Vachal lives life at 30,000 feet

Jenna Ho-Sing-Loy, Sports Editor

When she was a junior in college, Shanna Vachal applied for a passport so she could study abroad in Paris. She had only been outside of the country to Mexico and decided to study at the American Business School of Paris because of a desire to explore a new country.

After getting back to California, she finished her last year at college and took a job in Los Angeles working for a graphic communications company.
Although she had majored in business and always thought the corporate route would be for her, Vachal couldn’t shake the feeling that something was still missing after experiencing the exciting environment of traveling abroad in the world.

The time she spent in Paris shaped her life and helped set her on a new course. Not only did she meet her now husband while in Europe, but the experience sparked a need for adventure within her.

“[The experience] just sparked the travel bug in me,” Vachal said. “I just wanted to keep going. I wanted to keep seeing things. So, even when I went back to my corporate job, I would do little weekend trips here and there. Me and my girlfriends would pick a random city in the US and go there for the weekend or just try to do as much as we could. And that’s when I knew that the travel bug was going to be in me forever when I came back and had a reverse culture shock of not having those experiences.”

She worked hard for her corporate job for three years, putting in 12 hours a day, seven days a week, before she found the environment suffocating and unbearable.

“I thought that’s the path that I really wanted to take until I got into corporate America,” Vachal said. “I tried to drink the Kool-Aid, but I was pretty miserable at my job and it truly just brought me no joy. So, I put in my notice. I wanted to do something else. I wanted to get out of LA. So I moved to New York City and just figured it out.”She ended up reconnecting with her now husband while in New York and the two moved to Europe where they lived for seven months and later got engaged.

Vachal’s life changed again after her friend Caitlyn began talking to her about being a flight attendant. Caitlyn and her mom had both been working for airlines and ended up finding satisfaction in their work.

They referred Vachal to a major airline company, she got the job, and has never looked back.
“I love the people I work with,” she said. “It’s just the perfect job for me. Truly it doesn’t get old. I enjoy going to work, I enjoy coming home from work, I love seeing new places, I love experiencing new things.”

Shanna Vachal visits the Colosseum in Rome, Oct. 4. She is able to spend a few days in the cities she visits through working as a flight attendant. Photo courtesy of Shanna Vachal.

Being a flight attendant allows Vachal to have a flexible schedule and travel with her husband and parents for free.

The airline also sets her up with hotels, so she can stay and explore the country for a few days.
The fulfillment that she’s found through her job has helped Vachal improve her relationship with herself, especially when it came to living her life the way she wanted to and not falling into societal expectations.

“[In the past] I was doing things because I thought that’s what society, or my parents or friends and family, wanted,” she said. “I wanted to be perceived in a way by my peers, adults and coaches. And I was never putting myself first or doing what I loved and what brought me happiness. I think I’ve changed in that I am trying to be nicer and kinder to myself and love myself.”

This busy way of living has followed Vachal since she was at Westview. During her high school years she played four varsity sports, worked a part-time job, and did competitive cheer for an all-star team.She now says she would tell her younger self that she didn’t have to do everything.

“I would just tell myself that it’s got to be okay; rest and take care of yourself more,” she said. “You don’t have to push through all the injuries. [Back then] I just thought that missing anything or being sick was a sign of weakness. [Now] I would tell myself to give myself some grace. I was really, really hard on myself in high school just trying to please everybody and trying to be an overachiever and just make sure I was well-liked by everybody. I was doing most things for other people rather than myself.”

Luckily, she said, she’s grown a lot since that period in her life and is now working hard to live life for herself. She’s seeking things that bring satisfaction, which she said that traveling is able to bring her.

Along with traveling for her job as a flight attendant, Vachal also is planning to hike up Mt. Kilimanjaro and even trek to the Mt. Everest base camp, which will provide both the mental and physical challenges that she craves. Although these trips will both be extremely difficult, she said that traveling the world is one of the ways that she is able to recharge and reset. She also said that being able to bring her family along with her to different countries around the world has brought her a lot of joy.

“I think that getting to take my parents to these places and getting to experience that with them is really cool,” she said. “I mean, we’re not getting any younger. So you know these chances and opportunities are really special.”

Vachal said that working for an airline is more of a lifestyle design than a traditional job and has brought her happiness. She is excited about always having more to explore and experience.

“It’s hard to say [which locations] were the most memorable,” she said. “I’ve been to almost 50 countries. I absolutely love Thailand, it’s a magical place for me. I swam in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and that was really cool. I honestly love Europe, and Italy is one of my favorite countries. It is really amazing, [visiting] so many places. And I mean, there’s still so much more to see. Always.”