Go Away With ... Kari Byron

"Mythbusters" star and "Crash Test Girl" author Kari Byron says that the internet has made travel planning accessible to everyone.
(Kristen Cofer)

Best known for her work on “Mythbusters,” “Positive Energy” and “White Rabbit Project,” Kari Byron is also the author of “Crash Test Girl: An Unlikely Experiment in Using the Scientific Method to Answer Life’s Toughest Questions” (HarperCollins). After moving to San Francisco for college, she never left. “My San Francisco love affair has lasted for more than two decades,” says Byron, 43. "(I have) traveled the world, but I still can’t see myself calling anywhere else home.” Fans may stay in touch with Byron on Twitter ( and Facebook (, where she runs her own “social, hence the auto-correct errors and occasional bad grammar.”

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. Somewhere I have never been. I am an adventurer at heart. I rarely go to the same place twice. That being said, I spent a couple weeks in Egypt sailing down the Nile in a felucca and couldn’t help going back for more. All together I was there for almost a month. The travel was definitely challenging, but seeing the Valley of the Kings with my own eyes was worth it.

Q. To someone who was going there for the first time, what would you recommend that they do during their visit?


A. If you can handle it, go to the more popular sights during peak heat. There are far less tourists and you can feel like you have some places to yourself. Not sure if I should recommend this but a cheeky bribe to the right security guard can get you to places you aren’t allowed to see. Also, every felucca captain is named “Captain Bob Marley,” so make sure you have the right one. I think Egyptians know traveling Americans trust a man named Bob Marley. Finally, don’t fall for the ever-popular line, “You dropped something,” unless you are ready for a lengthy conversation or a flirty pickup line. You didn’t drop anything.

Q. What untapped destination should people know about?

A. With the travel culture of the internet, I am not sure anywhere is truly untapped, but Turkey, is an incredibly diverse country that I think doesn’t always get its due. You can hike ruins and caves in Goreme, find natural eternal flames burning from the rocks in Olympos, lounge on a beach or bathe in a waterfall in Butterfly Valley Fethiye and explore the famous Turkish Baths in Istanbul. While I was traveling there, I slept in treehouses, cave rooms and grand hotels. It was one of my favorite places on earth!

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

A. My first trip was to Disneyland. I was very little so my memories are vague. I look happy in the pictures so it must have been a success. My parents loved local adventures and since I grew up in California that meant camping in the redwoods and playing at beaches. You don’t have to go far to find breathtaking flora and fauna in Northern California.

Q. What memories stand out from your work travels?

A. Luckily, I have been able to travel extensively working in television. I did a series for Nat Geo last year called “Positive Energy.” We did episodes all over the world exploring how different countries utilize alternative energy. From tidal turbines in China, windmills in Scotland, to solar power in Brazil, I felt so lucky to get to learn about the world from people trying to make it better. I met this one samba band in the favelas of Brazil that is changing its community by making bio-digesters. Using discarded barrels and other junk they find, they build bio-digesters that ferment food scraps into both methane gas to cook and fertilizer to grow food. I watched as an old woman cried knowing she could have a gas burner instead of gathering wood to burn. It was beautiful.

Q. Where is the most romantic destination?

A. I got married in Costa Rica, so that will always seem like the most romantic destination.

Q. What are your five favorite cities?

A. Paris, Rome, Tokyo, New York, Barcelona.

Q. Where have you traveled to that most reminded you of home?

A. There are parts of Sydney, Australia, that seemed just like home.

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. I haven’t really explored South America enough. I think Peru is next on my travel bucket list.

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

A. I travel with hand sanitizer, my lucky compass necklace, bandana, sketchbook, my Leatherman multi-tool, book and a smartphone stocked with movies in case I have jet lag insomnia.

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

A. I love to try whatever the locals are imbibing; wine in France, caipirinhas in Brazil, sake in Japan. The travel advice starts flowing once the drinks start arriving.

(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at You may also follow “Go Away With...” on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)