Humblebrag moment… we’ve got the absolute best Brand Ambassadors on this entire planet. We just do. We’ve got no shame in saying it! And seriously, after you read this blog about Interliner A-Team member, Julie (even if you haven’t read our other Brand Ambassador features), you’ll totally agree and know exactly why we say that.
For one reason, our Brand Ambassadors are part of just, the best community it the world – the airline community. For another, because they’re part of this exclusive community they tend to be some of the most giving humans you’ve ever met.
Julie is all of these things and much, much more. Read on to discover what exactly makes us so proud of this travel passionate momma, and what you can learn from her incredible thirst to give back.
Who is Julie?
An Airline Retiree
Not technically an airline retiree, Julie is the wife and widow of a gentleman who was. Allow us to explain. Julie’s husband Marc is the gentlemen that we speak of, and the one who she says gifted her with the world.
Marc was an excellent and well-loved pilot instructor for American (after America West and U.S. Airways). In fact, he very literally wrote the book on flying (AKA the pilot’s manual) for the two combined airlines. Not wanting to lose this incredible member of their team, Marc didn’t get the chance to retire before he passed.
When he did, Marc’s supervisor wanted to make sure that Julie and her family were well-taken care of, and gave them Marc’s retirement benefits anyway. Something Julie’s incredibly grateful for, Marc’s union representative calls every quarter just to check in.
A Passionate Traveler
Julie was Marc’s registered travel companion for 10 years before they married, which means they got a lot of time to travel together. Not one to be the most adventurous, Julie gladly stepped in to show Marc how it was done.
“I always loved travel growing up. I used to sit and piece together National Geographic maps and dream about the places I wanted to go. I really can’t remember not playing explorer!”
According to Julie, she used to listen to her father talk about places like Cuba and Northern Ireland, saddened that she’d probably never get to visit them in her lifetime. Well, little did they know that she would! Because of their conversations, when the opportunity presented itself she took it.
Traveling with the Airlines
If y’all think you’ve got non-revving figured out, you gotta get to know Julie. She can non-rev with the best of them! Mother to a large blended family, she travels whenever she can. And of course, like all of our Brand Ambassadors, travel isn’t Julie’s only talent.
Julie is a freelance photographer and writer, whose stories you can find on her site. She’s incredibly gifted and uses her talents while she travels. “I’m a Girl Scout. I always want to leave a place better than I found it. Being able to travel like I do is a gift, and with that gift comes responsibility.” Throughout her travels, Julie has spent a lot of time volunteering.
“The summer I turned fifty, not long after Marc passed, I decided to go backpack solo in Thailand. There I spent a large amount of time at a shelter with girls who had been rescued from trafficking, or who have been taken to the shelter because they were at risk. I used photography to give them empowerment and a visual voice, as well as taught them photography skills. I still keep in touch with some of those girls.”
“That’s how I got involved in anti-trafficking efforts! There’s a ranch for trafficking survivors near Chattanooga. I fly in, do work for them and provide empowering portraits for survivors. I found out about the ranch while in Honduras from a fellow American who is involved in the ranch’s anti-trafficking efforts. I don’t think was a coincidence. Now we travel together and she uses my buddy passes!”
Julie Tells All – Rapid Fire Questions
After we dried our eyes, incredibly touched by Julie’s heart for others, we plunged into our favorite part of the interview (the rapid-fire section) anxious to learn more about Julie’s incredible life, travels, and passions. Here’s what she had to say.
Julie, you’ve got such an incredible outlook on life. Teach us your ways.
“Honestly, being a widow is not what I would have chosen, but I’ve discovered that doesn’t mean my life can’t be everything I never knew I always wanted. I still definitely have hard days, but I find that self-portraiture can help. ”
That’s such an awesome way to look at it! Any adventures on the horizon?
“Iceland! Marc always wanted to go, so I’m going to take him there. In fact, I take him everywhere I travel and spread a little bit of his ashes there. You know, say a prayer and take a photo of the spot. I’m putting together a book!
