“I was actually planning to live in Paris for a month, something that I’ve always wanted to do as a sort of ‘Eat Pray Love’ era for myself, before settling down with a family,” said Megan Batoon, one of the three hosts of the new Netflix travel series, “The World's Most Amazing Vacation Rentals.” “I saw a notification pop up on my phone as I was doing the dishes the other day and just laughed as I loaded the dishwasher and fell asleep in my bed, which was not in France.” Based out of Los Angeles, the 30-year-old social media influencer shares her travels on Twitter (https://twitter.com/meganbatoon), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/MeganBatoonFP/) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/meganbatoon/).
Q: What have you learned about traveling from your experience shooting "The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals"?
A: I’ve learned that there is always more to see. We traveled and shot so ambitiously that it was nice to be able to see so much of the world in such a short time. But some of the most memorable moments were walking around and discovering small gems and coffee shops that aren’t on any travel guide and you could only find if you strolled around town aimlessly.
Q: This pandemic has made everyone think differently about how we spend our vacation time. Besides this Netflix series, what have you been up to travel-wise?
A: The only traveling I’ve done aside from trips to the refrigerator between Zoom meetings is a few hour drives for upcoming vacation rental projects that I’m designing. Other than that, my main way of feeling on vacation is to turn my phone off, blast music and get lost in DIY projects from the comfort of my own home.
Q: How do you balance having fun as a tourist with also being mindful of the culture you are visiting?
A: It all comes down to mindset. We are visitors in others’ homes. There’s a level of respect that is mandatory when traveling to foreign places. I think a great way to have fun while being a tourist and respecting the culture is to get involved in the lifestyle. I’ve enjoyed cooking classes that pay people to teach their traditions and I love thrift shopping for souvenirs, because it’s sustainable and helps the economy simultaneously.
Q: What kind of vacation rental is a disaster for you?
A: One with a kitchen that doesn’t have any cookware! I cook everywhere I go. I love to use the local ingredients and make a dish inspired by the place and it makes me so sad when there isn’t a pan or anything to play around with (that would) make you feel like you’re home anywhere in the world.
Q: What is your favorite vacation destination?
A: I’ve been going to New York every year right before I visit my family for Christmas, and I think it’s such a unique town with so much to experience and see. I would suggest not going to the tourist traps – unless you really want to see Times Square and the Statue of Liberty. Where the city of New York really thrives is in its street culture of vintage stores, the amount of adorable brunch spots, underground music shows, the comedy scene, bookstores, escape rooms, getting lost in the streets listening to the “Hamilton” soundtrack … I could go on for days. Highly recommend it!
Q: What untapped destination should people know about?
A: When traveling for the show, I really loved Canggu in Indonesia. Before this experience, I thought of Bali as one type of tropical honeymoon destination with huts on clear blue waters, but it’s so much more than that. Bali has so many different types of cities from absolute paradise to a bustling, but more laid-back, Los Angeles vibe. I would go back to Canggu in an instant.
Q: What was the first trip you took as a child?
A: The first trip I remember taking as a child was a road trip to Mount Rushmore. I can’t remember a single thing aside from the footage I recorded on my first camcorder. I was documenting all the way back then. I remember being so much enamored with capturing the feeling of the trip from the backseat of a family car, but not so much about the actual destination.
Q: Where is the most romantic destination?
A: Everyone always says Paris for good reason, but I loved San Miguel de Allende near Mexico City. I took a trip with my partner and took the sheets and pillows from the bed and slept on the rooftop of our rental, waking up to the sounds of a lively town coming alive while hot air balloons dotted the sky in front of the beautiful cathedral in the distance. It was magical.
Q: Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?
A: I’d love to visit Australia, New Zealand and see the beaches in the Philippines. I’ve only been to Manila.
Q: What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?
A: Anytime I’m listening to music in the sun and eating incredible food with friends is the best vacation memory. The worst vacations are the ones where they’re so packed full of excursions and things to do that you need to book a recovery vacation after your first vacation.
(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.)
©2021 Jae-Ha Kim. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.(c) 2021 DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.