You might know George Andreopoulos, v.p of business development for partner brands at World Travel Holdings, but you might not know that his love of travel started around the age of two when his military family traveled to Italy. Or, that he spent summer months as a child with his grandparents in Greece. But George, also helped a friend discover their love for travel when he planned an out-of-state camping trip for the two buddies. We’ll let him tell you more in this installment of Coffee Time with Industry Vets Q&A series.
Where did you go on your first trip and how old were you?
My first travel experience was at a very young age, right around my second birthday, to Naples, Italy, where my father was stationed. I grew up in a military (Navy) family, and whether for work or pleasure, my parents’ love of travel helped to shape my lifelong appreciation and wanderlust for new adventures and experiences.
What is your most vivid travel memory?
Traveling to Greece to spend the summer with my grandparents and extended family. While growing up, my father was stationed in Naples and Gaeta, in Italy. We used to drive down to Brindisi from Naples / Gaeta and take the overnight ferry to Patras, Greece. Road trip + overnight ferry boat ride = three glorious summer months in Greece with the grandparents, what’s not to love?
What was the “Aha” moment that led you into the travel industry?
Although I didn’t quite know it at the time, my “Aha” moment came when I was in college. In speaking to a very good friend, I discovered that during his entire 19+ years of being on the planet, he had never ventured past the borders of the state where he was born! Needless to say, I did what any good friend would do and planned an out-of-state camping trip for us just two weeks later. Sometimes, we all need a little nudge to venture outside our comfort zone, but only by doing so can we truly experience the wonders that await!
Where did you go on your honeymoon?
We went to Couples Resorts in Negril, Jamaica.
What was your favorite trip you took last year and why?
My wife and our 11 year old son took a road trip down to the Florida Keys from our home just outside of Orlando. We took in some parasailing in Key Largo, fed some tarpons and even shared a travel first with my son—jet skiing around Key West.
Where would you like to go that you have yet to visit?
I’m torn between an African safari and a cruise to the Galapagos. Both destinations are tied for #1 on my bucket list.
Do you always buy a souvenir the first time you visit a destination?
Whenever possible, I tend to focus on immersing myself in the destination—the local cuisine and culture. My mementos are usually pictures, but on rare occasions I’ve been known to purchase a piece of local art (as long as it will fit in my suitcase).
You can tell us – do you collect magnets from the destinations you’ve visited?
I used to, when my son was younger. It was a fun way to create a tangible connection for him to the various places I had been to in my travels. I’m pleased to report that I’ve been destination fridge magnet free now for almost five years.
What do you do to pass the time on the plane ride to your destination?
I’ll read up on the destination I’m traveling to, catch up on some reading on my kindle, movies on my iPad and sleep so I can be well rested and ready to go when I land.
Who is your favorite travel companion?
We’re a very close family, so my wife Catherine and my son Elias are definitely my most favorite travel companions.
If there were one hotel room in the world you could call home the rest of your life, which would it be?
I think if I had to pick just one place, it would be a cruise not a hotel. In fact, it would be a suite aboard the Crystal Serenity’s world cruise. This way I can continue to see the world and experience new destinations.
What is the best food you’ve had on a trip? The strangest?
Growing up in the Mediterranean, any fresh caught fish is always at the top of my list. If I had to choose the best, I would say it would be an order of fresh fried smelts like the ones I had at Pez Vela in Barcelona last year. They were as addictive as the best French fries you’ve ever had, and paired wonderfully with a nice cold glass of sangria.
The strangest, anything that includes offal…I don’t believe I’ll ever acquire that taste.
What can’t you travel without?
My Bose noise cancelling headphones, iPhone, iPad and Kindle.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve met while traveling?
I once sat next to a professional rodeo bull rider from Texas. I quickly found myself engrossed in his storytelling about all the various aspects of his sport, training, and trophies (i.e. both actual prizes as well as broken bones, and injuries.)
Tropical beach or Snowy Mountain?
City or countryside?
There is lots to do in a city, but I prefer the relaxation and slower pace generally found in the countryside.