Why I Travel: Elan Gale

Touring Versailles.
Touring Versailles.
Photo by Photo courtesy of Elan Gale.
The Bachelor Producer Talks Travel.

Elan Gale is best known for producing The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, but when he’s not sending couples to paradise, Gale plots how to get himself and his girlfriend, actress Molly Quinn, there with the help of Virtuoso travel advisor Stacy Small. “She knows my travel quirks and oddball curiosities,” says Gale, who appreciates how L.A.-based Small plans trips with enough flexibility to accommodate a wild left turn.

Where Next?

“I’m excited to go to Copenhagen, Finland, and Norway. I’m heading to New Zealand this winter. I want to return to Peru – not to see Machu Picchu, but rather, Urubamba, maybe the most magical place on earth. I’ve never seen anything like the salt mines there. I can’t stop envisioning it. Also, Chengdu, China, for the food.”

A lot of my taste in travel was dictated by the show. I was 23 when I started and got to go places I never would have thought of going: I wouldn’t have known about Saint Lucia; I probably wouldn’t have gone to Punta del Este; Buenos Aires wasn’t on my list. These work trips are almost like audition trips for me. You go to Fiji, you go to Tahiti, you know you’ll be back again.
 
I like to travel in very short spurts. Last year, Molly and I went to Paris for 48 hours. I spent 36 amazing hours in Anguilla. I’ve gone to Hong Kong for a day. Something about having a really tightly packed schedule adds to the excitement. We did one day in Tokyo, and had lunch at Sukiyabashi Jiro and dinner at Sushi Yoshitake. They’re the two hardest reservations in town, but also the best sushi meals you’ll have anywhere. I don’t need anything else after that. I’m done.

Elan Gale with girlfriend Molly Quinn in Sayulita, Mexico.
Elan Gale with girlfriend Molly Quinn in Sayulita, Mexico.
Photo by Photo courtesy of Elan Gale.

Stacy leaves no stone unturned. I was heading to Bangkok and called her on the way to the airport to say I’d heard about this unusual restaurant called Jok Kitchen. It’s in a private home down an alleyway and only has two tables. The 10-year-old son of the chef is the waiter, and they bring whatever they feel like making. I arrived at my room in The Peninsula and saw a note that Stacy had managed, through repeated calls, to get the only other table available for me. It was one of my favorite meals ever.
 
Sometimes the best meal is the papaya salad in a bag you buy for a dollar outside your hotel in Bangkok. Those kinds of surprises keep travel interesting. Always have a plan, but know the plan doesn’t matter. Someone tells you about an underground karaoke club, and next thing you know, you’re at the Gigàbar in Tokyo’s Minami-Aoyama district singing with a live band – and even though you can’t sing, they think you’re a rock star because you can pronounce all the English words.
 
Fine dining restaurants typically have one thing in common: bad coffee. Seek out the small shops with master baristas. My favorite places in the entire world are Menotti’s in Los Angeles – especially when Christopher “Nicely” Abel Alameda is pouring – and a place he recommended, Bear Pond Espresso in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo.
 
As far as packing goes, I’m very into my Timbuk2 backpack, and my Rimowa Salsa carbonite suitcase is super light and unbelievably durable. I bring ten pairs of ExOfficio underwear everywhere I go – that’s really all I need.
 
Aman Tokyo is my favorite hotel – they put apples in your shower! It sounds weird, but to stand in a black stone shower as you eat an apple nudely, gazing out a floor-to-ceiling window at the soul of Tokyo is a great way to start the day.”

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