Why I Travel - Airbnbmag
Illustrations by Michael Gillette. Photo by Conny Trumann.
Illustrations by Michael Gillette. Photo by Conny Trumann.

By the Airbnbmag Staff

Issa Rae, Adam Grant, and Ariel Levy—three writers whose work challenges you to open your mind—share the trips that moved them.

Issa Rae

Producer, actor, and writer
Issa Rae

What trip changed your life?
Going back to Dakar, Senegal—where my father is from—when I was in college changed my outlook in terms of recognizing where and who I came from. There's nothing like reconnecting with your family, spending a summer speaking a language you don't usually get to speak, and appreciating your roots. I had been there when I was younger, but there was something magical about being there, willingly, in my twenties.

Food worth traveling for?
Oh, my God, the street fish in Phuket, Thailand. Hands down.

Who'd you invite on your next trip?
Abbi and Ilana from Broad City. Can I count them as one?

Best Airbnb experience?
New Year's Eve weekend, I rented a house in Malibu to finish writing the first episode of our second season of  Insecure. The owner of the house had watched the show and was supersweet—she baked me cookies! It was the perfect getaway, and I finished writing.

Where have you felt like a local?
London. I was just walking, working, and writing, like I would do here in L.A.

Top on your list of must-go places?
Ghana. I've only been to my own country in Africa, and I want to change that.

Book recently read while traveling?
Michael Crichton's  Travels.

Issa Rae, a native of Los Angeles, is the executive producer, star, and writer of HBO's Insecure and the author of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl (37Ink/Atria Books).

Adam Grant

Professor and author
Adam Grant

What trip changed your life?
In college, I took a bus from Boston to Mexico and swapped books with fellow travelers. Favorite authors gave us an instant connection. I came back convinced that books had to be a bigger part of my life—not just reading them but writing them.

What book has been transformative?
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. I felt like I was really in battle school.

Top on your list of must-go places?
Iceland—for the natural beauty and the culture. Favorite Icelandic saying: “Better to go barefoot than without books.”

Who'd you invite on your next trip?
J.K. Rowling. Along with telling tales of wizards, she delivers snarky smackdowns of misogynist men.

Adam Grant teaches at University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. He is the author, with Sheryl Sandberg, of Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy (Knopf).

Ariel Levy

Author
Ariel Levy

What trip changed your life?
The first time I went to South Africa, I went on assignment. I was reporting from a country where I knew nobody. I was so scared I'd blow it. When it came together, I felt like it was the beginning of my adult life as a writer.

Food worth traveling for?Pizza at Dar Poeta in Rome.

Who'd you invite on your next trip?
I would like to take Michelle Obama to a spa. I'd say she's earned it.

Best Airbnb experience?
I use Airbnb to rent out my house on Shelter Island. My tenants last summer found a missing spring for my refrigerator door, which had driven me insane for years. God, I loved those chicks!

Where have you felt like a local?
I spend a fair amount of time in South Africa, in a little town called McGregor. It's incredibly beautiful, surrounded by mountains and full of classic old Cape Dutch houses with thatched roofs. The last time I went for a walk there, I realized I'd been on every single street.

Top on your list of must-go places?
I'd like to see Denali National Park in Alaska while we still have it.

Book recently read while traveling?
I read Elizabeth Strout's  Anything Is Possible from start to finish on the last flight I took. I left it in the seat pocket for the next person, because she's the kind of writer you want to share.

Ariel Levy lives in New York. She is the author of The Rules Do Not Apply (Random House) and a staff writer at The New Yorker.

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