Q. If you’ve ever gone away for the holidays, what was the best trip?
A. My family and I spent Christmas at Smoke Tree Ranch in California one year when one of my sisters lived on the West Coast. It was a totally different experience for us and fun to roast marshmallows on Christmas Eve. I also spent my honeymoon in the Seychelles for a warm weather Christmas. It was a wonderful reminder that holidays are about where the heart is.
Q. What are your favorite cities?
A. Too hard to pick! New York is home. It’s energizing. It’s a crossroads of the world. Dubai is my most visited city outside the U.S., and I will never tire of sitting below the Burj Khalifa at night and watching the lights sparkle. Lisbon is old and cozy, but full of energy. London. I spent a semester in England for college and returning always brings back that feeling of excitement and possibility.
Q. What would be your dream trip?
A. A totally safe trip to Mars with my kids that can be done in a few months’ time. That’s something that could be achievable in our lifetimes, right?
Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you’re on the road?
A. My co-workers will all tell you that when we’re on assignment anywhere in the U.S., I’m on the lookout for McDonald’s. My go-to order is a Quarter Pounder with cheese with fries — and a chocolate sundae afterward.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow “Go Away With…” on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)
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