Go Away With … Lauren Weisberger

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Content Agency
August 16, 2016

Lauren Weisberger’s best-selling debut novel, “The Devil Wears Prada,” was set in the not-always glamorous fashion industry. Her latest — “The Singles Game” (Simon and Schuster) — focuses on international tennis.

After college, Weisberger backpacked around various parts of the world, including Europe, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Thailand, India, Nepal and Hong Kong.

The author, 39, resides in Fairfield County, Connecticut, with her husband and children. Fans may stay in touch with her via Twitter.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. I think probably my favorite all-around vacation destination is Anguilla. My husband and I were first there nearly nine years ago for our wedding. Whenever we go back, it makes us remember that incredible weekend. I love the beaches and the welcoming locals and the huge variety of great restaurants.

Q. To someone who was going to Anguilla for the first time, what would you recommend that they do during their visit?
A. First and foremost, rent a Jeep and plan to use it! Unlike so many Caribbean islands where visitors check into their resort and never leave, Anguilla is safe and accessible to explore. There are tons of great beach and private coves to visit, plus loads of excellent restaurants, bars and great live music to enjoy. Of course there are first-rate hotels, but on an island with this much to do, it’s not necessary to keep yourself locked away in one of them.

Q. What untapped destination should people know about?

A. It’s not exactly what I’d call convenient, but Bhutan was probably the most incredible place I’ve ever visited. They strictly limit tourism, so that combined with its remote location in the Himalayas definitely qualifies it as untapped. When I went we stayed in a series of lodges and moved from one to the next every couple days. It allowed my husband and me to explore so many different parts of the country, from the religious festivals in Paro to the bustling metropolis (with one traffic light) in Thimphu. The monasteries all welcomed us with open arms to meet the monks and learn more about the religion, as did all the Bhutanese people we met. It is a kind, gentle and spectacularly beautiful place to visit — one that’s rich with so much culture.

Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?

A. The first trip that I really remember taking as a child was to visit my grandparents in Palm Springs, California. They lived in one of those gated communities where every single person basically just golfs all the time. We took a day trip to Disneyland, which I distinctly remember. I was four years old and my mother was eight months pregnant with my sister. She, my father and I decided we’d go on a ride called Space Mountain. We thought it was a space museum ride, where you quietly move through a nice, air-conditioned exhibit on outer space. Uh-huh. I’ll never forget when that car began to climb straight up. In seconds it was hurtling through the pitch blackness and everyone was screaming and my parents were yelling and I was crying. When it was finally over, there was a nurse with a wheelchair waiting to help my very pregnant mother off the ride. To this day, I have no idea why they let my mom on or who called for someone to help her afterward. Needless to say, I’ve hated roller coasters ever since.

Q. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your travels?

A. Perspective. There is nothing like getting on a plane and plopping down in the middle of a foreign country with a different language and unrecognizable food and entirely strange customs to make you realize how very small your own little world is back at home. It’s so easy to get caught up in our own day-to-day dramas, but only travel can make you understand firsthand how absolutely enormous the world is and how filled to the brim it is with people having experiences that are entirely different from your own.

Q. What are your five favorite cities?

A. New York, Tel Aviv, Bangkok, London, Saigon.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A. The list isn’t sexy, but it’s the truth: ear plugs, a noise machine and Ambien. I have a really hard time sleeping in strange places and loud hotel rooms, so I bring every possible item to ensure success.

Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you’re on the road?

A. Travel is the best excuse for guilty pleasures! Where to begin? US Weekly and Bloody Marys on the plane; margaritas on the beach; chips and guac in every Spanish-speaking country; cigarettes in European capitals; gelato in Italy; noodles of every type, size and sauce in Asia.

Q. What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?

A. Best vacation memory hands down was going on safari in Botswana and South Africa for our honeymoon and then following it up with a week in the Maldives. That trip was unstoppable. Worst vacation memory is also easy: hanging out in a bomb shelter in the ’90s in Tel Aviv while Saddam Hussein launched Scud missiles into Israel. But I’d still go back there in a heartbeat, any chance I got.

Q. What are your favorite restaurants?
A. Although I love big group meals and celebration meals and fancy romantic meals, my favorite places are usually the dive joints with good food: ratty beachside lobster shacks; rundown bars with great burgers; super local Chinese food places with no menus in English. I always joke that Zagat’s is my perfect guide:

Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?
A. I do some preliminary internet research, just for some ideas on what to see and where to eat. But I like to mostly discover things once I’ve arrived, so I don’t buy guidebooks or anything like that. Ideally, I’ll be able to read a great work of fiction set in the location before I visit-that’s the best glance short of going there.

Q. Where have you traveled to that most reminded you of home?
A. I have never gone anywhere that reminds me of home, which I think is a good thing. I’m traveling to see places that are totally different from home.

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?
A. The question really should be where, where don’t I want to go that I haven’t been before? Seriously, I want to go everywhere I’ve never been. Probably very first on the list would be China. Followed closely by Japan, Russia, Australia and assorted South American countries.

Q. Where is the most romantic destination?
A. Anywhere without children! Seriously, it really doesn’t matter where it is. My husband and I try to get away for one short visit a year without kids and we always have a great time. We’ve been to London, Puerto Rico, Cabo San Lucas, Florida — the where is really beside the point. Just being able to sleep, travel with only carry-on luggage and not pack sippy cups is all that matters.

Q. What are your favorite hotels?
A. I’m not going to lie. I like fancy, fancy, fancy. The fluffier the towels, the happier I am. I most love when they’re immaculate and modern and luxurious-a Mandarin Oriental or an Aman will win me over every time. But I’m happy with quiet and old-fashioned as well, so long as it’s comfortable. My worst hotel nightmares are trendy places with hordes of partiers and loud music. I spent the worst weekend of my life at the Gansevoort in South Beach.

Q. If you’ve ever gone away for the holidays, which was the best trip?
A. This is a tough one to answer. Basically, we do go away every holiday, but I’m not sure it counts as “vacation.” Since we’re Jews who live in the Northeast, we make the typical migration to South Florida every December to visit parents and grandparents. We typically fly on Christmas Day, because the flights aren’t so packed and we spend our time ping-ponging between Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Boca Raton and Del Ray visiting the rest of the family. It’s always stressful and lovely and filled with lots of eating and beaches and fighting and playing. It’s Christmas in South Florida!

Q. Have you traveled to a place that stood out so much that you felt compelled to incorporate it into your work?
A. So many! I love traveling pretty much more than anything, so most of the places I visit find their way into my books. I’ve mentioned various places in Southeast Asia, Bhutan, India, the Caribbean, Mexico and a ton of cities in Europe.

Q. What would be your dream/fantasy trip?
A. The list is long and it’s hard to pick one. The trip I’d most like to do as a family would either be Alaska or the Galapagos. As a couple, it would be really hard to turn down a trip to Bali: roaming through the craft markets in Ubud, looking out over the rice paddies, scuba diving off the beaches. From an adventure standpoint, I’m dying to see Antarctica.

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A. My favorite weekend getaways are always the opposite of wherever I’m currently residing. So in the sixteen years I lived in New York, I’d always want a quick weekend in the country, somewhere with heaps of snow or beautiful foliage, a roaring fire and a peaceful country lake. Now that I live in the ‘burbs, the best weekend getaway is the city: shows, restaurants open past nine, food delivered to your hotel room on a whim. It doesn’t get better than that.

© 2016 JAE-HA KIM

Comments (1)

  1. Jean Blair says:

    This is for Lulu and Peggy

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