Aug 1, 2023

Perpetual Passion for Travel

“Each is an adventure where, even just in the planning and execution phase, we can learn a thing or two about what to do or not do in the future. And maybe even where we want to go next!” — Beverly Vaughn

Beverly Vaughn’s conversation about her international travels deep dives into laughter while telling the story about trying to get on a camel in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, with her husband Tom.

“I couldn’t believe they wanted us on one camel – I kept apologizing to the camel,” said Vaughn, recalling the Al Maha resort offering to soak in a sunset from the iconic sand dunes. “We also went dune bashing. I thought, ‘I am gonna die in the desert.’”

No. The thrilling all-terrain vehicle ride through the majestic environment didn’t end her life more than 7,700 miles from her Gulf Breeze home. Instead, the Bedouin experience had the opposite effect of fueling her gusto to globetrot.

Vaughn’s enthusiasm for travel still bubbles over faster than a shaken bottle of Dom Perignon. And she’s been this vivacious for a long time.

“I spent my youth as a military brat, moving constantly,” she said. “From the time I was five years old when we took a Navy carrier from America to Japan via Hawaii, returning to America on my first airline flight aboard Pan Am, I have wanted to see the world.”

And that she has.

“As a young girl in Yokosuka, I experienced my first train ride into Tokyo. I spent the night with the daughter and granddaughter of the admiral who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was a goodwill gesture between countries. I left with my own homemade kimono and a desire to learn about other cultures, countries, and experience the world of real travel,” Vaughn said.

While the wanderlust bug bit her early on and her life has always included travel, Vaughn said she is fortunate that she married a fellow “hodophile” – someone who loves to travel.

“Tom routinely says he wants to ‘Live a Great Story.’ That mantra came from a little sticker we saw on a pole when dancing the night away at Foxy’s Jost Van Dyke while catamaraning the British Virgin Islands with two Pensacola couples.

“Tom and I decided to adopt the ‘Live a Great Story’ line as a reminder of how blessed we are to travel,” Vaughn said. “In doing so, we often remind ourselves that we are ambassadors for our country. We meet people from all walks of life and enjoy spending the time to learn about them, their families, their culture and show them that Americans are gracious, generous people.”

Vaughn said that while there have been many trips with great memories and many lessons learned, it’s not always as glamorous as it may sound.

When she was thirty-two years old, they boarded an older cruise ship. It was their first cruise so they had no other point of reference for the cabin that had a metal wall dividing the twin beds and wall outlets that couldn’t even handle her hair dryer.

“It has never mattered that we had an inside cabin with no port hole or balcony more times than we can count. It was all about the trip, meeting new people aboard the ship and in the ports, seeing the sites and exploring all things new in travel.”

After a thirteen-hour flight to Beijing over two decades ago with their knees almost to their chins, they did realize sometimes you need to upgrade. For that trip, though, it was more than worth it since her husband proposed to her on the Great Wall of China, in Chinese.

“This instilled goals to travel internationally in something other than economy air, in tiny seats with no leg room.”

Since then, Vaughn says their furthest flight to date is more than fifteen hours in First Class on Emirates, Dubai to JFK. 

“Wow! To experience Emirates First Class – you don’t know what you don’t know!”

Vaughn’s Facebook cover page features two more mantras:

I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.

Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer.

“These two sayings are me and travel in a nutshell, and there is not one form of travel I limit myself to or that is right for everyone,” Vaughn said.

“It can be touring out West to see the Grand Canyon, …admiring the Blue Mountains in Australia… or watching the fountains dance from Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world,” she explained.

No matter what kind of trip it is, there is excitement to be had.

“Each is an adventure where, even just in the planning and execution phase, we can learn a thing or two about what to do or not do in the future. And maybe even where we want to go next!” Vaughn said.

Thirteen years ago, Vaughn retired as the installation business manager for Naval Air Station Pensacola, having spent more than thirty-seven years in the federal government. Husband Tom Vaughn is a certified financial planner/wealth management advisor with Northwestern Mutual. While he has been in this field for over forty-three years, he has no plan to retire and fortunately has the ability to travel. 

With about 60 countries under their travel belts, the Vaughns’ international plans include three long cruises – Iceland/Norway on Viking, Singapore to Hong Kong on Celebrity and Japan on Azamara.

Feeling left behind? Well, don’t stay on the sidelines watching others go, Vaughn advised.

“Make your bucket list, prioritize your travel dreams, do your research or hire a professional travel agent, but go,” Vaughn said. “Whether it’s a weekend to the beach or a trip far away, planning for it is half the fun. And you will get there. Maybe it won’t be tomorrow, but you can dream it into being!”

Laughing, Vaughn added: “See you in the TSA PreCheck line. Oh, wait, that’s another story!”

One travel hacker’s insight

Beverly Vaughn is considered by many to be a clever travel hacker. She admits most of her days do not pass without some travel hacking in mind.

For Vaughn, travel hacking involves signing up for travel credit cards and collecting credit card points, hotel points, and/or airline miles you can cash in for free flights, flight/seating upgrades, priority boarding, upscale hotel stays, trip excursions, and much, much more.

“There are many Facebook pages with award travel advice and courses. There are even award booking services if you don’t want to take the time to learn the points and miles game, as well as real-time flight search engines such as”

This is significant for several reasons, Vaughn said.

“It has taught me the world of travel hacking and points accrual, introduced me to airlines and flight options that I was totally unfamiliar with, shown me how to stay in glamorous hotels almost free, and connected me with others who love to travel.”

The art of travel hacking is not something you learn overnight, Vaughn stressed. “I use experts, and I still have much to learn.”

First and foremost, if you can’t pay off your credit cards each month, do not get into travel hacking.


Set goals: “My goals are to get free international travel in business or first class, to try all international airlines and cruise lines.”

Do homework: “This takes a lot of time and is not for everyone.”

Use professional/expert resources: “On Facebook, I joined Travel Hacking Study Hall hosted by Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie of the, 10xTravel Insiders and Travel on Point(s). I also use Award Travel 101,”

Choose the best travel credit cards to help you get the most for your money: Vaughn won’t tell you what card to select but says two popular cards are American Express Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve. You can find loads of information online.

Look at ways to use travel credit cards to build points.: “I put all monthly bills that I know I pay each month on a credit card if I can – everything from utilities to car insurance to groceries, etc.”