In part III of my interview with Zip Set Go’s April Mescher, we take an up close look at her life to see where she has traveled, what she wanted to be as a kid, and how she got to where she is today. We will also explore her favorite destinations, previous travel jobs, travel pet peeves, and what she has learned from traveling.
If you missed the previous interviews with April, check out Part I Social media and the travel community and Part II How travel and tourism have changed.
1. Where did you grow up? What were your interests as a kid?
I grew up in Dayton, Ohio and played soccer all year round. I also loved gymnastics, baseball, the outdoors, camping, and fishing.
2. What did you want to be when you grew up?
Believe it or not, exactly what I am doing now. When I was 13, I got a book from my aunt about careers in the travel industry. I read the book and knew I wanted to do something in travel. From that point, I always knew that this is what I wanted to do. I’ve worked in hotels, leisure hotels, and other places. Now with Zip Set Go, I am figuring out what it means to have an online travel community around the world.
3. Did you travel when you were young? Where did you go?
A lot of my travels came from a traveling soccer team. We traveled all over the US for soccer tournaments. For family vacations, we went down to Florida in the Keys area.
4. What was your first job?
My first job was at Friendship Village (a retirement community) working in the dining room and taking orders from people about what they wanted for dinner. I was essentially waitress but I got to see the same people at the same tables every day.
All of my friends worked there and our schedule was from 3:30 to 7 pm. While it was my only pseudo waitress job that I had, I looked at it as a social event where people shared a meal. I got to know the people there as I brought them their food each day. It was much more an entertainment and food thing than a restaurant.
5. What experience or moment got you hooked on traveling?
It was my first time on a plane – my 8th grade trip to Washington DC. I was without my parents and it seemed like such an “adult adventure” staying in a hotel, dining in restaurants, and going on several tours. I was so into the trip the “chaperon” selected my girlfriend and me to participate in setting the wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was an amazing experience.
6. How did you get involved in the travel industry?
I got myself involved. It was always an interest that I had. My first travel job was an internship with ABC travel company. My first paid travel job was with Marriott hotels in reservations. Originally, I went to a travel school and interviewed for a gift shop position. I didn’t want to do it but then the reservation job opened up.
I loved seeing everyone come in and enjoyed meeting them face to face. Being able to assist people in person and over the phone was a good first step in learning communication and conflict resolution.
7. Where have you traveled?
I am fortunate to be able to go to many places with my job. I’ve been to Europe and lived in Italy for a month. Other places – Paris, Switzerland, Greece, Germany, Turkey, Canada, Austria, Budapest, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, all over the Caribbean (Tahiti, Costa Rica). I’ve not been to South America or Asia.
8. Are you a beach or a mountain person? What’s your favorite place?
I have to say beach but I am finding that I like the mountains more as I get exposed to them. Growing up, all of my experiences were at the beach. I recently spent a lot of time in Oregon and really like the mountains.
9. What is your favorite destination (US and International)? Why?
I like many destinations for different reasons. As you get older and experience more, that changes. For a long time, it was Greece. Then New Zealand, then a safari in South Africa. So South Africa is my favorite.
It’s just magical as you are stepping into another world. My favorite thing that I did was watch lightning roll across the the bush while having an astrology lesson. The night was clear and lightning rolled across the national park. It was awesome.
We stayed in Singita Game Reserve at the Lebombo Lodge resort where you have your own tree house with decks that spill out all over the trees. You also can sleep inside or outside. They give you a big net with a canister for your phone, a light, and bug spray.
My favorite destination in the US is Chicago. It has great good and is easy to get around. While I love New York City as well, Chicago or Boston is my city pick. Outside of the city, I will say somewhere in Florida because the of the beach and places are easy to get to. I’ll pick the whole state because it is so easy.
10. What are your pet peeves when traveling?
I get annoyed with those who get annoyed with people that work at the airlines. They can’t control the mechanics or the weather. Also, people that talk very loudly on their cell phones so others can know how important they are. I hate it when my bags get lost too.
11. What things have you learned about yourself from traveling (good and bad)?
I am not very patient. I want to be. Also, I don’t take care of myself when I travel. I stay up later, don’t work out, and don’t eat well.
On the good side, I think I am smarter than the average traveler and travel well by myself. Because of that, I am able to help people when they have issues. I helped a Japanese family with the value added tax (VAT). I also have fun wherever I go. I like to explore and can have fun anywhere.
12. What has your experience with people and cultures taught you?
It has given me an appreciation for the country that I live in. It’s helped me with tolerance. I’ve been able to get a deeper understanding and a proper perspective of things. We get information from the wrong sources – newspaper and media – that can skew what the facts are.
With tolerance, we can understand that people have a different opinion on things and accept that. I want to teach my kids to be citizens of the world. There are different cultures that don’t want a Nintendo.
People from other countries like to hear what we have to say. It helps them and is mutually beneficial.
13. What was your most memorable experience in your travels?
Getting married. We flew away on vacation and got married on a beach in Maui by ourselves. We had talked about it before and when we were there, we just decided to do it. It was very cool. We threw a big party when we got back.
14. What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from traveling? What’s the best advice you’ve received about travel?
Be safe and be alert but be yourself. Don’t take anything that you are not afraid to come home with.
Recently, I found a guy’s iPad. I didn’t trust to give it to someone at the airport so I called Apple and got his number. I called and left him a message. He called me back and said he had played my voice mail hundreds of times today. It showed him that there are still good people.
It’s the golden rule – treat people how you want to be treated.
What I’ve learned
April has had a lot to share from her own personal experiences and her many jobs in the travel industry. As travel changes, we need to embrace things like social media and the online community of travelers that can help enhance our travel experiences.
When we travel, there is a lot we don’t understand about the things that go on in the world of travel. Patience is a key when traveling and understanding that there is something out there for every type of traveler allows people to see that there isn’t just one way to travel or book a vacation.
For destinations, we all have our favorite places. We are unique as individuals and so are our travel experiences. We can enjoy the beach, the mountains, a safari, a city, the country, or a rain forest. Each experience, and the people we meet, can teach us and impact our lives. What we do with it and how we share our experiences with others can make all of us better citizens of the world.
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