About Me

Steven Frischling
Live: HVN
Contact Me

Steven Frischling, aka: Fish, is globe hopping professional photographer, airline emerging media consultant working with large global airlines and founder of The Travel Strategist. Fish has racked up more than 1,000,000 miles since he started to track his mileage in 2005.

Fish's travel tends to be less than leisurely, including flying from New York to Basrah, Iraq, for six hours; Hong Kong for eight hours, Kuwait City for two hours and traveling around the world in 3.5 days to shoot a series of photo assignments in 4 cities and 4 countries on 3 separate continents.

Fish grew up at the end of New York's JFK International Airport's Runway 4R/22L, which probably explains his enjoyment of watching planes, fly overhead. When not shooting photos or traveling Fish designs camera bags, hones is expertise on airline security and spends his time at home cheering for the Red Sox with his 3 kids 102 yards from the ocean.

Vote For Your Favourite Twitter Traveler in USA Today’s Readers’ Choice Awards

Travel and Twitter go hand-in-hand, and there are so many different types of travel tweeters that it is hard to decide who is the best.   Among some of my personal favourite travel tweeters you’ll find travel journalists, airline bloggers, travel agents, flight attendants, adventure travelers, photographers and a diverse group of others … so … when I was asked to be part of a four person panel of Travel Tweeting Experts by USA Today to help select those who absolutely excel at being a “Favourite Twitter Traveler” for their Readers’ Choice Award it was no easy task.


USA Today’s Expert Panel was comprised of Ben Mutzabaugh, USA Today’s airline reporter,  Nancy Trejos, a travel journalist for USA Today, Rob Katz the CEO of Vail Resorts and Myself, as we whittled a groups of more than 70 fantastic travel experts on Twitter down to 20 for readers to vote on.


So now folks … it is in your hands.  From here, you must make the final selections on who are your Readers’ Choice Favourite Twitter Travelers.   I won’t bias you with my opinions, getting list down to size was a tough enough challenge as I know a number of the nominated people personally, but take a moment and visit USA Today Travel’s Vote For Your Favourite Twitter Traveler page and cast your vote now.


Who will come out on top?  You’ll find out on the 4th of July!


So click HERE and vote now!


Happy Flying!



The #TNI #Travel Chat on Twitter, Join Us Today To Discuss ‘Things That Make You Go D’oh!’

What’s on your schedule for today, May 29th, at 3:30pm EDT (UTC -4)?  Well whatever that is, pencil in The Travelers’ Night In (#TNI) Travel Chat on Twitter.   This week’s #TNI #Travel Chat topic, is sure to make you laugh, remind you of the quirky fun of travel and hopefully get you to share your stories and experiences of life on the road … so … start thinking about ‘Things That Make You Go D’oh!’


The #TNI #Travel Chat, established in 2009, is the longest consistently running travel chat on Twitter, and its format is 10 questions, with a new question asked every 10 minutes for 90 minutes. We have a great community of regulars and encourage people to drop in for a topic they may enjoy, or of course keep coming back every week.


Joining the #TNI #Travel Chat is easy, simply follow the #TNI hashtag in your favourite Twitter application, or follow either @flyingwithfish or @Official_#TNI.   You can also follow #TNI’s fantastic regular co-hosts @petchmo, @trvlinsalesgal or @jeromeshaw.


Have any questions?   Tweet me, I’d be happy to answer them.


Happy Flying and hope to see you at #TNI!



Who Says Airport Security Can’t Make You Laugh?

If you spend enough time dealing with airport security, especially researching it and writing about it, sometimes you just need a laugh. Well, this morning I was sent a cartoon that blended my need to laugh and my need to stay somewhat focused on aviation security.


So … I am passing this laughter on to you with the cartoon below.


Happy Flying!





WestJet Takes Customer Engagement To A New Level with #WestJet

What can one say about Canada’s WestJet?  The airline is expanding. The company’s corporate culture is unique. The brand image is based on being helpful, transparent and lighthearted.  The message is often unexpected, off the cuff and just brilliant.


