Never Stay Above the Fourth Floor in a Hotel and Other Advice from an Experienced Nomad

Meet Karin ShamPoo, who has visited over 100 countries as a former deputy executive director for UNICEF. She was born in Norway and now lives in New York and Trinidad and Tobago.

Why do you love to travel? 

The majority of my travels have been work-related. I feel however very fortunate to have traveled to so many parts of the world, many of them hot-spots and met both presidents and prime ministers and other government officials, and even more important, ordinary people in particular women and children.


Working with children in Afghanistan with UNICEF.

How many countries have you visited?


How many states in the U.S. have you visited?


What has been your favorite trip and why?  

Meeting family in China

My favorite trip was one of my trips to China together with my husband, when with the help of UNICEF office in Beijing and the fantastic assistance of All China Women’s Association, to visit the town where my father-in-law was from and to where he had gone back and later died, RenHe Town, Baiyon District, Guangzhou. With the limited information we had, they had located relatives with whom we met, my father-in-law’s old house and his grave. A very moving experience that I and my husband will never forget.

What destination is/are on your bucket list?

Would like to do a few things that we have already done, like taking the  Norwegian Coastal Voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes

What is your best packing tip?

Make a list in advance of what you are going to do every day while traveling, and add for each day what items of clothing you need. Make sure to pack necessities and any medication in your hand luggage.

What tips do you have to make it through a long plane, bus, or train ride?

Just relax

How do you avoid jet lag? 

Adjust your watch to arrival destination time as soon as your flight takes off and concentrate on that time thereafter.

What are your best safety tips when traveling? 

Check whether there are any special safety concerns in the countries/areas to where you are going. If staying at high-rise hotels, try to get a room not higher than 4th floor in case you need to evacuate. Familiarize yourself with emergency exits. Do not wear or carry with you, any expensive jewelry. Be careful in big crowds.

What has been your biggest travel nightmare or mistake?

Apart from the usual ones like delayed flights, losing connections, delayed luggage (have never lost any), I have not had any big nightmares or mistakes. The closest I have had was on one trip to a country in West-Africa, my luggage was left in Paris and this country had only flights from Paris three times a week. I was going to open a big conference with the president and needed something nicer to wear than what I had traveled in. The only nice outfits I could find were two traditional African outfits. The good thing that came out of this, was that the president felt very honored when he saw me in the outfit and I got a lot of extra mileage out of that.

 Do you prefer hotels, hostels, or Airbnb/Home Away or similar sites and why?

I have only stayed at hotels, guest-houses or privately when traveling. The relatively new concept of Airbnb sounds very interesting, and we may try that.

 If money were no object and you could retire or live anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why? 

I do not think money should be the most important criteria where you want to live. Where you feel comfortable living, is much more important, at least to me. I do not want to live anywhere else than where we live, part of the year in New York, and part of the year in Trinidad.

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