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Business Traveler Interview: Mary Jo Manzanares

This is part of a new series here at WhyGo Business Travel featuring brief interviews with people who travel for work, asking them about what they do and some of their favorite travel tips. This way, if you’re looking for a career that will require travel, you’ll get to read about people doing some of the jobs you might consider – and you’ll also learn a few great travel tips from the travel pros!

This week, we’re talking with Mary Jo Manzanares. She’s based in Seattle, and blogs at Traveling with MJ.

What do you do?
I’m a Flight Attendant and Travel Blogger.

What kind of travel do you get to do for work? Do you get to choose where you go?
I have the ability to at least partially decide where I’m going (we “bid” for our trips each month so I can mix it up). During this time of year, I love the warm weather destinations, and always tweet when I’m in Hawaii enjoying the sun. Some of my other favorite spots for layovers are NYC, Washington DC, Boston, and Houston.

When it comes to the travel blogging side of my work, I usually make at least one trip per month. It may be close to home or across the country, and if I’m traveling for a conference or event, I try to add on a few extra days to do some additional research and exploring in the area.

How often do you get to travel for work?
All the time! I usually travel 10-12 days a month as a flight attendant, 2-4 additional for my travel blogging, plus any additional personal travel.

Did you choose your job at least in part because you love to travel? Would you make the same job choice again, knowing what you know now?
Most people who are flight attendants say they want to do it for a few years and see the world. But then you never leave. It’s a life style choice, and definitely not for everyone, but the opportunity to have a flexible schedule, not be stuck in an office, and to work largely self-directed is very appealing to me. Oh yeah – and I get to layover in Hawaii!

What are some of your favorite travel tips that you’ve picked up?
Pack light, but be practical. It’s okay to check a bag if you don’t want to have to tote it around (I always check my bag if I’m traveling for longer than a week). Try not to get stressed out – it doesn’t change anything and only makes you feel worse. Be proactive, always looking for good options, from the planning stages all the way through to the end of the trip. Ask for what you want politely, but firmly. Someone else’s idea of a perfect vacation doesn’t have to be yours – don’t be afraid to try new things, but don’t be afraid to do what you like.

What advice do you have for someone who’s interested in doing what you do?
It’s not a good time for becoming a flight attendant. Not a lot of airlines are hiring, unfortunately, and there’s crazy stuff going on in the business. The Association of Flight Attendants keeps a list of airlines that are hiring so check it frequently. You can also check the website of the various airlines. Starting pay is crummy, most have decent benefit packages, and you’ll not have much flexibility in your schedule during the early years. But if it’s really what you want to do, keep at it, as it’s one of the best jobs for people who want to travel.

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