Coffee Time with Industry Vets: John Stachnik

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John and his wife, Mary, at Windsor Castle. (Photo courtesy of Mayflower Tours.)
John and his wife, Mary, at Windsor Castle. (Photo courtesy of Mayflower Tours.)

Think you know John Stachnik, think again….

There’s more to John Stachnik, president and co-owner of Mayflower Tours, than meets the eye, so we decided to ask him those comical, personal and telling questions to reveal the man behind the suit.

John decided to take the leap and open a tour operator company while witnessing the Martin Luther King riots when he was working for a hotel company. That moment changed his travel career forever as he became his own boss. As for his personal travel plans? His next trip is a coin toss between New Zealand and Antarctica, but whichever he chooses, we’re sure a book from his travels will be added to his collection. We’ll let him explain in this installment of our Coffee Time with Industry Vets series.

Where did you go on your first trip and how old were you? 

Our family did car trips from the time I was 6 years old. Don’t remember the first trip, but one of the earlier trips was to northern Michigan using only side roads and logging company routes.

What is your most vivid travel memory? 

Visiting a priest friend of ours in Staten Island and staying in the home of one of his rich parishioners—who had the most powerful telescope I have ever used—and looking through it at the skyline of New York City.

What was the “Aha” moment that led you into the travel industry? 

I worked for a hotel company in Washington, DC. I stood on the rooftop of our hotel and watched the city burn during the Martin Luther King Jr. riots [1968 Washington D.C. Riots]. It was Cherry Blossom Festival week and my group clients started calling us. They said the state police were not allowing anyone into the city and turned them away. Our tour operator clients called up, said ‘oh, well’ and headed for Williamsburg and other touristic spots. I was always thinking of being in business for myself and I said, ‘What the heck, I’m going to see if being a tour operator is the spot for me.’ And it was.

Where did you go on your honeymoon? 

Mary and I were married in Minneapolis, and honeymooned in Stillwater, Minnesota. We traveled back to the Twin Cities to attend the State Fair, and again to take in a movie.

Traveling through Croatia with his wife, Mary. (Photo courtesy of Mayflower Tours.)
Traveling through Croatia with his wife, Mary. (Photo courtesy of Mayflower Tours.)

What was your favorite trip you took last year and why? 

We take a favorite trip every year. In 2015, we spent a month at a castle (invited family and friends) in Tuscany, Italy. Earlier this year we became big fans of Croatia, and will be expanding our offerings to that destination.

Where would you like to go that you have yet to visit? 

Mary wants to complete the visitation of every continent with a trip to Antarctica. I would like to stay a tad warmer and visit New Zealand.

Do you always buy a souvenir the first time you visit a destination?

I buy book(s) everywhere we go. My shelves are close to collapsing with the number of travel and destination books I have.

John and his wife touring the Grand Tetons. (Photo courtesy of Mayflower Tours.)
John and his wife touring the Grand Tetons. (Photo courtesy of Mayflower Tours.)

You can tell us–do you collect magnets from the destinations you’ve visited?

I don’t collect magnets…I collect memories.

What do you do to pass the time on the plane ride to your destination?

Read the magazines I didn’t have time for at home or on the road.

Who is your favorite travel companion? 

My beautiful wife Mary, of course. I was going to kid around and say our favorite dog, Nellie, but that might not have played well at home.

If there were one hotel room in the world you could call home the rest of your life, which would it be?

Tough, tough question—my list would be long. I will go with the Don Cesar in St. Petersburg, Florida.

What is the best food you’ve had on a trip? The strangest?

A bad meal in Italy is better than a good Italian meal in America. The head of a duck on the platter in Hong Kong was a most strange sight.

What can’t you travel without?

MapQuest.

Who is the most interesting person you’ve met while traveling?

Yitzhak Rabin when he was Prime Minister of Israel. Had a great meeting on the impact of tourism worldwide in general, and Israel in particular.

Tropical beach or Snowy Mountain?

No contest…tropical beach.

City or countryside?

The answer is ‘Yes.’ I don’t believe in ‘either-or’…I believe in ‘either-and’.

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