Travel

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Jane Swift on seafood, sangria, Sox, water views

There’s no place like home, according to former governor Jane Swift, who moved from western Massachusetts to a lakeside home in Shelburne, Vt., nearly two years ago. Swift, who just turned 50, is an education technology executive — she is CEO of Middlebury Interactive Languages, which delivers digital language courses and summer academics to more than 180,000 K-12 students — and serves on several boards. She’s also in demand as a public speaker. We caught up with Swift, who, with her husband, Chuck Hunt (at right, with Swift in their backyard on Lake Champlain),
is raising three teenage daughters, to talk about all things travel.

Favorite vacation spot (and why)?
A staycation in Shelburne in the summer, which I think is Vermont’s most underrated season. Living on Lake Champlain with beautiful views of the Adirondacks and numerous great restaurants with locally grown food. Shelburne Farms is one of the most beautiful places you will ever visit. In the winter: Sanibel Island for dolphin watching, biking, and the fabulous warm weather. It’s also nice to be close to JetBlue Park and Red Sox spring training.

Favorite food or drink while vacationing? Celiac disease used to limit my dining choices, but now many places have robust gluten-free options. Fresh seafood is a particular favorite, as my family doesn’t like me to cook that at home. White wine sangria is a nice treat in warm weather.

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Where would you like to travel to (and why) but haven’t? I would like to bring the family to Italy where my grandmother is from and where I studied abroad in college. Middlebury Interactive also operates three high school summer language academies abroad — Beijing, Spain, and Quebec City — so I now have a professional rationale for some exciting international travel. Quebec City in particular is close to New England and has a real European feel.

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One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? My phone and computer are critical to stay connected on business trips. When traveling for leisure, a good book to read.

Aisle or window (and why)?
Window, preferably an exit row. I need the space to work and stretch my legs.

Favorite childhood travel memory? When I was 13, I traveled by myself to Wyoming to ride horses for two weeks as part of a Girl Scout program. This was the first time I ever flew and the first time I traveled solo. Also, my family camped in Disney World’s Fort Wilderness campground when I was about 12, which was an awesome experience.

Guilty pleasure when traveling?
People magazine

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Best travel tip? I’ve long had the practice of never checking bags on work trips — or else your business suit ends up in Chicago when you’re in Dallas. Also, soft bags are much more versatile than the ubiquitous rollerboards.

Since this was the endless winter of travel delays, I have two rebooking tips. First, if you pay the daily fee for airline club access (typically $50) you temporarily jump to the front of the rebooking line. Second, Twitter is a very good tool for dealing with canceled flights. Airlines want to avoid any squeaky wheels on social media so they tend to be very responsive to (polite) rebooking requests through Twitter. Delta is one airline that takes Twitter seriously.

Juliet Pennington