Nicole Isaacs is a travel and food connoisseur from Los Angeles, Calif. She is a former member of the girl band, Soccx, and has also produced the show Fashion Police for the E! Network. Today, Isaacs shares her adventures with the world on Miss Jetsetter, covering her travels from London to the Philippines and more.
Name: Nicole Isaacs
Profession: Travel & Food Blogger
Pack light and only what’s necessary. Forget the millions of outfit options you think you need because you will almost always end up with a pile of unnecessary and unworn clothes that just take up space in a suitcase. It feels so good when you don’t have too much luggage and it just makes everything easier. And, as obvious at this may be, do your research before traveling to your destination. Buy a travel guide or work your Google skills to learn about the history and culture of the city. Make a list of the best things to see and do, and great local restaurants to try. Once you are there, talk to the locals. Find out their favorite places to hang and eat and what they like to do for fun. It gives you a different perspective when you immerse yourself in a culture, rather than just hitting up the known tourist attractions.
Favorite travel memory?
This is such a hard one to answer! I have too many so I’m going to list my top three: One of the most magical moments was being on top of Machu Picchu walking through the clouds as the sun was rising — it was breathtaking. Another was visiting a Masai village in Lake Natron, Tanzania. The locals brought me inside their huts and showed me how they live. They dressed me in traditional Masai clothing and performed traditional dances. It was really special and an incredibly eye opening experience to be able to partake in a culture so different than mine. Last honorable mention was riding an elephant through the jungle in Chang Mai, Thailand.
Bucket List Destination?
I have a LONG travel bucket list. The destinations that are on the top right now are the Maldives, Turkey, Dubai, Morocco and Australia.
Favorite off-the-beaten-path spot?
There is a small village called Oia in Santorini, Greece. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. I walked through the small town during golden hour and watched the sunset as I was having dinner on the water. Every corner you turned looked like a postcard.
What kind of traveler are you?
Adventurous. I am a free spirit and always open and willing to trying anything at least once — even if it scares me. Whether I’m trying a traditional food like Belut in the Philippines (duck embryo), eating Haggis and Black pudding in Scotland (animal intestines mixed with blood and oats) or swimming with sharks, I am all about getting out of my comfort zone.
Funniest travel story?
In 2007, I was in a girl band living in Berlin and traveling to Amsterdam by train with a friend. We had a show in the German countryside, in a rural town about six hours from Berlin. Our tour manager dropped us at the closest train station, it was pouring rain and there was not a soul in sight. We said goodbye to our manager and the rest of the girls in our band, who were headed back to Berlin. It was a Sunday, so the station was desolate; there was only one train every couple hours. I remember sitting there freezing, waiting for the train and trying to stay dry. The town felt dreary and creepy — we did not see one person while we were waiting for the train (which seemed like forever).
Finally the train came. While en route to the next stop, a train officer came around to check tickets. We could barely understand him, but he explained twe had purchased the wrong tickets to Amsterdam and that we had to get off at the next stop to buy the correct ones. My friend and I ran off the train at the next stop to buy the correct tickets with only a few minutes to do so before the train took off again. If we missed that train, there wouldn’t be another train to Amsterdam until the next day. No one worked at this train station, being that we were in a ghost town in the middle of nowhere — there were only ticket machines. We were under pressure, and, of course, the ticket machine was in German. We were struggling, trying to figure out which tickets to buy. We finally managed to buy the right ones and as we were rushing back up to the train platform, we heard the sound of the train engine start. We ran as if our lives depended on it and made it by the skin of our teeth. We jumped on the back of the train and realized there was no one else in our train compartment. We looked through the corridors and saw people a few compartments ahead of us and started walking through the train to get to where the other people were. We got to the last empty train compartment right before the car with all the people, and just as I was approaching the door, the train detached and departed.
My friend and I were stuck on the last detached compartment of the train and watched the rest of the train depart right before our eyes … literally. It felt like it was happening in slow motion and we both just stood there shocked, defeated and in utter disbelief. The worst part: We were locked inside the detached train. Like I said before, we were in a ghost town and there were no people around. My friend started hysterically laughing and crying at the same time and I had a panic attack. We were stuck in the train for nearly 30 minutes yelling and banging on the windows until we finally saw a train worker and got his attention from down the track. We were stranded in the middle of nowhere with no more trains going to Amsterdam and hours away from Berlin. In the end, long story short, we found a cab and drove the rest of the way through the German countryside to Amsterdam and made it there by early evening. My Amsterdam experience is another story in itself; let’s just say it was quite the adventure! My friend and I will always remember (and laugh about) our struggle getting to Amsterdam.
Best meal you’ve had on your travels?
I’ve had so many amazing meals while traveling. One of my favorites is an ahi tuna wrap I had at Kilauea Fish Market in Kauai. The Kilauea Fish Market is off the beaten path — about a 20-minute drive from the St. Regis Hotel in Princeville, Kauai, where I stayed. It was on a dirt lot which felt like the middle of nowhere and I remember random chickens walking around. You order at a deli-looking counter and there are a couple wooden tables outside. They offer all types of fish fresh out the ocean, but they are known for the ahi tuna wrap. The ahi was seared warm and wrapped in a thin tortilla with oriental sesame dressing, cabbage/cucumber/carrot slaw and brown rice. The sesame sauce gave the wrap incredible flavor, the brown rice was warm and the fresh tuna melted in your mouth. It all worked together perfectly, and it was light and delicious. I went back for seconds on the last day of my trip because it was that good.
Craziest thing you’ve done while traveling?
When I was on the island of Cebu in the Philippines, I swam with whale sharks during a storm. The ocean was choppy and it was pouring rain. I only had one chance to do it because I was on my way to the airport traveling to another island. I decided it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I braved the weather and it was one of the craziest and coolest experiences of my life. Whale sharks are massive. I was swimming a foot away from them and a couple times they brushed me while they swam past. It was such an adrenaline rush and not going to lie, a little frightening … but they are harmless. They are absolutely spectacular and beautiful creatures.
Favorite item collected from your travels?
The items that mean the most to me are my pictures. A picture can ignite your memory, senses and even taste buds. Pictures let me relive my adventures so that to me is the most valuable takeaway.
I’m in the middle of researching my next travel adventure! I’m looking into Dubai and the Maldives, or doing Southeast Asia and visiting the Malaysian Islands and Cambodia. I’m planning on leaving on my next trip in a couple of weeks so time is ticking to choose … but with me, it’s always a game time decision.
When it comes to local, authentic tapas bars in the capital of Catalonia, they can be considered a dime a dozen. There are loads of options to choose from, so many so the average visitor to Barcelona can be completely confused as to where to even begin a search for pan con tomate. But one unsuspecting gem in the trendy neighborhood of El Born features a no-fuss, no-nonsense approach to traditional Spanish tapas, adding an extra touch of authenticity with the homemade cava.
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Hotels, airlines and travel companies are constantly looking for the best way to offer guests unique and memorable experiences. One of the latest ways hotels have expanded guests’ cultural exposure is through specialty concierges, or on-hand experts who can arrange bespoke travel experiences for individuals or groups.