5 Minutes With Shari Leid (Travel Interview)

For McCool Travel’s 197th travel interview, I am pleased to present Shari Leid, from An Imperfectly Perfect Life. I learned about Shari from her current project which is having meals with a different woman in each of the 50 states in 2023. Like a recent interview subject, Jen Ruiz, Shari is a former attorney who left the legal field in order to pursue passion projects.

Shari Leid’s bio:

Former litigator, SHARI LEID currently operates An Imperfectly Perfect Life, LLC, a professional mindset
coaching business primarily serving clients who feel stuck and helping them to create the life of their dreams. She is a national speaker and author of The Friendship Series—including The 50/50 Friendship Flow: Life Lessons From and For My Girlfriends, Make Your Mess Your Message: More Life Lessons From and For My Girlfriends, and Ask Yourself This: Ultimate Life Lessons From and For My Girlfriends.

Shari Leid planning with US map

Travel Interview With Shari Leid


Woodinville, Washington


I always pack my Tempur-Pedic All-Purpose Memory Foam Travel Pillow, Peanut-Shaped. It packs easily and takes the place of hotel pillows that often don’t offer the support I want, and I feel more comfortable sleeping on my own pillow than a pillow that countless travelers before me have slept on.


Because the Starbucks Coffee Company began in Seattle, whenever I travel and see a Starbucks shop, I’m reminded of home. My go-to drink is either an Americano (black) or a Mint Majesty Tea. When I’m on the road and feeling a bit homesick, it always feels like a cup of home comfort to walk into a Starbucks store and grab a warm Starbucks drink.

The second place that currently feels like home is Los Angeles, California. My son has attended college in LA for nearly 4 years; therefore, whenever I am flying to LA – whether to visit him or for business, I feel like I’m flying to a place that is home. As the saying goes, “Home is where the heart is.”

The third place that feels like home-away-from-home is Oahu, Hawaii. From the moment I step off the plane, I feel like a local. I am Asian American and being surrounded by a population of people who not simply look like me but also speak the same language as me, feels like home – an experience that I cannot find any
place else in the world.


On a family trip to South Africa, my children were teenagers at the time, we hired a local guide who was a White South African of European descent. Our guide was raised during apartheid and shared that his father’s attendance at the 1995 Rugby World Cup affected his life, not because of the game but the humanity and honor that Nelson Mandela displayed by showing a unified South Africa through supporting the Springbok team. Our guide shared that his father came home with tears in his eyes sharing that he chanted “Mandela” along with the stadium filled with White South African fans. Our guide saw a shift in his father on how he viewed race which trickled down to his family and he saw a shift in the country. His personal story was so incredibly moving, it is a moment that I will never forget.


I’ve been a fan of Eagle Creek luggage for over a decade. I’ve found their bags to be well-made, wheel nicely, sturdy, functional, and are attractive. I always purchase non-black bags to allow for easy detection at the baggage terminal.

Bandolier phone case. This has been a recent brand find for me and I absolutely love that their cases come with straps and easy clip-on attachments. I never fear losing my phone, iPods, or essential cards when traveling – the straps allow for easy crossbody wear which frees my hands to juggle luggage and all the other tasks that come with airport travel. The designs are so stylish that I’ve become accustomed to receiving compliments on my travels and inquiries into the brand.

MASKC disposable face masks. While I’m comfortable not masking in general, I still mask on planes and in crowded buses or subways. Most recently, I caught a cold while traveling and wore a MASKC on the airplane to do my best to not spread germs to the people seated next to me. MASKC brand masks come in different patterns and colors and are comfortable and easy to wear.

Shari Leid reading a travel guidebook while sitting at cafe
Shari Leid sitting at cafe


  1. Delta SkyMiles Reserva Credit Card. I use this card for all Delta airline purchases, which not only provides an easy way to earn additional travel points for future travel but also allows me into all Delta lounges without extra charge when flying the airline. The Delta lounges not only provides respite, but they also have a nice selection of food and drink, which saves me from the expenses of airport meals.
  2. I love my travel points and I try to stick with two larger hotel chains, when possible, to maximize my travel point potential. I book at either a Hilton or a Marriott and I typically plan my trips months in advance. I reserve my stays with a credit card (I use American Express Hilton and American Express Marriott Bonvoy cards to book) and after each stay, if I’ve earned enough points for a complimentary next stay, I simply cancel the upcoming credit card held reservation and re-book with the points I earned.
  3. Finally, I check for price changes. While I like to book and hold rooms early with a credit card, I have learned that prices change quite often for rooms. About 1- 2 weeks prior, when I’m still within my free-cancellation window, I check the prices on available rooms. If the prices have lowered, I’ll rebook at the lower price and cancel the held higher price reservations. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars each year by managing reservations this way.


  1. When I travel solo, I’ll often book tours in the area I’m staying. I love history tours and I use Trip Advisor to scout out the highest rated and must-see experiences in the area.
  2. I’m an author who has three published books. I leave a book with gratuity with a note to the housecleaning staff in each hotel room that I stay. My grandmother cleaned motel rooms and my notes are very personal heartfelt words of gratitude.
  3. The third thing I do that is fun for me is purposely look for people to meet as I travel through the day. In fact, this year I’ve made this fun aspect of travel into a project that I’ve titled, “The 50 States Project.” I’m traveling to all 50 states and sharing a meal with a stranger in each state. This project has not only made travel fun, but it has made travel of the US very meaningful to me. I’m currently halfway through the project and I’ve noticed my life has already changed for the better because of the conversations I’ve had along the way.


Live fully where[ever] you are.


MasterClass. I have taken several MasterClass courses on subjects from interior design to communication to writing to hair styling tips!


Your Journey Heart Bracelet by DEMDACO. I purchased the bracelet at the airport in Rapid City, South Dakota. The bracelet holds 7 strands with various beads and came with the following sentiment printed on the box:

“A lot happens in seven days. Things change. Plans fall short. Joy and sorrows weave through each day. As you travel on your journey, take time to pause and reflect. This bracelet has a strand to represent each day of the week. A special bead for every day helps you focus on love, self, family, friends, health, safety, our world. Let this be a guide to remind you wherever your journey leads, you are never alone.”


Trail Mix. I love trail mix. The ones with the chocolate are the best!


BAGTAG. The electronic bag tags saves so much time at the airport. I am hoping more airlines will adopt this technology soon. I love the ease of digitally updating my bag tag and walking into the airport straight to the drop off counter. I currently use this system when flying Alaska Airlines and I imagine more airlines will soon become available!

Shari Leid walking in airport
Shari Leid walking in airport


Al Roker – I recently had the fortune of being a guest on the TODAY show and the most exciting thing was having the legendary Al Roker ask me a question. I can’t even call it a bucket list item because the idea of being asked a question by Al Roker was something beyond my imagination.


I would like to meet a birth family member – someone who is a sibling or parent. I was orphaned in Seoul, South Korea – and my dream is to meet a close biological relative who could tell me about my birth family and parents. I imagine this would involve a trip to Korea, a country that I have yet to explore and a trip which I’d take in a heartbeat if I ever received a viable lead.

Thank you so much Shari for sharing your travel advice and inspiration.

Follow Shari Leid at Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and LinkedIn.

McCool Travel presents tips from travel experts in our 5 Minutes travel interview series—featuring travel industry giants, super frequent travelers, and adventurous persons.

Previous 5 Minutes travel interview: Valerie Young

Sharing is caring!