Carried Away: World Traveler Franci Neely Shares Her Most Memorable Plane Ride

Talk about a frequent flyer. From Cameroon to Antarctica to Saudi Arabia to Norway, jet-setter Franci Neely has flown the friendly skies all over the globe. But one of her most memorable moments in the wild blue yonder was during a trip to Bermuda that never actually happened. At the time, the now-retired attorney was traveling with fellow legal eagle Karl Stern on her ex-husband’s private plane.

Neely had a client making a deposition on a tropical island that sits in the Atlantic Ocean about 640 miles off the coast of North Carolina. She shares that her husband at the time made all of the arrangements and told her they were taken care of. 

“I said, ‘Karl, come with me. We’re going to get our client ready for his deposition and be there while he’s deposed,’” Franci Neely recalls. “‘We’ll go to Bermuda on the airplane.’”

While en route, Neely says she asked the pilots what latitude Bermuda is on. 

“They said, ‘Well, it’s parallel to North Carolina,’” she adds. “And I said, ‘OK.’” Neely says she and her colleague landed at 7 p.m. and planned to go to dinner. After clearing customs and hopping in a cab, Neely notes, that’s when the confusion kicked in. To her driver’s bemusement, she asked to be taken to a hotel on Ocean Avenue. “The cab driver said, ‘You are in the right country, aren’t you?’” she explains. “And I said, ‘Well, this is Bermuda?’”

Imagine the shock when the driver replied, “Ma’am, you are in The Bahamas.”

Altitude Adjustment

Neely says she was about 700 to 800 miles south of her intended destination, so she had to fly back to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, because they needed clearance to fly to Bermuda. Instead of arriving at 7 in the evening, they arrived in the wee hours of the morning.

“I missed the whole thing,” Neely admits. 

But the story doesn’t end there. A distinguished British gent overheard her conversation and was astounded.

“He said, ‘Ma’am, if I heard you correctly, your husband sent the plane to the wrong country?” And I replied, ‘Yes, it was Bermuda, not The Bahamas,’” Neely shares. 

The tall, elegant Brit offered a typically dry English recommendation. 

“My advice,” he told Neely, “is to keep the plane, ditch the husband.” 

Neely says she was grateful to have Stern along for this one-of-a-kind adventurous ride that she’s able to smile about today.

Karl is my witness to all of that,” she says.

Journeying by air, sea, and land, nothing deters Franci Neely from living out her dream of visiting every country in the world. She’s on track to meet that ambitious goal by 2025. It’s something only about 250 other people have been able to accomplish. But Franci Neely is far from alone in her mission to keep traveling. Roughly 85% of Americans planned to travel more this summer, and fusing business travel with leisure plans is another trend experiencing an uptick. More Americans are traveling internationally, according to Despite surging hotel and airfare rates, Europe has remained a red-hot travel spot for Americans and it was projected to surge 55% this summer, according to Allianz.

Franci Neely has long been ahead of the travel frenzy, especially when it comes to venturing outside her comfort zone. She’s traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, where the United Arab Emirates was ranked the second-fastest-growing international travel destination in 2022 after Austria. With 22.7 million visitors, the UAE outranked Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Morocco.

While ending up in The Bahamas when she was supposed to be in Bermuda was an unforgettable moment in Neely’s itinerary, she says even the most stressful travel experience doesn’t keep her down for long.

Franci Neely Looks Back on Turmoil in Turkmenistan

The Houston globe-trotter says she went through some trying instances during her attempted departure from Turkmenistan. While she shares she had a wondrous time touring the ancient land filled with archaeological triumphs and colorful canyons, the travel pro adds that she ran into an issue when she was stopped by an immigration officer because her visa had expired the previous day due to an error at the visa office in the U.S. Franci Neely says she was presented with two options: pay $440 or be banned from Turkmenistan for life. 

She chose the ban and was escorted to a chairless room where she would have to await her fate. Eventually, she says officials did return with her passport and the promise of a three-year ban from visiting the Central Asian country. Neely took that with a grain of salt — she says it’s one country she had no plans to revisit.

She notes that it’s important to understand that while traveling, infuriating incidents are bound to happen, even while exploring the United States, so it’s vital to keep a calm perspective and learn how to go with the flow. Neely encourages everyone to “go travel the world,” because she views learning other languages and submerging oneself in a variety of cultures as the ultimate learning experience. 

With just a few countries left to accomplish her goal, Neely says her upcoming plans include Burundi, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Ethiopia, as well as an Australian getaway.

The nature lover is looking forward to seeing the Great Barrier Reef — the world’s largest coral reef system — and Fraser Island, home to 100 freshwater lakes. It will offer the Texan another opportunity to connect with Australia’s natural wonders. “I’m going to cruise the western coast of Australia,” Neely shares.

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