As the second part of our blog series, TakemeThereToday got an opportunity to interview Kelly (@theawkwardtourist) who is a flight attendant for a major U.S. airline and been flying for close to 4 years. She has been to 33 countries and hopes to see that number grow. She lives in California with her fiance and cat, Boris, and is a champagne & culinary enthusiast.
Making the decision to fly- what inspired you to become a flight attendant?
I wanted a job that would allow me to travel, as simple as that. I always thought that I had to speak another language, but when I saw a position open up I applied and although I didn’t think much of it at the time, it changed my life. The travel benefits are really more than I ever could have dreamed of, and it’s allowed me to see the world.
How do you maintain relationships considering that you travel frequently?
It’s tough, luckily my fiance and I were dating before I got the job and he’s very supportive. Getting the job has actually allowed me to maintain friendships with people who live in different states and countries, so that’s one unforeseen benefit. Making new friends is a challenge since I don’t have anything even close to a normal schedule, so it takes a lot of extra effort and a lot of flexibility on my part.
Is it hectic? Do you get enough time to explore the destinations you visit?
It’s really hectic. No two days are ever the same. When they train you, they say that you have to be a palm tree because of the flexibility. It will be an early morning followed by a late night and working 12-hour days or anything in between. Our layovers vary in length, on the longer ones they put us up in the city, but on shorter ones we’re at a hotel near the airport, so it really depends. I’ll go out and explore if the layover is long enough.
As a frequent flyer, how do you overcome jet lag?
When I’m working, I try to stay on West Coast time, if timing allows. Staying hydrated is really key during travel at any time. Drinking, even more, water than you think is necessary really helps with jetlag and fatigue. Also, it’s surprising but a lot of people forget to eat and take their meds when they travel. It’s really important to give your body what it needs, even though it may be confused about what time it is.
Sometimes all I can do is sit and wonder at the things I’m lucky enough to see in this world. . I love taking photos and making sure they’re perfect for Instagram, but I try to make sure to be present in the moment . Because who knows when I’ll be back in Venice? . What your favorite travel moment? . Photo by @kevinlacyphoto
A funny/embarrassing moment you witnessed on the job?
When I first started flying, I forgot to secure the galley carts and they came rolling out during takeoff. I had to reach across the aisle and hold them while the whole first class stared at me.
What is the hardest part of your work?
The schedule can be really tough. The days are often long, lots of early mornings or late nights, and flying itself is hard on the body. I have to work extra hard to take care of myself when I’m flying a lot. It’s also hard to be away from home, from my fiance and taking care of my life at home. Sometimes I’m gone for 3 or 4 days at a time, so things back up on me.
What do you love most about your job? /Perks that are included in the job?
The best parts of my job are the flexibility and the travel benefits. I only work about half the days of the month, and I can decide which days those are. I can often get certain days off if I need to attend a family function, have an appointment, etc. The travel benefits allow my fiance and me to travel around the world for significantly cheaper than normal. We can basically fly anywhere for free or very, very cheap and have a chance to get upgraded to a premium class when we go.
What is your favorite destination?
That’s a tough one! They’re all so different. I usually prefer nature to cities, so the Alps, Thailand, and basically any tropical beach are at the top of my list.
What’s next on the road ahead?
I’m heading to a Pangea Dreams blogger and social media retreat in Mexico in November, to learn more about how to grow my online brand and improve my presence. I’m really excited because there are some Instagrammers whom I really admire who are going to be leading some workshops. I am also planning my wedding, although we’ve elected to have a long engagement so that we can save up for the wedding and don’t have to stop traveling!
Tips for someone who wants to be a flight attendant
Know that it’s not only a job but a lifestyle. It’s tough and it’s really important to be able to roll with the punches. If you’re the type of person who needs to know exactly what’s coming next and has to have everything scheduled out, flying is not for you.
Perfect your carry-on! Water, entertainment, sleep aids, pillows, etc. It makes a long flight so much better if you have what you need to make yourself more comfortable. People often ask for things that we can’t give them because our resources are limited. Also, having international data, a SIM card, or some kind of Wi-Fi plan on your phone makes life on the road so much easier. You’re much less likely to waste time getting lost (unless that’s what you aim to do, which I do sometimes!), showing up to a place that’s closed, or struggling to communicate what you need to someone who speaks a different language than you. Just remember to stay in the moment and get off of Facebook once and a while!
The TakeMeThereToday team would like to thank Kelly(@theawkwardtourist) for contributing to our blog series. It’s great to see such independence and inspiration in those who pursue their passion for travel along with their careers. We wish you the best and hope your list of 33 countries expands, and you soar to great heights (no pun intended).