Laura: “I miss the hype and excitement around planning for trips.”

We recently had the opportunity to speak to Laura Varadi, an App in the Air community member since 2018. She discovered the app while realizing she needed a better tool to get travel alerts. Read on to learn about her favorite destinations and travel tips.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m based in Romania and run customer support for a bank in the UK so am 100% remote. Previous to this I was in hospitality but once the pandemic hit, I ended up leaving that place for more flexibility. I actually found App in the Air in 2018. It was the very first time I traveled alone and internationally to London — I couldn’t find any information panels for my flight. It was a terrible experience so when I came back home, I discovered App in the Air and also realized it offered more than any other travel app. Now I’m a huge fan.

Tell us about your favorite travel destination.

Before the pandemic I traveled as much as I could, literally every few months. My favorite destination is hands down, Japan. I love visiting there and have amazing experiences everytime I go. I’ve always felt that you can find and explore something new there every time, compared to other places I’ve been. A place I often visit is Tsukuba which is about 60 km from Tokyo and dubbed the “engineers city.” It’s very foreigner friendly and my boyfriend is there, so that helps.

Tobu World Square in Japan

My second favorite is Nikko, a tiny mountain city, almost like a village, which has one of the largest and most beautiful national parks in Japan. There’s a really interesting place called Tobu World Square that has miniature versions of all the major tourist attractions of the world. You can literally find everything from around the world, including: Tower of Taipei, the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids, everything! It’s amazing to see.

There’s a really interesting place called Tobu World Square that has miniature versions of all the major tourist attractions of the world.

Do you have any favorite travel memories from Japan?

Honestly I just love everything about Japan! I remember once dropping my entire purse full of everything: phone, wallet, passport, hotel card, in the middle of the street in busy Tokyo on accident and a woman ran up behind me to hand it back to me. It’s a simple thing but makes me love the country so much more. Another time, my friends and I were trying to store our luggage in one of those coin lockers so we wouldn’t have to carry it around and of course we couldn’t understand it. An older man, maybe aged 70 or so, approached us and helped all throughout the process to make sure our luggage was safe and sound. Who does that?! It’s these travel experiences that I miss and can’t wait to experience again.

What advice would you give to a first time visitor?

As a first timer I would suggest going to Tokyo because it’s foreigner friendly and they speak good english. Kyoto is another city I’d suggest exploring. But of course I love the little villages throughout because they’re absolutely beautiful and very scenic. They also have a lot of onsens which are Japanese hot springs and everyone loves them. Interesting fact: you won’t be allowed to visit an onsen if you have any tattoos because they still associate them with the Yakuza.

Do you have a favorite airline?

For me it’s hands down, Lufthansa. My last trip they even had a master chef cooking for economy class which is very rare. Their service is great and consistent, the seats are awesome and like I said, the economy class has perks that I haven’t gotten with other airlines.

Where are you looking to go after the pandemic?

It’s been a year and three months since I’ve traveled, yes I’m counting! Of course I can’t wait to go back to Japan. After that I’d like to see South Korea because to me they’re like the open minded cousins of Japan. The food and country looks amazing and I’m also a fan of K-Pop culture. I definitely want to visit Seoul and check out a K-Pop concert if I can. Generally, I love Asia!

What do you miss about travel?

I miss the hype and excitement around planning for trips. It’s the packing, the experience there and even thinking about how I’ll spend my time during layovers. From where I live, I always have layovers, sometimes even two or more and they’re long. I usually drive to Budapest, about four hours away, and catch flights from there since they have better routes and times.

Now let’s play a game of this or that:

  • iPhone or Android: I’d say 90% iPhone and 10% Android honestly!
  • Airbus or Boeing: Boeing because of more space
  • Hotels or Airbnb: Hotels for me because in Japan they mostly have hotels, not many Airbnbs there
  • Fine dining or street food: Most of the time street food because that’s how you can sample the best of the local cuisine

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