60 Seconds with Caryn Carson, American Way Road Warrior

60 Seconds with Caryn Carson, American Way Road Warrior

We recently interviewed Caryn Carson, winner of American Way magazine’s annual Road Warrior contest. As the new Road Warrior, Caryn received two million Hilton HHonors points and one million AAdvantage miles. We asked her a few questions about her experiences and what she plans to do with her miles and points. To read more about the contest, visit www.insideflyer.com/link/?2346.

InsideFlyer
What were some of your first thoughts when you heard the news that you were the American Way grand prize winner?
Caryn Carson
At first cogent thoughts were hard to come by because I was completely ecstatic and overwhelmed and literally jumping up and down. Then there were two thoughts that came to my mind. The first was, wow, what have I done? This is going to be a wild ride. But then my thoughts turned into a lot of gratitude for the many people I knew, and the many people I didn’t know, who actually got me there–people who took the time to go to the Web site and choose me. Those were my first two thoughts.

IF
Have you spent any of the miles or points you won?
Carson
I’ve at least committed to spending them. I’m going to Paris on Thursday of this week and I used some of the miles to upgrade myself on the way from Dallas to Paris and then I’m spending some nights at the Hilton in Paris, which is by the Arc de Triomphe. That’s probably a hotel I would never think to stay in because it’s a really nice hotel, but it’s a Hilton hotel so I’m going to use some points to stay there. I also gave away some miles to The Stewpot, a community organization I’m involved with in Dallas.

IF
Have you had any friends or family members ask for miles or airline tickets?
Carson
I’ve had many ask … I think in jest. My significant other, Brian, and I are taking his son to London after his high school graduation with some of the American miles. They didn’t really ask but there was a lot of hinting going on.

IF
What other plans do you have to spend them?
Carson
Brian and I both have milestone birthdays this year towards the end of the year so while we haven’t made any firm plans, we’re both thinking very seriously about a trip to South America to spend some time down there rather than having a party for ourselves.

IF
How much do you travel and what do you enjoy the most about it?
Carson
It really varies how much I travel. I’ve averaged about two trips per month this year, which in some road warrior circles isn’t very much. But I used to travel a great deal more. Due to the recession and economic cutbacks at my company, I try to limit my travel as much as possible. The thing I like most about being on the road for work is meeting my clients in person. I’m an employment lawyer and while a lot can be done from an office and over the phone and by email, there’s nothing like getting out and actually seeing my clients. To me that’s the best part of being on the road.

IF
And the least?
Carson
I would have to say the fatigue associated with it. There’s something about travel that gets my adrenaline going and I imagine most people feel that way–and a lot of it is that I have to get from point A to point B. And I have to do my work, be on the ball and be on time–and that can be taxing on the body. I don’t realize until I’m on the plane on the way back just how completely whipped I am and it’s not a good feeling.

IF
Can you tell us about one memorable travel experience?
Carson
A few years ago my father and I were lucky enough to be able to accompany my mother, who at the time was working for the International Monetary Fund, to Dubai. It was great to explore the Middle East since that was my first trip to the area. Dubai is a land of contrast in terms of opulence and hospitality on the one hand and heat and the desert on the other hand. We did an extension trip to Petra in Jordan, which is a country I really fell in love with in terms of its kind people and spirituality.

IF
Can you give our readers one “road warrior” tip?
Carson
It would be as simple as this: use your miles. This is something I’ve had a hard time doing myself. When I saw the movie “Up in the Air” a few months ago, I realized I identified way too closely with the character Ryan Bingham. In many respects I’m not like him, but part of his story was that he never used his miles. He just racked them up and chased an elusive number. And I have found that I was very good at getting miles but not very good at using them. With the contest prize, I’ve told myself I can unclench the fist and actually use some of those miles, whether it’s for travel upgrades or an opportunity to be generous to friends, family or organizations I’m involved in. In terms of getting the most out of your membership, it sounds pretty simple but I imagine many of your readers are like me and get so focused on getting the miles that you don’t think about using the miles.

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