Jenn Grahams gives us a glimpse into the life of a flight attendant in this edition of Interview with a Traveler. Swapping out her job as a public school teacher for a career in the skies, Grahams currently works as a Washington D.C.-based flight attendant for a major airline carrier.
What changes did you make in order to save money for your travels?
I made a life-changing career swap in order to save money for travel! Before 2013 I was a public high school teacher. While this profession was very rewarding, it left me feeling grounded. My husband and I wanted to travel more, but teaching was emotionally draining and plane tickets were costly. Becoming a flight attendant fixed both of those problems!
What’s the best bit of travel advice you have ever received?
“Travel and travel often!” I’m trying to follow that advice!
What inspired you to start traveling?
I blame my parents for putting the “travel bug” in me. When I turned ten, my dad got a job as a commercial airline pilot and travel became a HUGE part of our lives. Mom was in charge of planning trips and she coordinated our vacations with our education. When my sister and I started studying the Revolutionary War, we went to Boston, Massachusetts and Williamsburg, Virginia. When my history class started covering medieval Europe, we went to Germany and visited castles. Travel made everything I was learning come to life.
What is your proudest accomplishment you achieved while traveling?
My proudest moment was when my husband and I used my flight passes for the first time. On the flight to San Juan I was thinking, “We are getting to do this because of my job.”
What has been the most under rated country you have been to and why?
Peru. It’s still a developing country with a lot of poverty. People overlook Peru because it isn’t a luxurious destination filled with resorts. In a way, I think the lack of “big tourism” makes it more authentic. You can go to Peru and quickly engross yourself in the culture, history, and astounding ecotourism.
What is your travel mantra?
Go with the flow! I’m a planner. I like to know what to expect, but travel plans are never set in stone. I try to remind myself to relax and enjoy the unexpected journey!
In what ways, if any, has travel changed you?
Travel expanded my neighborhood. By this I mean, I see myself as a citizen of the world and not just a citizen of the United States. I feel so much more connected to people from different countries and different cultures because I have visited so many places. As a Christian, I believe I am called to “love thy neighbor” and for me, that neighbor isn’t defined by geography. Travel breaks down those boundaries. My neighbor is any human being.
Fast fun five…
If you could only describe yourself as one would it be: beach bum, city slicker or country bumpkin?
Country bumpkin. I grew up in rural Nebraska.
If you could travel back in time, which era and place would you go to and why?
November 9, 1989. In the blink of an eye, the barrier between East and West Germany dissolved! I would have loved to be at the Berlin Wall, watching the confused faces of the border crossing guards and the overjoyed reactions of East and West Germans being reunited with loved ones!
If you could travel with one celebrity, who would it be and why?
Ryan Reynolds! I actually want to redeem myself by meeting him again. I was working a flight on which he and Blake Lively were traveling together. Even though I’ve seen a ton of movies starring Ryan (The Proposal, Green Lantern, The Amityville Horror), I was totally clueless! I even asked him and Blake, “Is your last name pronounced Reyn-olds? Are you married? For how long?” – HA! I could’ve pulled out my People magazine and gotten all the wedding details! Anyway, Ryan and Blake are America’s sweetheart couple for a reason. They seem like very nice people and I would love to travel with either of them again as a passenger and not crew!
If someone was to make a movie about your travel life, what would it be called and who would play you?
Silver Wings – named after my upcoming book. I would be played by a young Anne Hathaway. Think of Hathaway in her debuting role as Mia in “The Princess Diaries” – add a flight attendant uniform and we’re set!
What was the first overseas trip you took?
Germany! I was twelve years old. Who would’ve guessed that I would eventually live there for a year in college!