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Southlake Style

Southlake Resident Named a Winner in Road Warrior Contest

Mar 11, 2016 07:46AM ● By Audrey Sellers

Emily Williams Knight and husband, Alec

If you ever want to meet a real-life jetsetter, just talk to Southlake resident Emily Williams Knight. When she says she travels a lot, she means it. In fact, she’s a bona fide road warrior. American Way, the inflight magazine published by American Airlines, deemed her as one in its 14th Annual Road Warrior contest. Williams Knight, along with this year’s four other winners, vacationed in Belize as the grand prize. Here’s what she has to say about the win, life on the road, and the ups and downs that go along with frequent travel.

Southlake Style: First of all, congratulations on winning the Road Warrior Contest! How does it feel to win the official title of Road Warrior?

Williams Knight: Honestly, I’m still a bit surprised about all of it. When the editor of American Way called with the marketing team to share the good news, I had just come off a flight from Europe and hung up the phone. Thankfully they called again, and I felt truly blessed to have been selected.

SS: What did it take to enter the contest? What was the application process like?

Williams Knight: I have been flying American for years and always read about the Road Warriors but never considered myself one of them. It was last fall when I was returning from yet another international trip that I read about the contest and thought this time, I must apply. The criteria changes each year, but for my class, we had to write an essay on why we should be the next Road Warrior, had to write a poem, and of course, had to have traveled a lot of miles on American. My essay was about my role in global higher education and the incredible pride I feel in working with students from around the world. I also wrote about being a female executive and how my twin girls and I have made a pact that I don’t travel more than seven days at a time away from home. American out of Dallas makes this possible—although the wear and tear on Mom can be significant!

SS: Part of your prize was a trip to Belize. Share with us about that experience.

Williams Knight: This entire experience was life changing for me. I am pretty busy between my twins, my career and finishing my doctorate in higher education, and to have time away to try new things and to relax was the greatest gift of all. I swam with sharks, zip lined through the rain forest, flew in the front seat of a plane with the pilot, and took a canoe into a Mayan cave. I would never have done that on my own. The zip lining was terrifying, and before I stepped off the platform the first time, I had tears running down my face—pure fear. By the second line, I wanted to go first—to experience the freedom of sailing through the jungle at 50 miles per hour. It was just incredible. Finally, the other four winners have become friends for life. Five people who likely never would have met before are now connected forever and committed to staying friends. Just last week when the magazine launched, all five and many of their spouses and significant others made the trip to Dallas so we could celebrate together. I have no doubt this was God’s plan, and I feel so grateful and blessed to have had this experience and to interact with such incredible people from across the United States.

SS: Give us an idea of just how much you’ve traveled. 

Williams Knight: Wow—I think if I stop and count I will get tired. I have traveled the world for my career, visiting countries across Europe, Asia, South America, and of course spent a lot of time flying around the United States. So far this year, I’ve flown six times to Europe, several U.S. destinations and of course to Belize. My typical flight is 10 hours, and I pray for a tailwind to help us along the way.  If I add them up, I’ve likely visited 25 countries with my current office in Switzerland where I commute each month.

SS: So you travel mostly for business?

Williams Knight: My role in global higher education keeps me traveling abroad, and when I am home, I often like to do just that—stay home.

SS: Who are your most frequent travel companions?

Williams Knight: I typically travel alone out of DFW. However, I have been fortunate to meet some interesting and special people along the way. My favorite companions are my husband, Alec, and my twin 10-year-old girls, Elizabeth and Olivia. They are incredibly supportive and in February, I took them on one of my trips to Switzerland. They loved it but certainly got a dose of what mom’s life is like on the return flight. Keeping 10-year-old girls entertained for 10 hours was a challenge to say the least!

SS: What do you enjoy most about jet-setting all over the world?

Williams Knight: This one is easy—the people. I have learned one thing and it is one of the most important lessons in life: no matter where you go, we are all the same. I take the time on each trip to get to know the people—their customs, their values, and in the end, they may eat different food, have different political views, enjoy different forms of entertainment and live differently than us, but they have goals and dreams. They are no different from us. There has not been a trip that I have taken that I did not leave feeling so incredibly grateful for this opportunity to see the world. It is exhausting, but when the plane door closes each time, I make the most of the experience and always look for how I can positively impact everyone I meet.

SS: What’s your least favorite part of traveling? The jet lag? The airport layovers?

Williams Knight: That feeling when you leave DFW and fly overnight, land at your destination, and when they open the door, the sun hits your face and your body responds with great fatigue. That feeling is the very worst for me. I often tell my girls the worst part is that first overnight flight when you land and then work all day and your body is telling you to go back to sleep. That and working to stay awake with the time change to be sure I can talk to my girls when they come home from school. There have been nights that I pace around my hotel room to stay awake just so I can hear about their school day and listen to their voice before heading to bed.

SS: What has been one of your favorite memories from your travels?

Williams Knight: I have so many happy memories. One of my favorites was the first time I traveled to Istanbul, Turkey. I checked into my room and while unpacking heard this incredible sound outside my room. I opened the door and realized two things: I was hearing the call to prayer from the chanters across the city and my room was sitting right where Asia and Europe come together. The sun was setting, the call to prayer a hum in the distance, and I remember feeling a sense of peace and gratefulness that has stuck with me for several years.

SS: Where will your travels take you next?

Williams Knight: Thankfully, we are traveling to Mexico for Spring Break for some much needed R&R. The day I return, I fly back to Geneva to meet with my team. Later this spring I will cover China and then Southeast Asia.