Today I feature someone who believe it or not flies more than I do! To find out why read this interview with travel blogger Jenn Grahams.
What is your name?
Which country do you come from/call home?
The United States of America – a country that is so geographically big that it takes you two days of non-stop driving and no sleep to get from coast to coast. (I prefer to fly!)
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
I’m a flight attendant!
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
I got into the airline business for the flight benefits. As an employee, I can fly “standby” on any flight on my airline. Standby means you only get a seat if there is an empty seat available so planning travel can be tricky! My husband and I always pack for plans A, B, and C. “If we can’t get to New York, let’s see if we can go to Alaska instead!”
Does it cost money for you to fly standby?
Yes and no. It depends on the crew member’s airline. For me, I can fly free on all domestic flights (within the United States), but there are some taxes and fees when I fly internationally. I flew round-trip First Class to Zurich for less than $500. A full-fare round-trip First Class ticket would normally cost more than $9,000.
Was it hard to get your job as a flight attendant?
Snagging a flight attendant job in the United States is difficult because the competition is huge. I was rejected by two airlines before I got hired by my third choice. When I applied in 2013, a news report posted that the odds were less than 8% and that it was statistically harder to become a flight attendant than to get into an Ivy League College like Harvard.
What type of training does it take to become a flight attendant? Do you need a college degree?
Once again, it depends on the airline. For my airline, a college degree is not required, but usually the company favors candidates who have a college background. Once you’re chosen by the airline you have to attend that company’s flight attendant school. My training was unpaid and it lasted just over two months. Trainees are not guaranteed a position until they’ve graduated. During my training, I saw several people expelled for not passing tests or for not obeying the rules of flight attendant school. If you arrived to class one minute late, you were kicked out. Punctuality is very important in the airline business!
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
My dad is an airline pilot so I flew a LOT as a kid, but the first trip I really remember was when I was ten years old and we visited Chicago! I had never seen such a big city and I was in awe of the skyscrapers, taxis, and bustle of people.
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
Budapest, Hungry. I visited this city for two days in 2008 when I was backpacking in college. It was a ghost town! There must have been some sort of festival happening or maybe the entire country was on Spring Break. I don’t know! It was strange. My friend and I were pretty bored and couldn’t find much to do. If you’ve had a better experience in Budapest, I hope you’ll let me know if the comments below!
Do you have any funny travel stories?
Being lost always leads to something memorable! My friend Joy and I were completely turned around in Rome. It was nearly midnight and we had gotten off at the wrong bus stop. We didn’t have a map or a cell phone. Joy is a bright and outgoing person and so she decided to ask for help. Before I could stop her, she went to ask directions from a group of prostitutes who were working the street. I was mortified, but it turned out to be a huge blessing! The cross-dressing male prostitute spoke a little English and he/she was able to point us in the right direction! It was just really funny though because Joy was clueless and didn’t realize they were “working ladies of the night”, but it certainly reminded me that I shouldn’t judge a person based on how they look. We couldn’t have gotten home without their help!
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
Sadly, I’m going to reference Budapest again for the reasons I mentioned already. Once again, if someone has had a better experience in this city, please let me know in the comments below!
Do you get much free time at locations between flights? And if you do, what will you do there?
Layovers are shorter than I imagined. The “senior” flight attendants tell me layovers were nicer and longer in the past. Sometimes we have barely enough time to sleep. My company requires that flight attendants get at least 8 hours and 20 minutes “behind the hotel door” (domestic flying) with the idea that we should have enough rest in that amount of time.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t allow much time for ironing my uniform, showering, doing hair and makeup, EATING, etc. Fortunately, not all layovers are short. The longest layover I’ve ever had was 32 hours in Seattle. It was fantastic! When I can, I go exploring in the city, try local foods, and hit the gym.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Machu Picchu. There is something magical about that mountaintop. The view is breathtaking and the ancient Inca ruins are shrouded in such mystery that it makes your imagination run wild with possibilities. It’s been years and years since I’ve visited this place. I’ve wanted to go back, but I am a bit worried that the site has been overrun with tourists in recent years. Please let me know if you’ve been there recently and if this is the case.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
The short bucket list includes Fiji, Antarctica, and somewhere in Southeast Asia! I’m open to suggestions!
Can you imagine life without travel?
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
I would be scheming how I could start travelling! Either that, or I would be scrapbooking all my photos and catching up on my travel journal.
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
I blog under my name at www.jenngrahams.com/blog and I write about flight attendant life and my life in general.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
I write for myself. I love educating others about my job as a flight attendant and I love sharing travel stories and tips. I also am hoping to become a published author one day. I’ll be pitching my first novel (Silver Wings) to publishers soon and my blog will be an extension of my writing portfolio.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
Not many flight attendants are willing to blog. There are some strict media policies in place with most airlines. I have to protect myself by writing under a pen name, never mentioning my airline by name, and never posting a picture of myself in uniform. I don’t want to lose my job. At the same time, I value Freedom of Speech and I don’t like being censored from writing about my passions!
Do you have any products or services to offer?
Nope! This is an ad-free blog.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
I had several hits on my blog post titled “Flight Attendant or Stewardess?”. There is great confusion over those job titles and I help explain the difference!
What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?
I love writing about flight attendant life and sharing travel secrets I’ve learned from working in the airline business!
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
If I said boat, you would know I was lying! The plane, of course!
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
Always wear shoes when walking into an airplane’s lavatory! Also, it doesn’t take a ton of cash to have a great adventure. The web is a vast resource of travel bloggers who will show you how to travel affordably!
What has travel taught you?
The world is a beautiful place and we are so lucky to call it our home.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Mine!
Favourite country? Germany!
Favourite city? New York.
Favourite beach? Any beach in the Caribbean!
Favourite food? Apple pie.
Favourite language? British English! (It sounds so lovely, but I can’t stand some of the spelling! Favourite, not favorite?! Traveller and not traveler?! My spellcheck is going crazy!)
LEAST favourite language: American English with a southern drawl. (“Ya better git oer’ her’ riiight now or I’ma gonna tan yer hide!” – An actual quote by one of my southern relatives.)
Please provide the following:-
Website url? www.jenngrahams.com
Twitter handle? @jenngrahams
Facebook page? www.facebook.com/jenngrahams