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.
Occupation: Senior Account Director, The Dalton Agency (Atlanta)
Hometown: Rye Brook, NY
Residence: Atlanta (Please don’t call it Hotlanta!)
College: Southern Connecticut State University
College major: B.S. Sociology, Criminology (It is amazing that I’ve come as far as I have with a sociology major.)
Facebook: Roland Alonzi
Short bio: Roland is a 20-year public relations and marketing communications professional. All 20 years have been spent within the travel/tourism, hospitality and lifestyle industries. His areas of expertise range from media relations and crisis communications to experiential/guerrilla marketing and blogger/influencer campaigns. Roland also has more than 13 years of media training experience.
Roland’s extensive destination PR experience includes Georgia Tourism, Colorado Tourism Office, Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, Lee County (Florida) Visitor & Convention Bureau, Jamaica Tourist Board, and others.
At Dalton Agency, Roland leads the account team for Georgia Tourism, The Kess Group, a full service VIP concierge service, and provides strategic counsel for Merlin Entertainments, operators of The Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds Orlando, and SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium.
How often do you fly? Since moving to Atlanta, and representing the tourism industry in my home state of Georgia, my travel has eased since my once-a-month trips to Denver. Before moving to Atlanta, I flew 12-15 times a year. United used to love me. Now I’ll fly 6-8 times a year for business, and a few personal flights added in.
How many countries have you been to? Thanks to my many years representing the Jamaica Tourist Board, I’ve been to nearly every Caribbean nation. All told, I’ve been to more than 40 countries.
How many continents have you been to? Four.
Earliest travel memory: Growing up, much like the namesake of this website, I had a fear of flying. When I took my first PR job at Peter Martin Associates, a boutique, travel-specialized PR agency, I was on a plane to St. Thomas, USVI after about eight months. That was my first flight. I have since gotten over that fear, traveling to Jamaica more than 30 times over seven years, as well as South Africa (two times in the span of six weeks!).
Favorite American city: Chicago. I’m a lover of Chicago-style pizza.
Favorite international city: Cape Town, South Africa.
Least favorite country: Suriname. I hate bugs, and that place has massive bugs. Stuff you’d expect to see in a Dr. Seuss book.
I have no desire to go to: I’ll try anything once, and that extends to travel destinations.
Friendliest people in the world: Jamaica. Hands down. They have a bad reputation for being aggressive and pushy, but Jamaicans are the friendliest and warmest people in the world.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: The United States. They’re cranky, man. Every time I tell them not to stamp my passport, they lock eyes with me and stamp the middle of the page.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Probably Robben Island, in South Africa. Staring out of the barred window where Nelson Mandela was held from 1964-82 was so powerful. He was ultimately wrongfully imprisoned for 27 years. He was a great man and an even greater leader. Visiting Robben Island will change you.
Favorite airline: Emirates is the most amazing airline in the world. I’ve only flown them once, but the experience was second-to-none. Every airline can learn about service from them.
Aisle or window: I’m 6’ 3” so definitely the aisle.
Favorite airport lounge: Atlanta’s Delta lounge is pretty amazing.
Favorite U.S. airport: Atlanta, because it means that I’m home.
Favorite international airport: Paris-Charles de Gaulle.
Favorite hotel: If we are talking brands, I’m a Hyatt guy. Favorite hotel? It’s got to be Goldeneye in Oracabessa, Jamaica, in the parish of St. Mary. The main house is the former residence of Ian Fleming. Come on, man. James Bond. Enough said.
Favorite cruise line: I am not big on cruises, but if you want a cool experience, try Lindblad Expeditions. They offer soft-adventure cruises with anywhere from 28 to 148 passengers. The destinations they serve are epic. It’s bucket list material.
Favorite travel credit card: Hyatt Visa.
Favorite island: Jamaica.
Favorite beach: The seven-mile white sand beach in Negril, Jamaica. Honorable mention: any beach in Newport, RI, which is one of my favorite domestic vacation spots. I’d live there if I could.
Favorite National Park: Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. I used to represent Colorado for seven years, and I’ve been to Rocky Mountain National Park several times. Some of the most beautiful scenery your eyes will ever see.
