Fast Talk: Wolf Blitzer
Currently the host of The Situation Room on CNN, veteran journalist Wolf Blitzer has been reporting on international leaders and events in some of the world’s most politically charged regions since the early seventies. Travel + Leisure caught up with himafter his return from the Middle East, where he was covering the second anniversary of the war, to talk about life in the hot zone, how he decompresses, and the on-flight perks of Air Force One.
Where has work taken you recently? To Fallujah, Baghdad, and Mosel in Iraq—but I traveled most often as a White House correspondent during the Clinton administration. I was always on the road, whether in Bosnia or all over Africa. The press pool used to joke that the years covering Clinton were like dog years.
How do you prepare to go to dangerous areas? It’s my job as a journalist to be on the front lines. CNN has a training program that teaches survivor skills we might need, such as how to negotiate in a hostage situation. Usually, while I’m on assignment, I don’t worry so much about security—my adrenaline is pumping and I’m excited. Of course, on the flight home I always ask myself what the hell I was thinking.
Any harrowing experiences in the field? A few years ago I went to interview Yasser Arafat in Ramallah—he preferred talking to people late at night. It was after 3 a.m. when our vehicle was stopped at a checkpoint on the way back to Jerusalem. In a hermetically sealed armored car, you can’t roll down the windows or hear anything that’s going on outside. We eventually realized that the Israeli soldiers were ordering us out of the car. They thought we had a bomb—in another 30 seconds, we would have been in trouble.
What do you do to unwind? Believe it or not, I love spas and try to get facials on a regular basis. I’m also a deep-tissue massage kind of guy. The Boca Raton Resort & Club’s Spa Palazzo has a great service called the De-stress Muscle Release, but the best spa I’ve been to is at the Ritz-Carlton, Doha, in Qatar. Here in Washington, I’m a regular at the Four Seasons spa in Georgetown.
Do you have a favorite airline? Internationally, I always fly British Airways, but really, I love Air Force One. There is an area in the back for the press with first-class seats and good movies. On a long flight, the president might invite you up front to spend time with him or his chief of staff. When I fly on Air Force One, I realize how lucky I am—I have a front-row seat to history.
What tips would you give business travelers?Try to avoid checking bags. That will save you time and also relieve you of security worries. I can never understand why at many airports, including the ones in Washington D.C., you don’t have to show your claim check to get your suitcase. Anybody could just take your bag–I've heard all sorts of horror stories over the years. If I have to check a pierce of luggage, I make sure it's not an expensive one and I try to distinguish it from every other black bag out there, usually with a big name tag. I also put my name and address inside it, in case someone takes it by mistake.
What do you always bring with you? I always take my beard trimmer, so that my beard is well maintained. I’m attached to my cell phone, which is programmed for international use. I take my blackberry and my laptop so I can log in and see what’s going on. I put all my clothes in these special envelopes, to keep things separate and relatively neat. Over the years, they have really helped me make sure that when I get to Paris my shirts will look crisp and nice instead of wrinkled and disgusting.
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