Stories and travel tips from a veteran globetrotter.
Woodbury’s Bill Routt has no shortage of frequent flier miles: He retired from the Air Force several years ago, but hasn’t turned in his wings yet. We asked the experienced flier—and pilot—to share some of his memorable travel notes and tips with us.
Shortly after his retirement from the Air Force, Routt and his wife moved to Woodbury in 2013. Routt is now a pilot for FedEx, which keeps him on the go. “My travel continues,” Routt says. “As a Boeing 777 pilot, I frequent locations like Paris, Cologne, Cambridge, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Osaka, Dubai, New Delhi, Seoul and a few more.” Whew!
Routt grew up in Buffalo, New York, and the military is in his family’s history. “My father was in the Air National Guard at Niagara Falls,” he says. “I met my wife in Buffalo shortly after I returned home after graduating from Miami University in Ohio.” Routt was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force and went to training in Texas. “For the next 25 years of my life, I traveled,” he says. During his time in the Air Force, he and his family (including two daughters) moved eleven times. They were stationed abroad in Germany and Japan, and—he adds—“abroad” in Alaska. “I also spent two tours in Saudi Arabia, flying in Desert Storm and Operation Southern Watch.” Routt flew the F-15 Eagle and F-22 Raptor.
In a sentiment that might seem ironic—but is widely held among frequent travelers—Routt says his favorite destination is the least exotic: “That’s easy. Home. Woodbury.” He and his wife have also coaxed their adult daughters to live close by. If he has to choose a favorite global destination, though, Routt says he loves old European cities like Cologne and Paris. “I love the culture and old historical cathedrals,” he says. “Their history and beautiful older buildings—plus fantastic cafes—are my favorite… As a history buff, I love learning about western Europe.”
If you’re contemplating a trip yourself, and maybe a first-time visit to Europe, Routt says you should take the plunge. He notes that some aspects of travel that might seem scary are pretty manageable in the modern age. “Surprisingly, the English language is well-understood [in most places] in Europe,” he says. “And you’d be surprised to see how accommodating most Europeans are to Americans.” How about some of Routt’s best travel tips? He says, whenever possible, avoid traveling with pets (as fun as it might seem). “I’ve got a few stories on that topic,” he says. To avoid weird charges or holds, make sure your credit card company knows you’ll be traveling. For packing tips, get yourself to YouTube and search for videos where flight attendants and airline pilots show off their skills; there are lots of great videos, and it’s helpful to watch someone pack in real time. “I like the rolling technique,” says Routt, where each item of clothing is rolled into a tight log to save space.
When you get to your destination, let the vacation vibes kick in—“Be prepared to be flexible,” Routt says. And his favorite way to explore a new place? Lace up your sneakers. “Walking tours in the major cities are awesome and inexpensive.”