The Sky is Friendlier with the Sky Steward!
By: Triptrotting Team
While the idea of traveling the world is exciting, the process of getting there is sometimes more painful than necessary. Remember all those times you waited for hours at the airport, missed your flight and wished you could miraculously receive an upgrade? How about seeing something that’s just gross to see on the airplane? Save it for the Sky Steward to put some “Jetiquette” back into flying the friendly skies. Get to know him and as one of our lovely judges for the Ultimate Triptrotter contest, he may just be on your side!
Tell us more about yourself!
I started booking travel for my parent’s friends and business associates when I was 10 years old and that was the beginning of my travel addiction. Eastern Airlines got word of it and swept me up into a whirlwind of newspaper interviews and invitations to all of their company events. Remember I was only 10, so I was saying…I just want to look at planes, not talk to this reporter! I started collecting airline memorabilia and have quite a collection of airline timetables that fills crate after crate. I eventually became a flight attendant for American Airlines and flew for 23 years.
I created the Sky Steward website to discuss all things travel but the conversation eventually turned to travel manners as I am on the faculty of the Protocol School of Washington. I trademarked the term Jetiquette® which also served as the title for my book for those in customer service.
How many countries have you been to?
What made you start traveling and why do you continue to do it?
I think when traveling became part of my life, it became a necessity to me. Every month, I need to go somewhere or I feel lost. The experiences I have when traveling get me thinking and I come up with the most ideas when I am on airplanes!
Any epiphanies from your travel experiences?
When I realized that all I had to do was say I wanted to go somewhere and everything would work out to make it happen, that was a big deal. Many times people put off trips for years because they think they can take the time or can’t afford it. There always seems to be a way to make things fall into place to allow for a trip.
What’s a crazy experience you can share with the Triptrotting community?
My best friend, Kristi, and I decided to take an impromptu trip to St. Thomas in 1990. We had heard of a hotel that offered airline employees a super discount, but when we took a taxi to the hotel, we found nothing but a hollow shell of a hurricane ravaged resort. It was at this point that we confessed each other that we had each just brought $75 with us for food and accommodations and just blew a good deal on the taxi, so we hitched a ride back down the mountain. We survived on side salads and crackers at restaurants but still treated ourselves to a couple of beers.
We stayed in a drug-den hotel, but were looked out for by the locals! Even though we could only take a shower from 4-5AM in the hotel and the mirror was aluminum…we had a marvelous time!
Any advice for those who want to do what you do?
Go for it!
Any advice for Triptrotters to “travel like a local?”
Talk to people! Don’t be afraid to speak to someone sitting near you in a café. I think that Triptrotting has opened up the world to so many people that may have missed out on the most important part of the travel experience which is actually “experiencing” the destination. When you think of all the friendships that people are developing online these days…making it part of the travel experience makes perfect sense.
What was the most surprising thing you learned about another local culture?
As an American, I have learned that many other cultures are so much more generous than we are when it comes to being a host. This has made me want to be a better host myself. I have admired just how gracious people can really be, going all out to make sure that I have the best time possible in their country. We could do a much better job of this in the United States.
How did the experiences you have had and connections you made influence your personal and professional life?
With every decision I make and idea I come up with I can trace it back to the many people I’ve met around the world and the experiences I’ve had with them. These experiences make us who we are! Each time I visit another country I remind myself that if I had made a simple decision to stay home I would be missing out on thousands of micro-experiences that will become part of how I live my life from that day forward. Profound huh?
What are you looking for in the Ultimate Triptrotter?
I am looking for someone that is the “Ultimate Ambassador”; adventurous, inspiring, yet gracious and caring. When I think of a “Triptrotter” I want to picture this person in my head. Remember, the winner of this contest will be setting the bar at this point…so I am open to surprises!