This week’s NileGuide 5 interview features Heather Poole. Heather’s been working as a flight attendant for a major U.S. carrier for the last 14 years. She translates her experiences at 35,000 feet into some really interesting insights about travel and people – just check out the new trend she’s started, the Laviators club. Check out her personal blog as well as her Gadling column, Galley Gossip. Keep up with Heather on Twitter at @Heather_Poole.
1. What’s the most underrated destination you’ve been to?
The long weekend getaway. Cities like Carmel, Santa Barbara, Seattle, Palm Springs, and Zihautanejo, are wonderful places to visit that won’t take an entire day traveling just to get there. When time is precious, every second counts. Like most people, my husband has a job that makes it difficult to take time off and travel the way we’d like, so we do what we can with the time that we have. There’s nothing more relaxing than just getting away, regardless of how long you stay. Most of my most memorable experiences took place during a last minute getaway. I’ll never forget leaving on a Friday and driving to Monterrey Mexico with a coworker on a whim. We made it back to work Monday morning and had an amazing story to share.
2. How do you kill time when you’re stuck on a bus or plane?
I’m a flight attendant, but I’m also a mother of an active three year-old, so killing time is not an issue for me… Killing time is in fact a luxury these days. I commute from Los Angeles to New York to get to work. When I tell people that, they think I’m crazy. But I love my commute – when I can get on the plane. It’s “me” time. I embrace it. On my six hour commuter flight last night I read – I actually had time to read! – two gossip magazines, a Vanity Fair, and a book, Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. Sure there are times I get a little antsy being cooped up, but then I have to remind myself to relax, enjoy the moment, breath, just be, because it won’t be long before that’s not an option
3. What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen or experienced traveling?
Once while boarding a flight from Orange County to New York, several passengers stopped me in the aisle to inform me about a passenger they’d encountered outside in the terminal that had made them a little uneasy. These passengers were young and old and all different ethnicity with absolutely nothing in common and were seated in totally different areas of the aircraft. The fact that they were all concerned about the same passenger worried me. I truly believe in trusting your instincts. One passenger had noticed the guy while waiting in line at the ATM, a couple saw him walking through the terminal, and yet another, a cop, kept an eye on him at the boarding gate and had asked if he could sit in the last row in order to keep an eye on the guy during flight. By the time the passenger in question, a guy in his twenties wearing basketball gear, boarded the flight, more than half the passengers were ready to walk off. And this was the last flight out! That means something. Passengers usually do not want to deplane and fly standby the following morning. Long story short, authorities took the passenger off in handcuffs, but after discussing the matter with corporate out in the terminal they brought him back on. After the cabin crew refused to work the flight, they took the passenger off once again. We departed a little late, but our passengers did not mind one bit.
4. What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at a new destination?
If I’m working a trip, I’ll hang my uniform in the closet, unpack my toiletries, guzzle a gallon of water, and go to bed. Our layovers are really short. If I’m traveling for pleasure, I’ll park my bags in the corner of my hotel room and then hit the streets as soon as possible. Usually I’m on the hunt for a good place to eat. I never ask the concierge for suggestions because I don’t like expensive touristy places. Usually I’ll ask people on the streets. Store clerks have never let me down when it comes to finding local places that are inexpensive and close by. For example, one salesman at Urban Outfitters in San Diego told me about the Cheese Shop. What an amazing place.
5. If you could give one tip or piece of advice to travelers, what would it be?
Relax! Ya know the saying, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey, well that’s actually true! Your trip usually starts at an airport, am I wrong? So stop fighting it and embrace it. Learn to love it. Fine, learning to like it is good, too. I once dated a guy who loved going to the airport so much that he’d get there hours early to make it an experience! Now I don’t suggest doing that, heck no, but getting there a little early so you don’t have to freak out when the family of four aren’t prepared to pass through security when it’s their turn will make things go a lot more smoothly – for you and me both. Why stress yourself out like that. Life is stressful enough already.