Want to know how to travel in style, just like the pros? We check in with frequent fliers to find out how often they fly, their favorite destinations and what they never leave home without.
Name: Michaela Guzy
Occupation: Founder of OhThePeopleYouMeet.com
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
Residence: New York, NY
Facebook: Michaela Guzy
Instagram: @Michaelaguzy and @OTPYM
YouTube: Michaela Guzy
Short Bio: Before founding OhThePeopleYouMeet.com, Michaela Guzy, served as the VP/Global Travel and Strategic Development at American Express Publishing overseeing sales and marketing for blue-chip travel accounts for Travel+Leisure, Food&Wine, Departures, Executive Travel, Black Ink and Time Inc. brands.
Michaela helped launch Vacationist, a members-only flash sales site jointly created by Travel+Leisure & LuxuryLink.
While still consulting with many Fortune 500 companies, Michaela regularly speaks as a trusted travel authority at industry conferences including VisitBritain International Business Exchange and multiple Adventure Travel Trade Association Summits. Michaela served on the Advisory Board of Adventure Tourism Development Index and moderated International Luxury Travel Market’s (ILTM) launch of “Bright Young Things” workshop in Cannes in 2011 and 2012 (the 2012 white paper was picked up by Boston University to be used as a part of their hospitality curriculum).
In May 2013, Michaela moderated the first ever ILTM America’s Pop-Up Panels in New York City (click here for the resulting white paper). She also has guest segments as the “Female Road Warrior” on Peter Greenberg’s (CBS Travel Editor) radio show. Michaela contributes to a number of travel sites, most notably JohnnyJet.com, and publications including Virtuoso Life and Social Media Monthly.
Michaela grew up with her mother, father, and three sisters in St. Louis, MO, graduated from Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL and resides in New York City, NY when she is not on the road. She serves as the Corporate Vice-Chair, Fundraising and Events, for the New York Center for Children’s Junior Committee.
How often do you fly: Weekly
How many countries have you been to: 65
How many continents have you been to: 6
Favorite American city: Oh…I hate this question. I am clearly addicted to NYC, but I love to leave too. I love going everywhere, except maybe East St. Louis made famous in National Lampoon’s Vacation.
Favorite international city: Toss up between the chaos of Mumbai, India and Bangkok, Thailand OR the rustic beauty of Cape Town, South Africa and Sydney, Australia
Least favorite country: Hmmm as a lover of everywhere, I can’t say I don’t like a particular country. I am really saddened by the current events in Egypt and Syria. The unrest deters international arrivals and is hurting innocent civilians.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Toss up between Machu Picchu in Peru and Halebid Temple in Karnataka, India
Favorite airline: Delta for domestic and Qatar Airways for international carrier
Favorite aircraft type: Helicopter
Aisle or window: Window for long-haul and aisle for 2.5 hours or under.
Favorite airport lounge: Marhaba Lounge, Emirates Terminal 3, Dubai, UAE
Favorite U.S. airport: I love the new T-4 Delta terminal at JFK.
Favorite international airport: Kansai International Airport, Osaka (KIX). Only in Japan will you find an island entirely created and dedicated to the airport.
Favorite hotel: A mixture of hotel, safari lodge and tent– Saruni Samburu, North Laikipia, Kenya.
Do you unpack into the dresser/closet? Or live out of your suitcase? I always put my hanglng clothes in the closet straight from my Tumi (inclusive of a hanging bag), but unless I am somewhere for over 3 days, I don’t bother unpacking the rest.
Favorite cruise line: Crystal Cruises for the open seas and Aqua Expeditions for cruising down the Amazon (and soon the Mekong in Vietnam!).
Favorite island: Kangaroo Island, Australia
Favorite fancy restaurant: I would define it as rustic luxury, farm to table, any of Gabriel Stulman’s restaurants in NYC – Joseph Leonard. Here is a video interview I did with Gabriel last summer.
Favorite hole in the wall: Crif Dogs on St. Mark’s Place in the East Village of NYC may appear to just be a hot dog joint, but through a hidden phone booth, you’ll find a chic lounge with delicious concoctions—make a reservation just to be safe!
Favorite fruit: MANGOS!
Favorite food: Anything that I can put mustard on. The spicier the better. Curry, a close second runner up.
Least favorite food: While I appreciate most sushi, not a fan of the Uni…it’s a funky color and the texture is way to gritty for me.
Drink of choice (In the air and on the ground): In the air- a crisp white. You lose some of your sense of taste in that altitude. On the ground…a refreshing gin and soda with cucumber.
Favorite travel show(s): Who doesn’t like Shark Week?
Favorite travel book(s): Malaria Dreams – prepare to cry laughing.
