For Brooke Jacobson, travel is a way of life. When she was sixteen, she kept track of her travels on a small globe. One day, her mom saw it and expressed amazement at how many places Jacobson had already visited. Jacobson responded sadly, saying, “I know. There are so many places I still haven’t been!”
An adventure-seeker through and through, Jacobson has made it her mission to enjoy the beauty and wonder that this world has to offer. After backpacking five continents, singing on cruise ships, and becoming a self-proclaimed “gypsy vagabond,” she decided to pursue an opportunity that would help her travel dreams reach new heights. Literally.
Four years ago, a friend tried to convince Jacobson to apply to flight school with her. Despite her love of adventure, Jacobson’s first response was, “Serve peanuts and beverages all day? No, thank you.” Since then, a few things have changed.
Jacobson has been serving peanuts and beverages as a flight attendant for 4 years. But she has learned that flight attendant life is not what it initially appeared to be. Her experiences have allowed her to view the world from a new perspective: 10,000 feet above the ground.
Mixing Business with Pleasure
As an international flight attendant, Jacobson flies to various countries on a regular basis and gets paid to do so. Many flight attendants rave about the perks of being able to travel around the world for the first time. Getting paid to travel is a sweet deal. The airline pays for Jacobson’s hotel, food, and travel expenses in the cities she spends the night in. Instead of having to budget her living expenses, Jacobson only has to budget her time. With only 24 hours in a city at a time, she must be selective with the places that she visits. Most people who visit London spend days exploring the museums and famous landmarks that London has to offer. While Jacobson has visited these places, she now spends her stopovers in London (and most over places) soaking in the culture in unique, off-the-beaten-path sites. She often discovers these locations through recommendations from coworkers or natives of the cities she visits.
Working with hundreds of people each day presents many opportunities to learn from people of many different backgrounds. Though many passengers let their travel anxiety out on the flight attendants servicing their flights, many seek and offer advice. This advice has often led Jacobson to discover hidden gems in the midst of tourist traps. Not many people can say that they know where to find the best hummus spots in Tel Aviv. Her field of work allows her to explore the world at a deeper level as she sees it through the eyes of locals and other seasoned travelers.
For Jacobson, travel just isn’t the same without a touch of spontaneity. As a flight attendant, she gets free flights to any location in the world. So what does she do when she’s off the clock? Travel! Of course, these free flights are through standby, so many times, plans fall through. One time, Jacobson made plans with some friends to meet up in Buenos Aires, but the flight was full, so she couldn’t make it to Argentina. Instead, she studied the departing flights board and made the most of her time by catching a flight to Istanbul, Turkey, instead.
A New Travel Perspective
A benefit of flying the same routes repeatedly is that repetition makes you notice new things each time. Suddenly, the tourist traps plastered with shops selling the same trinkets aren’t as appealing as they once were. Ten years ago, Jacobson visited St. Paul’s Cathedral as a tourist. After a cursory glance at the cathedral, she said it was pretty and was ready to move on. Recently, she returned to visit the cathedral. This time, however, she left three hours later with a crick in her neck from gazing at the ceiling for so long.
When Jacobson talks to people about her job, most assume that flying around the world is a dream come true. But Jacobson disagrees. It isn’t the flying that makes travel exciting. For her, it is all about the adventure. She said, “When something becomes too natural, it loses its excitement. The same can be said about most day jobs. Once the newness wears off, work becomes commonplace. I try not to get bored by searching for the adventure. It’s everywhere. I just have to look for it.”
Every part of the world is unique. There are always new and beautiful things to discover. But even the most beautiful things can be shadowed by a negative perspective. It takes creativity to find adventure in each situation, but it is always worth it. According to Jacobson, “No matter where you are, be it a small town or New York City, there’s always a lull. Even international travel can get boring. When that happens, I remind myself that there’s always something new to experience.” With that perspective, Jacobson happily thrives off of the adrenaline that comes from experiencing cultures all over the world, one flight at a time.
There are a lot of things that can get under your skin when you’re stuck in a metal tube. So help keep flight attendants sane by doing the following during your next flight:
- Be courteous. Say please and thank you. Take out your headphones when flight attendants are talking to you. It makes a world of a difference.
- Mind the bins. The overhead bins are for everyone’s use, so don’t try to squeeze in your huge bag if you know it won’t fit. If it doesn’t fit and you leave it in the bin, your flight attendant will have to check the bag instead of preparing the cabin for departure, thus causing a delay.
- Don’t walk around barefoot. You aren’t on a beach, so put some socks on! The cabin is not the most sanitary place to walk around barefoot. So for your health and everyone else’s, pack a pair of socks in your carry-on.
- Don’t self-upgrade. Unless you paid for it, you are not a VIP passenger. Just because there is an empty seat in first class doesn’t mean you are destined to sit in it. Upgrades only come through ticket agents.
- Be positive. No matter what you say, flight attendants cannot make the flight go faster. So stop complaining.