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Talking Travel In Texas And Beyond: Tony Felker

Felker is the president and CEO of the Frisco Chamber of Commerce
Tony Felker Hi Res (1)
Photo: Tony Felker

Whether it’s by car or plane, there’s a sense of adventure for what is ahead — from the food we will eat to the places we will see. Going places is magical. At least, the idea of it.

But the reality? Travel plans always seem to spiral into some sort of stressful situation. Packing, planning, booking and everything else can be overwhelming. We want travel to be fun. So do you. Local Profile reached out to eight people in the Collin County community to get their take and advice on everything travel related. 

Tony Felker is the president and CEO of the Frisco Chamber of Commerce and dedicates his time to the Frisco community. He sits on the board of regents for the West Institute of Organization Management (IOM), the boards for the Texas Chamber of Commerce Executives (TCCE) and the North Texas Chamber of Commerce Executives Association (NTCCEA). 

Where is your favorite road trip destination in Texas? 
In all honesty, one of my favorite places to go is only 30 miles from home! Every now and then, I just need to get away and recharge, and one of my favorite places is Lake Ray Hubbard and just hang out next to the lake. While only 30 minutes away, it feels much further than that and gives me what I need to recharge.

What do you consider “essential” when packing?   
I know the point of getting away is to do just that … but phones have become critical these days in planning and sometimes in getting to where you want to go … and then leave them alone! But so many useful tools on the phone from maps, weather and, of course, my UnTappd craft beer app to find local breweries and craft beer options.  

What is your favorite transportation method?   
I really think my favorite way is by car. You really get to see where you are and get a feel for the local people, restaurants, craft breweries (see a trend here?) and so much more.  However, there are also times when traveling by air is more time-efficient and it really gives you a chance to realize how big this country is and how the terrain can change significantly in just a few hundred miles.

 How can you save money while traveling?   
I am not a big proponent of using credit cards; however, when used properly, the miles/points can add up and save you on future trips/hotel stays. Also, booking ahead and looking for deals — I have also found that Expedia can be very handy at times.

What do you look for when booking a vacation? 
Somewhere new and different — there is so much to see and do in this country. I hope that someday I get to travel outside of the US, but there is still so much I want to see right here in the U.S. 

What travel hack or tip do you follow? 
While the concept of just “winging a trip” can be a lot of fun, I have found that planning out some basic items such as hotels, key destinations, etc. is a good idea. Then, once the basics are taken care of … then wing it and just go with the flow. Someone told me a long time ago “Wherever you are, it is exactly where you are supposed to be,” and I try to live my life and my trips accordingly.

What is your favorite road trip snack? 
Don’t think I really have any one favorite. I try not to hit the chain restaurants when traveling — it's so much better to hit local places and meet the local people, but I do tend to gravitate towards barbeque and the local craft breweries, of course!

What is your most memorable trip in Texas? Outside Texas? 
There are so many good trips I have been on it is hard to narrow down to just one or two. China was amazing, but I really don’t want to go back anytime soon. Sounds funny, but some of the best trips were to places where you would not think it would be: like Arkansas, Kansas, North and South Dakota. By the way, Rapid City, South Dakota is great for a nice four or five-day trip. So many great things to see and do all within two hours of Rapid City. And then there was the high point in Oklahoma with a great story, and then there was … yes, so many good trips and more ahead!

How do you pass the time on road trips? On the plane? 
As mentioned, I love road trips and the chance to see the local countryside, visit with local people and just listen to local radio stations. Between all of that — and just turning the mind off and letting it reset — it is easy to pass hours going from one location to another. In the air, Frisco is no more than four hours at the most from anywhere in the U.S., so just shutting the mind down, watching the countryside below, and just letting everything go for a few hours is pretty easy.

Are there any hidden gems you’ve come across on a Texas road trip?   
While I have not yet been there, from all that I have heard from those that have, the Big Bend area is likely to be just that. I am going to throw in Guadalupe Peak, two hours east of El Paso, and the high point of Texas as part of such a trip. Can’t wait to do that trip — hopefully in 2023!

How do you decide where to go?  
I try to find places that I have never been to and that will help me complete my “grand slam” of places to visit. With my now having been to 46 of the 50 states (and those last four are in my sights!), I have a new goal: play golf in all 50 states, hit a brewery in all 50 states and hit as many of the high points in all 50 states as possible. So the next place?  Easy — someplace that is new and helps me cross off one, two or seven new venues off of my grand slam chart.

Do you have any favorite camping or hiking destinations in Texas?  
As mentioned, Big Bend and Guadalupe Peak east of El Paso are on my list for this year, and I think they will be one of my favorite spots. Beyond that, the Taychas Trail right here in Frisco is a nice little hike and a great place to lose yourself while still being in Frisco.

What time of year do you prefer to go on vacation? 
The better question might be what times of the year are my least favorite to go on vacation, and the answer would be the winter months. With some of my preferred travel destinations including golf courses and the high points of the 50 states, that becomes very difficult in the winter months. I sometimes venture out beyond the U.S. and try Cabo, Cozumel or Jamaica and warm up on a nice February winter day.

Do you have any upcoming travel plans?  
Just for rest and recuperation, I try to get away for some sort of trip once a month if possible.  That might only be to an area lake for a night or two, or it might be for five days in Asheville, seven days in New England, high points in Texas, Utah, Florida and New Mexico, or golf in New Mexico, or a series of craft breweries in Colorado. And yes, all of these are in consideration for 2023. Time to get to work planning these all out!

Photo: Tony Felker

To find out more about travel in and out of Texas visit Local Profile’s latest issue.