A globe-trotting entrepreneur finds her passion in travel | Business Observer

Executive: Colette Eddy, 71, is president and founder of Tampa-based Aerial Innovations. The company captures the big picture of what’s happening in Florida, using airplanes, helicopters and drones to provide aerial photography and video services to its clients. These images and videos are then used for things like marketing materials or to document the progress of a project’s construction. Eddy doesn’t spend as much time in the air these days as she once did, but the longtime photographer still enjoys meeting lots of different people and watching how the state continues to change. “We see growth in Florida,” she says.

Derivation: Traveling. Eddy has visited 88 countries so far and would like to reach 100. “Travel is an addictive experience that opens your mind,” she says.

Next stopovers: Eddy has a trip to Uruguay and Paraguay planned for April, a trip she was supposed to take in the spring of 2020. She’s been to Uruguay before – “They have beautiful beaches there and it’s extremely modern,” says -her – but it would be her first visit to Paraguay. If she can check that on her list, the only South American countries she has yet to visit would be Venezuela, Suriname, and French Guiana.

Tell the stories: One thing Eddy likes about traveling? The stories. She was locked in a bathroom in Marrakech, met a shaman in Bolivia and had her room ransacked by monkeys in South Africa. “What I love about travel and what makes it very addictive are the people and the stories that come with the adventures and the uncertainty,” she says.

Future destinations: Eddy hopes to attend the Golden Eagle Festival in Mongolia and visit Greenland. A recent 60 Minutes article also introduced him to Fogo Island, off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada and Labrador, a remote location with a long fishing heritage that is now home to a unique new inn. “It put Fogo Island on the map [for me],” she says.

Successful setup: To get the most out of your trip, you need to approach it with the right attitude. “You can’t go into this pretending you know everything,” Eddy said. “You have to go in there with an open mind like a child’s and say, ‘Oh, look at that. It’s a potpourri, in a sense, that you can grab or you can be grumpy about it and experience nothing and come away with a bad trip.

Past Highlights: Places like Bhutan, between India and China in the eastern Himalayas, and Easter Island in the southeast Pacific Ocean, stand out. “I hiked Kilimanjaro, and it was a mental challenge; the mountain will test you to all your limits,” she says. Reading an article about goat racing in Tobago in the New York Times once inspired a somewhat improvised trip to the Caribbean island. “It was amazing,” she says. “The goats were the size of ponies and they had jockeys running alongside the goats. The Prime Minister showed up and everyone got smashed on island rum. It was crazy, but it was goat racing in Tobago!

Essential equipment: “You get very ritualistic because if you’ve done enough, you just know what to put in a bag,” Eddy says. A must-bring for the photographer? A small Lumix camera with a Leica lens. “It accompanies me everywhere,” she says. Other must-haves include running shoes, travel socks, KIND bars, lip balm, a wrap that can be used for warming up and dozing, and a night light (“because you never know how bad a place is going to be dark”). Black clothes are also a versatile option. “You never know what you’re going to spill on you, and black covers almost everything,” she says.

Security issues: Eddy takes precautions to stay safe when she travels, whether it’s letting others know where she is in the world and when she’s due back or checking the credentials of a potential driver she might encounter in a destination. “As a single traveler, you can’t be stupid,” she says. “You have to control the people you don’t know.”

Remember the good times: “I always take pictures, and then usually I like to take something home,” says Eddy. A favorite souvenir: a small alpaca statue she bought on a trip to the Atacama Desert in Chile. “I watch this thing every day now, and it reminds me of the great time we had in the Atacama,” she says.

Close to the house: During the pandemic, Eddy rented beach cottages in spots along the Gulf Coast and explored Florida a bit. It gave him a new appreciation for his home territory. “We have beautiful things here, from our beaches to our parks to our waterways and restaurants,” she says. “Sometimes when you do all these international trips, you tend to forget that we also live in paradise.”

Persistent effects: Eddy says her travels help spark her creativity when she’s back home. She is inspired by the different colors and other elements she observes in the places she visits. “I am a visual person; it’s my gift,” she says. “So just the colors of the markets [in different destinations], it relieves me. I make sure to hit a market in every city I go to.

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