Right now I am reading: Cutting for Stone about Ethiopia.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: AFAR and OhThePeopleYouMeet.com of course! Recently came across a great site on navigating Brazil: www.HiddenPousadasBrazil.com
Five things you bring on a plane: Oh my whore kit for long haul travel: baby powder, deodorant, travel size perfume, toothbrush and paste. For trips over 2.5 hours, the neck pillow, eye mask, noise proof headphones and compression socks (you can follow them #sockbattle2013 on Instagram).
What do you always seem to forget: Sunglasses. I have about 8 million pairs because I have to buy them every time I run through an airport. The latest pair that I’ve managed to hold on to for almost 2 months: Ray Ban Wayfarers in orange—a purchase from Sunglass Hut at JFK.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport duty free store? Hmmm maybe the sunglasses I forgot, or Bulgari Jasmin Noir (perfume), but less than 3 ounces so I don’t have to check it.
Favorite travel app(s): Word Lens (translator app) and Oanda (conversion)
Most embarrassing travel moment: I came across an email dated November 15, 2009, addressed to my close friends….It’s one of my funniest moments……let’s just say it continues to circulate. It’s one of Michaela’s funniest memories from abroad, that required a large glass wine (or perhaps several) afterwards. Hoping you enjoy and looking forward to hearing about your stories from the road.
Subject Line: “Oh sweet Jeezus”:
I just had the most hilarious and mortifying experience of my entire life. I don’t remember the last time I’ve laughed so hard. To set the stage: I’m in Marrakech, Morocco for a conference with my very formal, prestigious and well-respected senior colleague. She’s about 60. Can I re-emphasize very formal? So I’m honored when she tells me that she has arranged for a spa treatment for me with her at this private palace. We arrive and there is the standard Moroccan chaos taking place and let’s remember no one speaks English. I follow her into the changing room. They instruct us to get naked via hand gestures. Ok, so you think, this is the worst of it. Hell I’m in Northern Africa- why not?
Ever heard of a hammam treatment? Well this was even more outrageous. I say goodbye to my colleague and am lead into a room by a fully clothed Moroccan – MAN. Right…I’m instructed to sit in a room with nothing more than a drain on the floor, a faucet and a bucket. He disappears. About 5 minutes later he reenters in what we in America would refer to as see through boxers and escorts my colleague in (she was wrapped in a towel by the way- I was not given the honor). My heart is in my stomach. He gestures for one of us to come up and of course she nudges me. He then gesticulates that I am to lay on the floor face up! He proceeds to rub every (and I really mean every) square inch of my body for 20 odd minutes. He spread my legs, put my right leg over his shoulder…it’s really just making me blush even typing this. He then takes out the equivalent of a loofah and scrubs me down. Then it’s her turn and she decides she would prefer a massage and leaves!
So I think, ok, I’m done. But no! Back on the floor I go all slimy with soap. He literally grabs me by the feet and pulls my wet body over the floor until he has me just where he wants me. I thought it couldn’t possibly get any more insane. Ha! Let’s just say it was yoga, naked and slimy with a non-English speaking Arab man throwing my legs over my head, apart, and three times in a row he lifted me over him (envision the game “airplane” you used to play as a kid). Did I mention he made little kissy noises each time he spread my legs? I mean I was seriously crying I was laughing so hard. I couldn’t breath. Then he threw a bucket of steaming hot water at me. A sign I took as the completion of the treatment, but once again, my cultural barometer was off…
He proceeds to peel an orange and squeeze above my head. Rubs oil in my hair. Pushes me into a pool of freezing water and then gave me a shower. The best part is, I paid to be man handled and was even expected to leave a tip. Oh well…I’ll chalk it up to one of my most memorable life experiences. Hope you are all well.
Xxoo from Marrakech,
Worst travel moment: Missing my flight, not once, but twice. First the line at security and then fell asleep at my gate and missed the second. Needless to say, I am pretty loyal to my preferred airlines/alliances so I get special perks and have both TSA Pre Check and Global Entry to cut the lines.
What’s your dream destination: EVERYWHERE I’VE NOT BEEN! Itching to go to Bhutan, Mongolia, Bulgaria and Portland, Oregon.
Favorite travel charity: AMREF is the African Medical and Research Foundation working towards better health for Africa.
Best travel tip:
Travel light (who wants to pay fees to check?),
travel often (because it’s awesome to experience the world)
& always be ready to capture the moment–think of all the people you’ll meet (the GoPro Hero 3 is my favorite light weight gadget – perfect for sneaking into a club and capturing your favorite DJ or snorkeling off the Great Barrier Reef of Australia).