Sue Reddel, Chief Travel Officer
Sue Reddel has traveled the world extensively both for business and pleasure. She’s the Chief Travel Officer for our company Food Travel Network, Inc. We thought it would be fun to get an inside look at someone who actually does travel for a living!
FT: We know you love food and travel – that’s why you’re here! Many people would consider yours to be their dream job. So that we can learn how you got to this place, tell us a little about how travel evolved as an important part of your life.
SR: I started traveling for business years ago, mostly domestically. When I was asked to travel internationally I thought, absolutely! Then when my solo first long-haul trip came I was actually a little scared. What if I get lost? I don’t know the language. So many potential problems. The first trip went perfectly so I was set-up for success from there on out. You have to plan for everything, make lists, have your travel gear always ready and then expect some things to go wrong. You have a Mac they have a PC. Just carry the right cords & adapters and you’re fine. No problem is so big that it can’t be fixed or worked around. It’s also not glamorous. there will be plenty of sleepless nights, sleepless flights, missed connections, delays. You have to go with the flow and get rest when you can. Take care of yourself, drink plenty of water, eat right, get out and walk whenever you can. But most of all be safe know where you’re at and ask your hotel or colleagues for advice on getting around. Taxi drivers have a wealth of information from best local restaurants to what time to get to the airport. International airports are quirky so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
FT: What’s been the most surprising place you’ve ever visited? What made it so surprising?
SR: Ireland! I knew that it would be very green and pretty from the pictures I had seen. I wasn’t prepared for the wonderful people, rich history and delicious food I experienced in Ireland. I feel like I made a new friend at every stop. The food was varied and multi-cultural. I had wonderful Italian, French, Mexican and Irish food. The butter and cheeses are so fresh and creamy. I can’t wait to go back again.
FT: Tell us your funniest travel disaster story.
SR: I was in Holland and taking a train from Delft to Amsterdam to catch a flight. There was a train malfunction and I was stuck on a connecting station not knowing exactly where I was or how to get to the airport. I didn’t know the language. Everyone I asked couldn’t help me. I finally spotted a conductor getting out of another train and asked him what was going on and how to get to the airport. He said he had no idea and went to walk away. Fortunately, another gentleman asked him the same thing and then told me he worked at the airport. He told us how to connect on another platform. We dashed. I followed all the people with wheelies on the very crowded platform and prayed I was going the right direction because my flight was about 90 minutes from take off. I squeezed myself and my wheelie on the train, laughed and said out loud I hope I’m on the right train. A women right next to me laughed and asked where I was going, I told her, she said yes you are and she eased my mind when she said I would have plenty of time to catch my plane. I made the plane and even had time to grab a croissant for the plane ride.
FT: What’s your favorite food travel destination?
SR: Very hard question. Close tie between France and Spain. Different cultures and food but I adore them both. In France, prefer the casual bistro or brasserie fare of mussels, white fish, roasted chicken, frites and pâtés. And, of course, all the bakeries! Croissants, baguettes, macarons, I love them all. Spanish Tapas is another one of my favorite ways to eat. Small bites of all that’s good with great wine and cheese is a perfect meal for me.
FT: Where have you not yet been that you definitely want to go someday?
SR: So many places. High on the list are Morocco, Fiji, Moscow and Bangkok.
FT: What do you think makes food travel so appealing?
SR: For me it’s about learning how people have passed down food traditions and recipes from generation to generation. It’s amazing how so many of these recipes have made it to so many corners of the world. Hearing the stories behind the recipes, how people watched their grandmothers and mothers cooking and baking together, sharing techniques and stories. Those are the stories I love.
FT: What’s the one thing you won’t travel without?
SR: Noise-canceling headphones. Great way to drown out screaming kids, loud-talkers and snorers on a long flight.
Extra bonus prize question:
FT: What suggestions do you have for those with wanderlust?
SR: Go now. Don’t wait. There’s always a great excuse not to go. No time, no money, it’s scary, the list goes on and on. Life is too short. You just never know what tomorrow will bring. There are plenty of last-minute deals, rewards programs to accumulate points, ways to make traveling affordable for everyone. Find the way that works best for you and GO!
Lots of great information and stories. Thanks to Sue Reddel for talking with us!
THE QUICK BITE: Food Travelist Chief Travel Officer Sue Reddel explains how to get the most out of your travel and life.
If you’d like to talk to Sue Reddel more about her food travel experiences, have her write a guest blog post or speak at your event, you can email her at email@example.com.