… My perfect vacation experience starts with the pre-planning that goes into a trip. I would go beyond the popular places, look at blogs, comments and reviews — reading what people have to say is the biggest suggestion I have while planning a trip.

I always build an itinerary, so great communication with the hotel or resort where you are staying is key for me. Whether I would like feedback on things to do or local restaurants, locals always know best. Get to know your concierge before you get to your hotel, good turn around time on emails is also a must.

Seamless check-in comes next, along with getting my personal items to my room in a timely fashion if assistance is needed, if I have something to do shortly after arrival, especially for females: We need our things.

And lastly, just an overall ease and hassle-free environment where the staff are both gracious and understanding given the ‘covid climate’ — sometimes we don’t know all the rules and being kind goes a long way today.


As part of my series about “developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Whytney Rawls.

Whytney is a blogger, travel curator, and flight attendant who founded @whyts_picks to highlight unique places and experiences worldwide while also helping lift small, local businesses wherever and whenever possible. Whytney strives to educate travelers on where to go and what to do and inspire community and compassion through a pay-it-forward philosophy.

As someone who has thrived personally and professionally in hospitality, sales, travel, and aviation — and who understands and gets what a traveler wants to know…Whytey created and curated this platform to be a fun and exciting space to connect and share journeys with other like-minded travel enthusiasts — young and old, close and far, female and male. In addition to sharing experiences, Whytney intends on educating others on how-to plan trips, pack for trips, tips & tricks, and many other helpful travel hacks. 
This is what ‘Whyts Picks’ is all about.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have always loved to travel. I was born in Hawaii, my Father was in the military and my Mother is from the Caribbean. Being far away from all of our family had me flying far distances at a very young age…

Fast forward many years, while I was in college I landed a job in student travel sales and that’s where the travel bug bit me…Imagine being a college student selling and running spring break trips with a team in my age range for 2–4 weeks in the Bahamas, Mexico , Dominican Republic, etc…Not only did I learn to love travel, but I also learned everything about travel from the operational standpoint of managing the trips and all the guests.

After graduating college, I was easily able to plan, finance and organize a backpacking trip through Europe with a friend who was living in London at the time. It was travel on my own for myself and from there I was hooked on the entire experience of travel. I found my passion.

I tried other things, but nothing satisfied me like travel. I worked in sales for years and did well, but I could never sit still and knew I needed to do what I loved and not something that just paid the bills. I chose my personal happiness over money, quit my job and became a flight attendant with the ultimate goal of becoming a travel professional. As a flight attend I started to travel even more, picking interesting places I had never been and finding unique experiences and places in every place I went. I naturally became the go to person for my friends and their friends, sharing my travel experiences, places and tips.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Since becoming a flight attendant, I have had more stories then I can count. some highlights:

  • I had someone sneak a bird on the plane, in a cage, in their bag.
  • I was traveling off duty and a passenger had a seizure, and the crew on duty sort of froze up, so I got up and took over the situation in normal clothes, and everyone was staring at me like I was a hijacker.
  • As we were preparing for takeoff someone tried to attack me for telling them they needed to be seated.
  • Got lost with no cell service during a hike in California
  • Went swimming in Hawaii and almost got swept out to sea by the current.
  • Flew with a comedian once in first class who had her black hood over her head and face mask on the whole flight before facemarks were mandatory.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake I made when first starting out traveling is when we were flying into Worcester Massachusetts. I was the Number One flight attendant so I was the one on the microphone. As we approached landing I announced we were in final decent for the city. The city of Worcester is pronounced WOOHSTAH as opposed to the way its spelled which would be

WOR CHEST TER — which is how I pronounced it to a full flight or people who lived there. I heard lots of giggles and laughs and from then on I made sure I knew the correct pronunciation of the city where we were flying to or from. Live and learn as they say.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?

Whether you are a flight attendant or a frequent traveller, I believe this holds true:

Sleep, eat well, and always plan to be on a plane longer than expected because, well you never know.

I would always recommend getting in an extra nap before flying or allowing yourself more time than you would normally for sleep, because if you are unprepared during a time of weather delays or operational issues you can end up running yourself into the ground. Which could end up not only affecting your mood, it can affect your health and mental stamina.

I know, I have been there.

From a flight attendant perspective, it is always finding the right balance between exploring a new city and getting the rest you need. It can be super tempting to explore a new and fascinating city, but when you have minimum rest on a layover you should really use it to relax, do a light workout, and put healthy foods into your body. You never know what can happen — it isn’t a 9–5 and can be both mentally and physically taxing.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I am very grateful for so may people who have helped me along the way. Initially however it was my grandmother who inspired me to not only live my dreams, but also to become a flight attendant. She was a very strong, independent woman and it to this day in her ripe old age of 85. She was a Delta flight attendant years ago when they called them stewardesses, and in doing so she went against her family’s wishes who just wanted her to stay home and be a housewife.

In addition to my Grandmother, I am very grateful to my Mom and Dad, and all my friends who supported me leaving a sales job for a career I knew I had passion for. Despite it being a huge financial risk they never once doubted me and encouraged and supported me.

I truly believe I am fortunate to have been surrounded by such great people (and there are more) who supported encouraged and helped me get to where I am today.

Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

One of my personal goals is to create a travel brand that is a platform that not only helps travelers of all kinds, but also helps small businesses. Now more than ever, small businesses need our help. My platform helps make these unique, appealing places known in the cities where people are traveling. Being able to help build collaborations and bring awareness to these local companies helps travelers gain insider knowledge of things to do, places to see and experiences to have that go beyond what is the usual stock recommendations, while also helping the local businesses and communities thrive.

I always like to find the hidden gems and less-known places and curate a more localized, personalized and exciting experience for travelers.

Another way my platform is helping travelers is by educating and creating awareness of ways and resources they can use to properly plan their own travel itineraries. Here again while there are a multitude of places to get information, knowing which ones are the best and easiest to use in terms of resources available today can make a real difference.

For example is instead of going to Napa Valley or the Sonoma Coast for wine, which are of course great, try Valle De Guadalupe in Baja, California — which is in Mexico believe it or not. This lesser known destination is also an incredible wine region only a one-hour drive from San Diego. It is also a fraction of the price, less populated and yet also has Michelin-star restaurants for amazing food. I am the only person I know on the east coast (I have a lot of friends) who has ever been there. The only friends I know who have traveled there are in San Diego. This is the kind of gem I feel people need to know about, especially younger people who want to discover something different. There are so many places to discover and experience, and this is what my brand platform is all about.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?

It is no secret that a lot of travel recommendations are “pay for play.” In other words, the more they advertise with a magazine, social media or website, the more they get recommended. This is fine and has been a way of doing business for a long time, but it often leaves the hidden gems without the awareness they deserve. My mission to make sure these gems get polished and brought to the forefront for people to know about, experience and enjoy. And there are so many to be aware of!

How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

I think when people who love travel are open to going to new places and doing new things, it disrupts the status quo by providing a more insider “back channel” to places off the beaten path. Of course people will always want to go to the popular places maybe once or twice, but in talking to so many travelers I know they crave to know the hidden places beyond the popular, where the locals go that can broaden their experiences wherever they go.

There are so many beautiful destinations and places that I would love for others to learn about and have access to, and I believe they will once they know they exist.

As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?

  • Flexibility in travel plans, cancellations and rescheduling — with rules and regulations changing so quickly, unfortunately nothing is guaranteed
  • Having a resource of up-to date requirements, rules and laws for the respective destinations
  • Business travel has and will continue to change as companies have realized that they can have video calls to accomplish the same things they used to travel across the country/world for
  • Better travel insurance options — there’s been a huge spike in purchasing travel insurance, pre-covid this was not the case. Now it is often a necessity for most.
  • Increase in road trips, glamping, and cross-country travel, as opposed to out of country travel. Which includes renting cars, SUVs, Sprinter Vans & campers along with lots of travel to national parks
  • Increase in travel on land I.e. high-speed train systems — airlines are actually investing in these high-speed train systems as to not be competitive but to be a partner. If you can’t beat ’em, join ‘em.

Plus less hassle with covid-testing for many of these.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

My perfect vacation experience starts with the pre-planning that goes into a trip. I would go beyond the popular places, look at blogs, comments and reviews — reading what people have to say is the biggest suggestion I have while planning a trip.

I always build an itinerary, so great communication with the hotel or resort where you are staying is key for me. Whether I would like feedback on things to do or local restaurants, locals always know best. Get to know your concierge before you get to your hotel, good turn around time on emails is also a must.

Seamless check-in comes next, along with getting my personal items to my room in a timely fashion if assistance is needed, if I have something to do shortly after arrival, especially for females: We need our things.

And lastly, just an overall ease and hassle-free environment where the staff are both gracious and understanding given the ‘covid climate’ — sometimes we don’t know all the rules and being kind goes a long way today.

Travel is not always about escaping, but about connecting. Have you made efforts to cultivate a more wellness-driven experience? We’d love to hear about it.

Absolutely, first off I have a fitness/wellness app that I use when I travel that shows the local studio gyms as well as spas, salons, etc. This is a huge resource for me to find locally owned, smaller establishments and get to connect with the community — I love yoga so I always like to find local studios. Also, there are many wellness retreats that I have researched and plan on trying, whether it include fasting, spirituality, yoga or all of the above.

Recently, traveling to Ischia and soaking in the sulphuric, healing thermal springs and mud was an amazing experience for me. There’s many claims of the benefits of both the mud and thermal water, some of them being relieving muscle and joint pain, skin issues, increasing circulation, detoxification, etc. Connecting with nature and using the land for healing is an incredible benefit of this.

Can you share with our readers how you have used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I am constantly trying to bring goodness to the world through travel. First off, by making it clear the importance to invest in experiences that can improve your mental health over ‘things’ is a statement I often make.

Also, by encouraging others to pay-it-forward by visiting to the less traveled destinations and trying/doing things locally owned and sourced. Small businesses need our business!

When I travel and connect and network with small and local business owners my goal is always to post with discount codes for different spas, salons, restaurants, stores, shops/boutiques and activities in the destinations I visit. And I only plan on expanding that and bringing more awareness to the importance of this to those who love to travel!

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Obviously I would hope my platform helps create a desire to go beyond the ordinary and popular in travel and to seek out the different and more rewarding experiences to be found locally. A hashtag such as #TravelDeeper with associated

#businessname #discountcode so when flight attendants, travel influencers, and all travel professionals travel they would post the associated hashtag with the business name and a discount code to hype up local businesses and support them through awareness and trial through a discount.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

IG: @whyts_picks

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Author(s)

  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.