5 Minutes With Randy Petersen

For McCool Travel’s 102nd travel interview, I am honored and thrilled to present Randy Petersen. I constantly think about who I would put into my Hall of Fame or Mount Rushmore of influential travel people in my lifetime. Randy Petersen would definitely make both. How about yours?

Randy Petersen’s bio:

“Here’s life in a Twitter world: Randy Petersen is likely the world’s first frequent flyer entrepreneur having started InsideFlyer magazine in 1986, FlyerTalk in 1995, BoardingArea in 2008, and a new global footprint for frequent flyers in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, the UK, and Germany—all in local languages. Called “… the most influential frequent flyer in America” by The Wall Street Journal, he most enjoys speaking on topics of social networking, loyalty marketing, entrepreneurship, charity and, oh yes, frequent flyer programs, all with his fellow travelers.”

travel interview with Randy Petersen by Charles McCool of McCool Travel
Randy Petersen

Randy Petersen


Sioux City, Iowa (semi-farm boy)

Always in my luggage…

ipad mini. I’m a voracious reader and need to have hundreds of books to read no matter where and when I travel. Of course I recognized this as a trick question … which noble traveler would confess to having “luggage”? I may have a carryon or backpack, but ‘luggage’? Surely you jest. [Ed. Note. Randy got me good. Carryon only for me also. It is one of my habits of happy travelers.  I might have to update this question.]

3 favorite home-away-from-home places…

  1. Santa Fe (always at Christmas to soak at Ojo Caliente, do the farolito walk down Canyon Road and eat, eat, eat.)
  2. Zermatt, Switzerland (no cars allowed, beautiful vistas, and the charm of the Alps, peace at last)
  3. Rancho Pescadero, Todos Santos, Mexico (private, good tequila, and miles of walking on deserted beaches, #heal-thyself)

A favorite travel memory is…

When I met my lovely bride she decided to retire as a health marketing executive and travel with me, so I took her along on every trip for a solid year. It was a typical 300-400 hundred thousand butt-in-seat miles year and it was my favorite because finally I was able to share all the wonderful travel experiences I had enjoyed over the years, with almost all the trips being repeats for me. Travel experiences and travel sharing are two completely different universes. #bestmemoryever

3 favorite travel brands…

  1. Uber
  2. Tumi
  3. Hyatt Place (something about these particular hotels works for me over and over)

3 money-saving travel tactics I use are…

none, never, nada. Because of what I do (and level of visibility), I decided a long, long time ago to never adopt travel hacker tactics with fear (and loathing) of being busted and my picture appearing on some website as being outed for never quite being clever enough. So I ‘pay the man.’

travel interview with Randy Petersen
Randy Petersen with the real-life “Ryan Bingham”

3 ways that I have fun while traveling are …

  1. I love pretending I don’t know much about the miles + points thing and let fellow travelers “educate” me. It’s really a lot of fun as they pass along their own passions and knowledge to the “rook.”
  2. I’m a couple thousand consecutive into my streak to always shout into the airplane cockpit when deplaning, “Thanks for the ride“. Sort of like a major league baseball hitting streak!
  3. There is adrenalin and fun in constant testing of my skills as a ‘Master of the Universe’ when it comes to the travel games of a) fastest through TSA; b) least amount of time in an airport prior to departure; c) Plan B of any flight cancelation; d) the upgrade waitlist; e) the scrum at early boarding; f) ‘best room available’; etc. P.S. it also calls for being humble when crushed by the Gods of travel when things don’t go as planned.

8 word (or less) travel mantra…


favorite non-travel website …

Flipboard (and app). As much as I love books to read, I love the concept of building my own digital magazine to read: TechCrunch, Bon Appetit, Fast Company, Mashable, VentureBeat, The New York Times … it’s all here and more.

most memorable souvenir …

picture of me with a few dozen Communist Red Guard soldiers in the Hidden City of Beijing circa 1980s

favorite cheap eat …

I’m all over Wagamama in any city I visit. It is cheap and great for single diners.

recent discovery …

that coach class with the airlines hasn’t changed much from 1986 to 2016

I am fortunate to have met …

every CEO of a major (and minor) airline for the past 30 years

I would like to meet …

Donald Trump and ask him what the hell happened with the Trump Shuttle (he briefly owned the airline in the late 80s to mid-90s).

Thank you so much, Randy, for taking a few minutes to share your travel inspiration and tips.
Follow Randy Petersen on FacebookTwitter, and his Website.

McCool 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: Henrik Jeppesen.

Sharing is caring!

8 thoughts on “5 Minutes With Randy Petersen”

  1. Very interesting man, Randy Petersen. And I agree with him that travels you can share are something else from travel experiences. I hope he’ll will have some more of these.

Comments are closed.