Distinguished Travel Hacker

How to Find the Best Tour Guide in Any City

ABC anchor Juju Chang shares the secrets she’s learned through years of traveling on reporting trips.
Photographer: Heidi Gutman/American Broadcasting Companies,

At Bloomberg Pursuits, we love to travel. And we always want to make sure we’re doing it right. So we’re talking to globetrotters in all of our luxury fields—food, wine, fashion, cars, real estate—to learn about their high-end hacks, tips, and off-the-wall experiences. These are the Distinguished Travel Hackers.

Juju Chang is an Emmy Award-winning ABC News correspondent and co-anchor of its prestige magazine program, Nightline. She has also anchored major breaking stories, including the Orlando nightclub massacre and Boston Marathon bombing, for the network; in the past month alone, she has traveled to Honduras, the Korean Peninsula, and Alabama to cover stories.

Chang’s preferred airline is Delta Airlines Inc., where she has Diamond Medallion status. “In the past, I didn't really pay that much attention, because I was too busy trying to get to the location as quickly as possible. I'm a news person, but now that I made Diamond, I realize the benefits that come along with it,” such as more flexible ticket cancelations and priority re-accommodation when flights are canceled.

Juju lives in New York with her husband and three sons.

With this hack, doing your makeup on the go is literally child’s play.

I am obsessed with my Swoop bag, which was invented by a mom for her son’s Lego toys. Originally, I snagged it on a play date. Some other mom had it and I knew immediately—ding!—that I must have it, because I have a Lego-obsessed son. But I use one for my make up when I travel: It allows you to play with toys on a flat surface, or in my case, do my makeup flat on my lap. Then, when I’m done, I just swoop it all up. It’s much easier to access the mascara or that darn eyebrow brush you need when it’s on a flat surface in front of you. Literally I have been in snowplows, covering snowstorms, or in the back of a squad car. It's just convenient and it's quick, it's practical, and it works like a charm for me. I've given them away as holiday gifts. It’s my favorite indispensable thing ever.

Wardrobe malfunctions are no longer a danger if you use this.

I always pack toupée tape. OK, these days it’s called Fashion Tape. It’s a clear, double-sided tape that professional stylists have used for years; it’s from the old vaudeville days, when they would take your toupee and use this to put it on your scalp. It was the stylist at Good Morning America who taught me about it to tape down an overly revealing blouse or an errant hem–when my hem fell out of my skirt, and I didn’t have a needle and thread, nor the dexterity to deal with it, so I pulled out the toupee tape. It’s always in my travel make-up kit, and it’s proven invaluable as I’ve used it for all sorts of wardrobe malfunctions.

You can find the best tour guide in a new city by making one unusual phone call. 

[Working for ABC News] we have highly skilled people, what we call fixers or stringers, in almost any location. These are people who are a perfect conduit between their home countries and a Western perspective, so they know what we need in terms of the kind of restaurant, for example. Often, those stringers work for local newspapers [the rest of the time]; when we were just in Honduras, one of our best fixers also worked for the local paper. They speak English and they're increasingly, like, "Oh yeah, they came through with the reality show crew, like, three weeks ago, and now you need to take this next crew around." So if you want to find the best guide, call the local newspaper, or a news organization in that area, and ask who their fixer might be.

Hudson News has a secret weapon: jewelry.

The Hudson News kiosk at Newark Airport.
Photographer: Waring Abbott/Michael Ochs Archives

I am incredibly scatterbrained, and so I will often forget my jewelry, for example. I'm a girl who works on television, and I occasionally need [emergency] earrings. I have found myself on more than one occasion having to buy earrings at an airport. There's one brand of earrings that is a shockingly inexpensive price point that all of my friends are, like, "Where did you get those?" and I'll be, like, "At the airport and they were $10." I'm not kidding you. The brand is called Be Iconic, and they’re available at Hudson News. That place is my secret weapon when I’m traveling.

How to get a full workout in 20 minutes—anywhere.

I was a competitive swimmer [as a teen]. When I was in Iraq during the first Iraq War, I started swimming again for the first time at the Marines’ compounds. The Marines had a nice facility with an outdoor pool, so I got to hang out and swim with the Marines. That was super-fun. Then I also did triathlons. After the Haiti earthquake, I wanted to raise money, and so I raised money for Unicef by getting everybody to sign up to do triathlon. I became more of a cyclist after that. Now I’ll do workouts in my hotel room. I’ll do a seven-minute workout app and then a 10-minute yoga routine with Tara Stiles. She is just available for free on YouTube. She's just super-chill: There's no attitude, there's no pretense.

Juju, with her family, jumps off a bridge into the Salmon River in Idaho.
Photographer: Paul Richer

Her life-changing trip wasn’t far-flung—it was to an untouched corner of the United States.

For a milestone birthday (none of your business which one) I got all my siblings, all their spouses, their children, to come with me on this trip: 22 members of my immediate family. And at the end, each and every one of them was like, "That was the best vacation I've ever had in my life." It was on an armada of kayaks and paddle-boats and stand-up paddleboards down 80 miles of the Salmon River in Idaho, with the guide Jared Hopkinson, who’s a gem of a human being. You are trekking beyond the point where Lewis and Clark reportedly turned back. It's the furthest away from any metropolitan areas in the continental U.S. We put our phones in a water bag at the beginning; for five nights, we slept under the stars. We played charades, whatever parlor games you could think of. No showers, no soap, no toilets, but they would lay dry ice between the beer [cans in the coolers], so by the end, you're still getting cold beer. You have to time your visit at the right time, though. At the beginning of the summer, the runoff water is cold from the mountains and much swifter; but by the end of the season—the end of summer—the water level goes down, and it’s warmer.

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