Favorite fancy restaurant: St. Sicilia in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood. It’s a restaurant by Ford Fry, one of my favorite chefs.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Pat’s Hubba Hubba in Port Chester, NY. It’s actually a hole in the wall. But it has the best chili cheeseburgers and chili cheese fries anywhere. Pro tip: ask for the Hubba Water. It’s pinkish in color because it runs through the same line as the Hawaiian Punch. Honorable mention: Northside Tavern in Atlanta. Great live music, beer in plastic cups. What more can you want?
Favorite bar: BAR in New Haven. I spent many college nights at BAR. It’s still around 20 years later.
Favorite fruit: Avocados. That’s right. It’s technically a fruit. I bet you didn’t know that.
Favorite food: Pizza is my favorite food. I’m Italian, so it’s in my blood. I am an unabashed fan of Chicago-style pizza.
Least favorite food: Indian. Not a fan.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Non-alcoholic drink: Water. Alcoholic drink: Gin and club soda with a twist of lime. I don’t really drink much, though.
Favorite travel movie(s): I don’t really watch movies when I am traveling. I’m either reading a newspaper or magazine, or catching a few winks. But if I had to pick, you can give me an old school movie like Smoky and the Bandit or My Cousin Vinny. And did you know that both films are having anniversaries in 2017? 40 for Bandit and 25 for Vinny. Both films were shot in Georgia (shameless plug).
Favorite travel show(s): Two and a Half Men, Big Bang Theory or Seinfeld.
Favorite travel book(s): I’m heading to Destin, Florida for a beach trip with my wife and a couple of friends. You can say that my taste in books is fairly eclectic. I am packing Motley Crue’s “The Dirt” and “The Federalist Papers.” I love reading about the constitution and its origins. But the book I’ll be reading when flying to Hartford, CT over Labor Day is “Fake Food, Real Food” by my travel and food writer friend, Larry Olmsted. Life-changing book. You’ll never look at food the same.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler and Afar.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! Of course JohnnyJet.com is at the top of my list, since I first went on a press trip with Johnny in Puerto Vallarta Mexico in 2004. (I bet you didn’t think I’d remember that!) I also like USA Today’s online travel. Yahoo Travel before it shut down was pretty awesome. Paula Froelich transformed that site, and I’m sad it is gone.
5 things you bring on a plane: iPhone, laptop, wallet, sunglasses, and the latest issue of Guitar World magazine.
What do you always seem to forget? I have a habit of not bringing an iPhone charger with me. I always have to stop somewhere and buy one. I keep one in my briefcase at all times now.
What do you like least about travel? When you stay somewhere one day too long. My honeymoon is a great example. We went to Mexico, caught a stomach bug and got badly sunburned. By day three we were ready to come home.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? I’ll quote George Costanza here. “Duty Free is the biggest sucker deal in retail.” However, I wouldn’t be disappointed if you bought me a chocolate Toblerone.
Favorite travel app(s): Uber. It is the best idea ever.
Most embarrassing travel moment: One time, I was flying home from Florida after a long press trip. My flight was delayed twice, and I decided to change into gym shorts, a t-shirt and sneakers. I got into JFK at 9:00 pm, and as I was walking through the terminal, I ran into my boss. She gave me a once over and said, “Never fly dressed like that again, please.” I was mortified. Now when I fly on business, I am dressed business casual. At the minimum, a pair of slacks and a collared shirt. She was a great boss.
I’m embarrassed I haven’t been to: Italy. My mother and father were both from Italy, and I’ve never been to the homeland.
Worst travel moment: I was on a game reserve in South Africa and our Jeep ran into some mechanical issues. We were stranded, and they had to send another Jeep to pick us up. I was there with one of the best trackers in the business. He had to spray me with predator urine to ward off any potential threats. I asked the tracker how we would go about trying to outrun a lion of one approached us. He said, “You’re looking at it the wrong way. We don’t have to outrun the lion. I only need to outrun you.”
What’s your dream destination? Probably the Maldives. I have always wanted to go.
Favorite travel charity: USO Wishbook. You can buy everything from a care package to phone calls home to our brave men and women in the armed forces. We sleep under the blanket of freedom that they provide. We can’t do enough for them. The USO does a great job.
Best travel tip: It seems like common sense, but I always get to the airport earlier than I need to be there. Nothing is worse than looking at the long security line and trying to calculate how long it will take you to get to your gate. I also hate having to eat junk food because I was rushing through the terminal.