I have previously written about WestJet’s use of Twitter and WestJet’s brilliant April Fools videos, but the social media folks at the airline are continually pushing social media boundaries, often pushing social into real world. The airline has done amazing things with bringing real wants and needs to reality and just the other day, the company has taken social media feed back and replaced the usual engagement with one of the best customer service engagement response efforts you may ever see.


Usually an airline, or any brand really, will only highlight the good and try to minimize the less than flattering comments. Well WestJet has managed to take The Good, The Bad and The WTF and roll it into one video, addressing it all. They even have their CEO in on it.


If you want to see brand customer service and engagement at its finest take a moment and watch WestJetters read Tweets – Hashtag #WestJet‬


Happy Flying!




Travel Social Media : Sponsors, Clients, Revenue & Reality

If you are reading this blog post you are using a Travel Social Media channel. If you found the blog post via Twitter, then you are familiar with engaging directly in Social Media to seek out Travel content.


Many people dream of traveling the world, many dream of making a living Tweeting and posting to Instagram and in this realm, there are scores of dreamers who want to make a living wandering the world and blogging, Tweeting and Instagraming it.  The idea seems to be that working in social media is easy, that all you do is show up, use Twitter, write a blog post and get paid … if you think this, then let me be the first to burst your bubble.


Yesterday morning I received an email from a college student majoring in journalism and marketing, who follows me on Twitter, has read Flying With Fish and who wants to go into what they call “Travel Social Photography.”  This student, who shall remain nameless wrote to me seeking help to find contacts at companies where the could seek out sponsorship for their up coming travels … the following is what they were seeking …


“My plan is this, to find sponsor airlines, hotels, clothing companies and credit card providers, then spend Winter Break and Spring Break documenting my whirlwind travels, tweeting, IGing and facebooking the whole time. I am certain my adventures can garner me upwards of 80,000 new followers to help blow up these sponsor brands and find me new sponsor brands. What would be a fair rate to ask from each sponsor, in addition to support from them by way of flights, room stays, clothing and credit cards? I am thinking $25,000 each, is that reasonable?”


This is not the first email, or Tweet, or phone call, I have received from someone seeking guidance in finding sponsors. Most people follow the weekly Travelers’ Night In (#TNI) chat on Twitter which has a number of large sponsor brands and seem to think “Hey I can do that also, how hard can that be?”  … but let me address this email, because as much as I hate to bust someone’s bubble, I think people should be encouraged while having their feet firmly planted in reality.


So …


Dear [Student Who’s Name I Am Withholding] ,


Thank you for your email. I always enjoy meeting students who are pursing journalism, and interested in travel, photography and social media.   As you may know, I spent many years as a full-time news and editorial photographer shooting for newspapers, wires, agencies and magazines before transitioning over to working in travel social media.   I arrived at where I am now entirely by accident, and have been involved in this niche market before we ever had Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.


As social media has grown, so too has the number of people who have doe eyed visions of making a living as a travel blogger or travel social content creator.  The competition for precious sponsorships is stiff and competition for direct financial compensation is something you will rarely find … and those dollars are dwindling.


I know a number of excellent full time professional travel bloggers, bloggers with substantial audiences that many people like you dream about, and they do not command anywhere near the financial compensation you are seeking. I reached out to a few of these ‘top tier’ travel social media professionals regarding how to reply to you and am choosing to not include their comments as they were shall we say … less than constructive, with words such as Idiot, Delusional and Chutzpah.


As my intention here is to be constructive rather than crush your vision and dreams I have a few suggestions for you.


1) Work on growing your audience, your voice and your brand. Presently you have a very small audience on Twitter and Instagram. Your Facebook is private. I can’t say there is anything wrong with a private Facebook, my Facebook is private, but you need to figure out your primary social media, focus on that channel, then grow other channels along with it.  Obviously my primary channel is Twitter and how I use it works for me.


2) Visit www.travelogx.com/chat, check out all the travel chats for the week and check out a few. Join in, meet people, network, and grow your audience.


3) Seek out other travel bloggers, travel Tweeters, travel photographers, start conversations with them, learn from them.   Like anything, business is competitive, but you’ll find many people who run successful social-travel-brands are welcoming and friendly, especially to those with their own niche’ that is different than theirs.


