SmartFlyer’s Director, Erina Pindar, oversees the company’s Affiliate, Industry Relations, and Communications Programs, as well as designing travel for SmartFlyer’s VIPs. Erina calls New York City home, but has also lived in Jakarta and Singapore. She was voted as one of Travel Agent Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 in 2010 and has spoken at the New York Times Travel Show and International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) on social media & travel. A self-professed social-media fan, you can connect with Erina on Twitter.
1. When were you bitten by the travel bug? Was it primarily for work or leisure?
I’ve had a passport since day one (thanks, mom and dad!). It’s not so much being bitten by the travel bug as it is about living with it and trying to get it under control! For me, travel is a lifestyle. I can’t live without it.
2. Describe your most gratifying cultural experience.
I can’t think of one off the top of my head at the moment, but I can tell you a few of my favorite travel experiences lately. Being introduced to Tokyo’s Shinjuku Golden Gai in March was really cool. Golden Gai is a small area in Shinjuku composed of alleys and passageways that house over 200 tiny (fit 6 people at most!) shanty style bars and eateries. Also, snorkeling through cenotes (underground lakes) in Playa del Carmen was unbelievable and a beautiful experience. Hiking and watching the sky burn red then mellow out to a picturesque purple during sunset in Canyon Point in Southern Utah.
3. How has traveling affected your personal character and overall world view? Has it changed how you see/interact with people?
I found that regardless of backgrounds, budgets, etc… travel is usually a common thread. Most people love the idea of an adventure, discovering new places, if you ask someone what’s on their bucket list you’ll probably find a few things in common – which makes for a great ice breaker. Having an open mind is quite possibly the most important thing about traveling well. Lastly, the world is filled with unbelievably amazing, generous, creative souls – I’ve met so many along the way and that wouldn’t have been possible without travel.
4. Have you become fluent in any languages aside from your native tongue? How has the ability to communicate been particularly valuable?
I was born in Jakarta, so I do speak and read Bahasa, but these days with a heavy American accent. A few years ago, while shopping in Jakarta and thinking that I was speaking Bahasa fluently, the sales assistant graciously interrupted me and proceeded to complete the rest of the transaction in English!
5. What would you recommend for the budding traveler?
A few things:
1) If you don’t already have one, get yourself a passport, you never know when the urge or opportunity to escape the country will hit!
2) Invest in a good set of luggage, I love TUMI Vapor and Rimowa, these are stylish suitcases that can take serious beatings. They’re expensive, but worth every single penny, I’ve taken mine around the world one too many times over the years!
3) Figure out your preferred airline and loyalty program, and/or get yourself a credit card with a good point/mileage program. My favorites are Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Delta American Express. After all, if you’re going to spend you might as well get rewarded for it!