Super-Frequent Flier: Wild Travel Stories from Nancy Payne

A former director of special services at the UT System—where her duties included planning the parties—Nancy Payne, BS ’58, Life Member, has had lots of fun outside of work, too. Since retiring, she’s been president of the Assistance League, but she still makes time for travel. The Texas Exes frequent flier shares everything from her destination recommendations to her packing tips to the reasons she keeps choosing the Flying Longhorns.

Flying Longhorns Trips Taken 32 (18 with late husband Joe, and 14 with friends).

Favorite Destinations Egypt, China, Patagonia.

Travel Bug’s First Bite In 1961, I took the Queen Elizabeth I to Europe for two months. A girlfriend and I were going to go together, but she backed out. My parents drove me to New York to catch the ship; I remember seeing my dad wave his Stetson, miserable to see me go. By the time I landed in Southampton, I had all these British friends. When my mother got my letter, she knew I would be okay. That was the start of my adventurous independence.

Why Flying Longhorns Win I’ve always felt they were such a congenial group with a central interest. The happiest thing is to travel with people when there’s a good chance you’ll travel together again. And there’s always someone there to help you. That makes such a huge difference, especially to me now since I don’t have a partner.

Wildest Ride We took a snowmobile trip out of Jackson Hole, through Yellowstone. It turned out to be rough as a cob because it hadn’t snowed enough. We got beat to a pulp. Joe was saying, “Even my hair hurts!” But we saw buffalo and foxes. I loved it so much I’ve been back twice.

Craziest Coincidence On a cruise to Greece, I had a tour guide on the ship whom I’d had in 1972. Her name was Mia Perivolas—I recognized her right away. She had a master’s from Wellesley.

Biggest Bash The most outrageous party was probably the costume party in Egypt. Joe was the king, and there were queens and dancing girls. I was “Queen Ever Ready.” Joe had big lips painted around his navel, his eyes done up with the Grecian stuff, and something like a loincloth.

Close Encounters An ostrich stuck his head in our car once. And going out in the zodiac boats in Patagonia—we docked at the Cape of Good Hope—was fun. We saw elephant seals up close.

Stunning Sights We hit Japan at absolutely the peak of cherry blossom season. But the most beautiful was probably the fields of tulips in Holland. I’m going back in April.

Packing Tips I print out the itinerary of what we’re doing and figure out the average temp in each place at that time. I pack by outfit from the bottom up, so I can live out of my suitcase without ever disturbing anything. If you stretch your slacks all the way across so you can grab both ends, you can lift everything off and set it on the bed, grab what you need, and then set everything neatly back in the suitcase.

Flying Must I always have an eye mask in case people around me are reading. My daughter sent me a red velvet one that says, “Off Duty.”

Travel Milestones I celebrated my 75th birthday on a trip. We were at the Navedano Restaurant on Lake Como, surrounded by hydrangea and silver bows. They surprised me with a rocket candle.

Photos courtesy Nancy Payne.


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