I also want to go to South America. I haven’t been anywhere south of the equator so it’ll be a new experience for me. But really, I’m up for anywhere! I find that no matter where I go it’s always so empowering. There’s so much to learn at every new destination.
Take for example Hong Kong. When I first got there it was sensory overload. It took me a minute to adjust, but once I did it was so amazing! I find I put on a little bit of a travel persona, it helps me be less introverted and more open to the people around me. After all, every person you meet has a story, and there’s always something you can learn from them.”
So true, Julie! We’re so happy that it’s empowering for you. Sometimes traveling alone can be daunting!
“Yes it can be, but the trick is to be open to experiences. When I decided to take my very first solo trip I chose to start with Victoria, British Columbia. When I was there I wanted to not be the focused and task-oriented mom I was at home, and pretty quickly that was put to the test. While on the ferry, heading to the island from Vancouver, a very large heavily tattooed man came and sat down next to me at this little table.
He then started telling me how he had just been released from prison that morning, and how he was so excited to go see his daughter! He asked if it was okay if he sat there with me, and I lied and told him it was. I figured I was pretty safe. (After all, he wanted to see his daughter, we were in a public place, and he was being very forthright with his situation.)
So I sat and talked to him the whole time. He was fascinating, and it was a first-hand study on how to not judge a book by its cover. Normally, like if he was in my grocery store, I wouldn’t have noticed him, I’d be too in my own world. This gave me the opportunity to do the opposite of that! And I’m really glad it did.”
Julie, you are SO BRAVE. And you have so many amazing stories! Do you have any other favorites from traveling?
“I do. I, of course, always love seeing people give up their upgraded seat to someone in uniform. Just like, hey, you know I’ve been able to sleep and live in first class while you’ve been sleeping and living in a tent in the desert protecting our country. Please take my seat.
One time I was the one waiting in line to board. The soldier behind me had just gotten state-side and hadn’t been able to let his wife know that he was on American soil yet. I immediately handed him my cell phone. He started to object, but I told him that I didn’t care where he was calling. I was more than happy to be the one serving him in that moment!”
*Trying not to cry. Trying not to cry.* Um, any, uh, favorite trips? (A tear sneaks out.)
“Havanna! Amazing!! There’s such a rich culture there, and the arts! Oh, the arts. There’s this place a little bit outside the city. It’s called Fusterlandia, designed by this man named Jose Rodriguez Fuster. There are 80+ homes in this community and they’re all painted brightly and covered in mosaics. It’s like Legoland for adults! It’s just amazing. It is the ULTIMATE art installation experience, and Cuba is an art lovers paradise.
But I also loved Ireland. It’s so historic. There were some places that were just so incredible that I had to put my camera down to be fully present. I mean think of all the people who had walked there and lived their lives there before you. There was this Druid stone circle I visited. When I was there I put my hands on the middle altar stone (that people had put their hands on for thousands of years) and it was just so powerful. People have been doing that and leaving their prayers there for over four millennia. It was just such an honor to be part of that.”
That sounds SO COOL. Ok, any last words of advice for our Interliners?
“Be open, and say yes to experiences. You never know who you’re going to meet when you say yes, who they’ll connect you to, or what new experience will come from that! So just be open.”
We want to send a giant THANK YOU to Julie for allowing us to interview her, and for the magical content she sent our way. Please, please, make sure you check out her website. It’s full of amazing photography and even more stories, so if you loved what she had to say here you’re really going to love her online musings! Also, check her out on Instagram, she’s got an outstanding collection there as well.
If you love what you read here, want to know more about Julie’s philanthropic efforts, or you have any other questions for Julie please feel free to comment in the section below. We’d love to hear from you! Until next time Interliners. Safe travels, and keep those eyes on the skies!
Author: Emily (@ID90 Travel)
Emily is the Content Marketing Manager here at ID90 Travel. An avid non-rev flyer (she grew up in the industry), and passionate private pilot, Emily can’t get enough of all things aviation. When not writing awesome ID90 Travel content she can be found on a Texas patio, being one with nature, or annoying her ID90T co-workers with her many, many, crowdsourcing questions.