4) Do a lot of research on brands you are interested in working with, find out how you can work with them in a realistic manner.   Find out how sponsorships work, find out what companies pay for, and determine if those are things you are interested in, and then if so, work towards those goals.


5) Ensure your followers are real. Finding 80,000 followers is some random arbitrary number, and if you seek to buy followers you are not only doing nothing to build your audience, you will be found out   (it is really easy to figure that out) and then have trouble finding any sponsors to work with you in the future.  Building your audience takes time and consistency is how you’ll get your traffic. If you plan to work with brand sponsors long the way focus on staying on topic and personalizing your engagement experience.


6) Consider how many people in travel social media make their living, finding other avenues to put your skills to work.  Many have a persona that they make their living off their travel blog or their public travel social media efforts, but the reality is that they do not. My blog, which I just picked back up, is how many know me, but it is not my real revenue stream.   The #TNI #Travel Chat, while it generates income for me, is not my significant revenue stream. My income comes from work in the shadows for companies, figuring out their social media needs, and that allows me the freedom to do what I love to do in many ways. Many do not want to admit to working in the shadows for others, it takes away a public perception of who they are, but that is what pays the bills. Are there some who make their living off their travel blogging? Yes, absolutely, but they are the exception, not the rule.


7) Promote others, genuinely, send your traffic to other travel bloggers and tweeters you like on Twitter and Instagram. Send your audience to blogs you enjoy reading and you will begin to get traffic from others sending people back to you.   Social media is about being social, sharing, and putting your audience’s needs first.    Give and ye shall receive. Embrace it; it will make you endearing to those who can later down the road help you out, but sponsors and colleagues.


8) Check your ego and take a reality check.   What you are seeking to do is highly unrealistic and if your ego thinks you can pull that off, you’re in for an ego crush and a painful defeat.



We all find our own path, but hopefully some of this advice helps you fulfill part of your travel dreams.   To quote Rush, The Point Of The Journey Is Not To Arrive.


Happy Flying!



The Weekly #TNI #Travel Chat on Twitter, Join Us Today To Discuss Staying Healthy On The Road

As some of you know I run the weekly #TNI #Travel Chat every Thursday ay 3:30pm EST/12:30pm PST.  Each week #TNI discusses a new topic, covering nearly every travel topic you could think of since it was founded in 2009, and runs for 90 minutes, with 10 questions being asked every 10 minutes.


This week the topic is one that should be important to all travelers, regardless of how often you hit the road or how you hit the road. This week the #TNI #Travel Chat tackles Staying Healthy On The Road.  This topic is something many people have figured out and others continue to struggle with.


Joining the #TNI #Travel Chat is easy, starting at 3:30pm EST/12:30pm PST simply following the hashtag #TNI on Twitter.     You can also follow my Twitterstream, @flyingwithfish or @Official_TNI.   Don’t want to follow me?   No problem, consider following the other regular #TNI #Travel Chat co-hosts, @JeromeShaw, @trvlinsalesgal or @petchmo, they are all worth following regardless of your participation in the #TNI #Travel Chat.


The Travelers’ Night In (#TNI) Travel Chat is the longest continuously running travel chat on Twitter and has been trending week-in-and-week-out for more than two years for its time slot.


Hope to see you there!


Happy Flying!



Waking Up & Being Refreshed For Work … After Sleeping On A Bench

Travel is an uncertainty. The best laid plans can go out the window in an instant and if you travel enough, at some point you’ll probably find yourself waking on a bench somewhere needing to look put together and professional to walk into a meeting … or at the best least to be sanitary and not smelling like you slept on a bench before boarding a flight.


As an in-n-out traveler, who also happens to be really cheap, often choosing to sleep in airports if my time between when I finish what I am doing and my flight is less than 8-to-10 hours away, I have made a considerable effort over the years attempting to not look and smell like I just slept on the floor under a bank of phones in an airport.


