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.
Name: Rob Harper
Occupation: Director of Business Development, Namu Travel Group
Hometown: Marietta, Georgia
Residence: Panama City, Panama
College: University of Georgia
College major: Political Science
Facebook: Namu Travel Group
Short bio: Born and raised in Georgia, I was very lucky to have access to travel opportunities from a very young age. Just up the road from the world’s largest and busiest international airport. I took full advantage of all the direct flights that Atlanta had to offer. My parents have been co-presidents of my hometown’s (Marietta, Ga) local chapter of Sister Cities International for around 20 years. Marietta has two Sister Cities: Linz, Germany and Heredia, Costa Rica. Through official Sister Cities exchange programs I visited both countries many times and hosted dozens of groups in our own home.
What’s great about this program is that it fosters life-long relationships. My host families (one in each country) are truly part of the Harper family and my Costa Rican family even lives down the street from me in Panama City (having moved there to pursue career opportunities). Heavily involved in Rotary International as well, our family hosted dozens of Rotary scholarship students throughout my youth. So much experience to travel, foreign cultures, languages and new people gave me a strong sense of exploring more of the world. Little did I know that it would turn one day into a career.
In 2003 I graduated from the University of Georgia and moved to Costa Rica not long thereafter. I was the first sales representative hired by Costa Rican Vacations (my future business partners) over the phone (still proud of that little tid bit!). Working as a vacation planner for a while, the company decided to expand its offerings to the country of Panama. After a short stint back in school in the US, I moved to Panama City full time, became a partner in the business and ran the on the ground sales and operations of our Panama product—that was back in 2007. Now in my 7th year in Panama, I co-own the business with 4 other guys/I currently work as the Director of Business Development, pursuing new avenues for Namu as we continue to grow.
Languages spoken: Spanish, English.
How often do you fly? 2 times per month.
How many countries have you been to? 30
How many continents have you been to? 5.
Earliest travel memory: Visiting my retired grandparents on Long Beach Island, NJ.
Favorite American city: Bozeman, Montana.
Favorite international city: Munich.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: Czech Republic.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Old Town in Cartagena, Colombia.
Favorite airline: Aegean Airlines (Greece).
Favorite aircraft type: Biggest Boeing out there.
Aisle or window: Aisle—love to stretch out and I have zero problems sleeping on airplanes.
Favorite airport lounge: Delta VIP lounge in Atlanta.
Favorite U.S. airport: Denver.
Favorite international airport: Dubai.
Favorite hotel: Hotel Caesar Augustus, Island of Capri, Italy.
Favorite cruise line: Not a big fan of cruises. I’ll keep my feet on the ground.
Favorite travel credit card: AmEx Platinum.
Favorite island: Ios, Greece.
Favorite beach: Playa de Conchas, San Sebastian, Spain.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Societi Bistro, CapeTown, South Africa.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Weaver D’s, Athens, GA.
Favorite bar: Hofbrahaus, Munich.
Favorite fruit: Nectarine.
Favorite food: Skirt steak.
Least favorite food: Salmon.
Craziest thing you’ve eaten: Cow hearts.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Nice glass of Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina.
Favorite travel movie(s): Any of the Vacation movies with Chevy Chase.
Favorite travel show(s): Smart Travels with Rudy Maxa.
Favorite travel book(s): “Vagabonding” by Rolf Potts.
Right now I am reading: “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin, Kleon.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: Eyeontheroad.com, fourhourworkweek.com/blog, flygal.ca/blog.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! Kayak.com (the absolute best for searching flights), hipmunk.com, hoteltonight.com.
5 things you bring on a plane: Noise-cancelling headphones (Bose is a lifesaver), Kindle Fire, neck pillow, iPad and a magazine.
What do you always seem to forget? A pen! The world is full of immigration forms just waiting to be filled in.
What do you like least about travel? Getting through the security lines!
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Ramazzotti sambuca.
Favorite travel app(s): Waze, Skype, TripAdvisor.
What’s your dream destination? Seychelles Islands.
Best travel tip: Be ready to go with the flow. Part of the fun of travel is the unexpected and you can bet that something unexpected will happen on every single trip. Learn to roll with the punches and you’ll enjoy everything around you that much more. Don’t worry about taking a photo of everything you come across—be in the moment.