5 Minutes With Charlie Leocha

For McCool Travel’s 77th travel profile, I am pleased to present Charlie Leocha. Charlie’s book, Travel Rights, is a classic travel reference book which I first read 20 years ago. When I met Charlie, last year through a mutual friend, I instantly learned more about his passion for untangling the massive dysfunction of government bureaucracy in order to support, rather than hinder, travelers. We have since met in person a few more times. When we discussed the Q&A for this profile, Charlie told me in July he will fly to Spain for his 40th straight year of running with the bulls. His fondest hope is that this year he will be selected the person to shoot off the firework to begin the festival. Anyone know anyone who can fulfill his secret wish?
Charlie’s bio:
“Charlie Leocha is a nationally recognized expert on affordable travel and the publisher of Consumer Traveler. In 2009, he recognized the need for someone to stand up for, and represent, individual travelers in Washington DC. He co-founded Consumer Travel Alliance [ed. with Christopher Elliott], which is now a membership organization called Travelers United. Charlie authored the book Travel Rights, and has appeared on hundreds of radio stations and TV programs representing the consumers’ travel interests. He currently sits on the Department of Transportation’s Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protections.”

Charlie Leocha
Charlie Leocha


Charlie Leocha

I was a military brat and spent time in many places. My longest stint anywhere was Naples, Italy for 12 years.
Always in my luggage…
Toothbrush and paste, although sometimes I forget that. I am a light packer.
3 favorite home-away-from-home places…

  1. Pamplona, Spain
  2. Venice, Italy
  3. New Mexico


Charlie Leocha
Charlie Leocha

A favorite travel memory is…
Cruising down Grand Canal at sunrise before the tourists pour into Venice.
3 favorite travel brands…

  1. Travelpro
  2. Southwest Airlines
  3. AutoEurope

3 money-saving travel tactics I use are…

  1. Use no-fee credit card (or sometimes a $1 per transaction credit union card) to get money internationally. They offer better exchange rates than banks.
  2. Rent a car in Europe when two or more persons. More freedom and less expensive than train travel.
  3. Opaque hotel sites like Priceline, Hotwire, and Priceline Express deals.
  4. Rent cars always through Orbitz.
  5. Low cost airlines in Europe. [ed. Yes, more than 3. I do not mind.]

3 ways that I have fun while traveling are…

  1. Talking with locals
  2. Dine where locals dine (stay away from super expensive places)
  3. Speaking a foreign language changes the way you travel

8 word (or less) travel mantra…
“Go where the locals go.”
favorite non-travel website…
most memorable souvenir…
photos from the Running of the Bulls
favorite cheap eat…
McDonalds across the world. They always have wifi and bathrooms.
recent discovery…
how D.C. politics affect travel
I am fortunate to have met…
At least a thousand and one persons. My old magazine publisher partner Andy Anderson, if I have to select one.
I would like to meet…
If still alive, Nikos Kazantzakis (author of Zorba the Greek). Or the author of Don Quixote. [ed. Miguel de Cervantes]

Charlie Leocha
Charlie Leocha


Thank you very much, Charlie.
Follow Charlie Leocha on Facebook, TwitterConsumer Traveler, and Travelers United.

Check out McCool Travel’s previous profilesMcCool Travel presents tips from travel experts in our 5 Minutes interview series—featuring travel industry giants, super frequent travelers, and adventurous persons. Previous 5 Minutes post: Jeremy Scott Foster.

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