So what is the trick for being refreshed after a night of sleeping on a bench due to [insert circumstances here]?  Being prepared for it.   A simple kit that always travels with you can make all the difference.   Now admittedly, not everyone has the same needs, but a small kit that can fit in your backpack or roll-aboard can make all the difference in not job looking refreshed, but actually being refreshed and sanitary.


In my bag I generally keep a well stocked Ziplock that sits in the bottom of my bag, out of the way, with everything else piled on top of it.


In my kit I keep a number of travel sized items, including

- Mouthwash

- Toothpaste

- Toothbrush

- Deodorant

- Hand sanitizer

- Febreeze (Trust me … this is essential)

- Lint roller (If you ever find yourself sleeping on the floor you’ll wish you had one)

- Minty gum

- Prepackaged Wash cloths (sometimes you just need to “shower’ while no shower is available)

- Makeup remover towelette (laugh all you want guys, this stuff gets your face very clean)

- Hand lotion

- (Not Shown Is A Small Collapsable Hair Brush)


We can’t always control weather cancelations, mechanical diversions, being stuck on a train for 13 hours longer than planned with the air conditioning turned off … but we can take some control in how we feel and look when we wake up in the morning and need to get into a client’s office or get on another journey to get where we’re headed.


Below is a photo of the kit I keep in my bag.


Happy Flying!




Reader Mail : “Can You Tell Me Why Armed TSA Agents Are Searching Private Planes?”

What better way to jump back into writing Flying With Fish than pulling out some reader mail … it has been piling up. I have been answering many via email directly, some on Twitter, but jumping back in with Reader mail just seems like the best way to get back rolling.


This Reader Mail comes Patricia Mark, from “around Opa-locka Executive Airport.” Patricia writes “Twice now I have watched TSA screeners approach arriving planes with guns and force people out of them as they search it. Is this legal?” … yadda yadda yadda …” Can You Tell Me Why Armed TSA Agents Are Searching Private Planes?


Patricia’s email comes around the same time I heard something similar from people in Southern California and in Nevada.  So on paper it would seem that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is now searching private aircraft with armed screeners … however … this is not the case what-so-ever.  TSA Transportation Security Officers do not search private aircraft, nor are they armed.   TSA Office of Law Enforcement personnel , who are armed , do not search aircraft.   At times a TSA K-9 unit may assist in a search at the request of local law enforcement or another Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agency.


What Patricia has seen are aircraft that have been met by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Federal Agents. Some of these agents are H.S.I. agents within CBP and ICE.


If an aircraft arrives that CBP or ICE has reason to believe is violating Customs or Immigrations laws, the aircraft will be met and searched. These agencies search under the authority of Title 19 of the United States Code, and have the authority to search for people entering the country illegally, drugs, money laundering, weapons and other things that may warrant a complete search of the aircraft, as well as enforce duties and tariffs. Generally these aircraft have entered the United States from elsewhere or arrived from an unknown point of origin.


As for “armed agents,”  CBP and ICE agents are Federal Agents and as such they are always armed when on duty.


Happy Flying!



… and the break is over.

The sun is shining, the weather is warm, and a U.S. Air Force C-130 is flying low overhead, now seems like a good time to get back to Flying With Fish.


I want to thank everyone who has emailed me, or found me on Twitter to ask if I would be getting back to Flying With Fish.   The truth is, I never planned a break this long. Sometimes life gets in the way of things, sometimes it gets in the way of things you love.      For me, life got in the way and focusing on other things, primarily my kids, had to be my focus. Somethings had to be put aside because there just was not enough time in the day … and I hate ‘just phoning it in’ when it comes to Flying With Fish.


I tried an experiment of covering news on Twitter only, starting with Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 and then some Transportation Security Administration stories. It worked well for me on some level, but I missed writing in a format longer than 140 characters.


So, someone pass the snack basket of Biscoff and let’s get back to the blog.


Happy Flying!



A Musical Interlude … so read about the DC-10 & get on the 707

It has been an insanely hectic two months for me, with no time to cover things I want to sink my time into … so while I reshuffle my time, please take some time to read Airchive’s excellent coverage of the final commercial DC-10 flight here – The Final Passenger DC-10 Lands in Birmingham , and enjoy the AvGeek interlude music below.


Happy Flying!