WSGT’s next Travel Influencer is Pam of Always 5 Star, a website aimed at enhancing your travel experience with expert advice and tips! From “champagne moments” to “romance” Always 5 Star has you covered!
1.)Where was the first place that you traveled that made you think WOW—travel is amazing (think history book come to life or …..)
My first WOW moment happened on my honeymoon with my husband. It was also our first time traveling internationally. We choose to go to Cancun, Mexico. I planned months in advance researching to create the most romantic week to celebrate our marriage. The research and planning I did created a magical romantic vacation. I had saved up for years to make this vacation special, however we were on a tight budget at that time. With the limited resources that I had, I looked for specials and investigated the hotels with the best ratings. This was 33 years ago, so information was limited and took more time and effort to acquire. With travel books in hand, I read everything I had to figure out how to maximize this vacation. I even contacted the hotels (which wasn’t done much back then) and spoke to several to select the best place. At that time, the highest rated hotel was the “Fiesta Americana”. When we checked in the hotel, they surprised us with the Presidential Suite and sent champagne to our room. Everything that I had planned, from snorkeling excursions, ruins, beaches, etc., was exquisite. It exceeded our expectations and ignited a thirst for more travel. With every experience after that it just further enhanced my passion for travel and especially the luxury travel. I then made it a goal to strive for luxury travel experiences. I have managed to create many amazing memories and travel experiences since then. This first experience was certainly a “WOW” moment!
2.)If you had unlimited resources, where would you go and what would you do?
With unlimited resources and time, I have no doubt that you find me on a non-stop luxury, international travel circuit. I would utilize all types of transportation including planes, ships, trains, hot air balloons (lol), cars and by my own two feet (hiking). I would stay in the top resorts and hotels around the world. I would eat at exotic and highly rated restaurants. I would celebrate key moments with a wonderful glass of champagne! I would also throw myself into cultural experiences and try some places that are off the grid. Having the time to connect with local cultures, I would hope to learn the secrets and special places at each destination. Luxury travel would be the goal as it allows you the special conveniences and comforts that makes such journeys so memorable. However, some of the most amazing, growth moments would be embracing the road less traveled.
3.) What were you afraid to do and how did you find the courage to overcome it?
Initially I was afraid to fly, had a huge fear of getting lost, and of not being able to speak the language when overseas. My parents did not travel because of these issues and they were transferred into my head. What I tell everyone with similar travel fears that they should face their fears head on. The way I did this was to keep doing what I was afraid of until that new behavior became normal for me. I had a lot of anxiety on my first 25 flights and I wondered if it was worth flying. Eventually, as I kept pushing myself to fly, it became as easy as being in a car. However, there are still times I get anxious flying… like when there is turbulence.
4.)What apps do you use regularly that make your life easier?
As far as directions go, map and navigation applications on my phone have really reduced that fear for me. Utilizing technology has opened my world and quenched my fears. Applications, like language translators and maps with navigation, are wonderful tools. I have many wonderful apps that enhance my travel. Here some of the ones I use:
Google Maps, Trip It, Trip Advisor, Seat Guru, American Airlines, Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, Ritz Carlton, Currency Exchange, Google Translate, Lounge Buddy, Priority Pass, Amex, Open Table, Uber, Southwest, Seat Alerts (flights), Award Wallet, and of course my phone’s app.
5.) What place do you wish more people have seen?
Thailand and Africa are the two destinations that I think everyone should experience. The people, the natural beauty, and the native animals are amazing and my life was changed for good!
6.) Best advice you have been given and by whom?
Create and maximize reward program(s) points and benefits. It is the first step to taking your travel to the next level. Sign up for credit cards that allow you to earn points for travel. By using these cards for daily expenses, you can accumulate points quickly. Make sure to pay the card off every month to avoid interest charges! I also encourage and suggest that you choose a primary hotel and airline loyalty program and stick with them. Investing the extra time and effort to track your points helps too. Sign up for the Global Entry TSA precheck program to make getting through airport security much easier. Various credit card rewards programs will even reimburse you these costs. Get a credit card that allows for priority pass lounge access at the airports. These tips help travelers get a jump start to enhancing their travel experiences and to help take them to a luxury level.
7.) When were you surprised by the kindness of strangers on a trip?
Everywhere I have been! I find that when you are kind, open, and approachable, you will attract that same energy from others. I try to approach situations with sincerity. I have met the most amazing people on my travels and most often encounter kindness. There are those times when someone is rude. Do not take it personally, as I assume that the individual is having a hard day. I work to diffuse the situation with kindness.
8.)What inspired you to travel for extended periods of time or live in a new country?
My personality loves experiencing the “new” and the “different”. Every time I travel it just feeds the fuel of desire to continue to explore and seek out an original experience. I find other cultures and their histories fascinating. I am not a person that can do the same thing day in and day out. The ability to grow and challenge myself with either adventure, or just expanding my views of the world, is my passion. The more I seek this, the more the world offers and provides me with new and exciting moments.
9.)I travel because….
It is my passion, it fuels me, and it enables me to grow as an individual more than anything else I have done in life. I am grateful and humbled that I can travel and appreciate every experience.
For up-and-coming travel writers, Pam recommends:
My name is Pam and I am #Always5Star! I have a real love and passion for travel. I still remember my first travel experience and the exciting anticipation of looking forward to an adventure. The joy of embracing the new and discovering the unfamiliar while traveling. I appreciate the memories and reflections from these trips, that live on and that inspires me to do more travel. I have a goal to continually enhance my travel experiences and to share what I learn with others so that they too may take their travel to the next level, no matter what level they are traveling at.
My husband and I have been married 32 years. We have six adopted children that came into our home in various ways, ranging from at-birth to the adoption of three sisters from foster care. Our children are all special and amazing, however, like most people, we have had some challenges while raising them. I discovered that when we traveled together as a family, a special bond took place and brought us closer together as a family. To accomplish traveling with such a large family, I became obsessed with learning how to maximize our travel within our budget. I quickly identified that loyalty programs and credit card points could make a real difference. It became more than a hobby to search the internet for special prices and deals. I discovered over time, that I was able to elevate my travel experiences all the way to a luxury level. The more of these special moments I experienced, the hungrier I became. I spent hours devouring information on the internet in order to accomplish this goal without exceeding my budget and finances.
My children are grown now, and my husband and I continue to enjoy amazing luxury travel. My passion is to share my knowledge and experiences. I love and enjoy being part of such a wonderful social media travel community! It has been such a gift in my life and in such a profound way. I am truly grateful for the memories, and for friends and relationships that I am making. I look forward to continuing to connect with others and to enhance their travel experiences too! Cheers to traveling Always5Star!
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Our next Travel Influencer interview will be up in a week, follow the series here.