Tales from the Road: How to Handle a Celebrity Run-in

As summer vacations wind down, we’re going to feature travelers’ tales from the road. If you’d like to share your own, send us an email.

Nan, a self-proclaimed “big TripIt fan,” tells us about packing as much fun as possible into a whirlwind weekend in NYC, and what happened when he encountered a famous face in the process.

His tale inspired us to share some of the TripIt team’s own celebrity sightings while traveling, as well as tips on what to do if you spot a star in the wild (and no, he isn’t the star of Chuck).

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Nan: “While in NYC for a weekend, I woke up for a run in Central Park and when I arrived, there was a marathon going on…so I crashed it. I ran a 10k with the other marathoners, without a tag or the like. Once that wrapped, my friends and I went to Governor’s Island to ride bikes. It was 100+ degrees but we did it nonetheless. TWICE. (Aside: I think they hate me) From there, we strolled over to Chelsea Pier for a burger and a beer at The Frying Pan, a boat that doubles as a restaurant/bar.

Afterwards, as I’m strolling down 24th St., I see the back of a man with a mic above his head, a crew and a camera.  Passing by, I recognized him: Ice-T!

Celeb spotting tip #1: Ask before you snap a photo.

Nan: “Whipping my camera out and shooting Ice-T’s photo while he was rapping was the wrong decision. I threw off his concentration. Whoops. The director came over and very kindly said they were trying to catch the shot before the sun went down, and that we could hang out, shoot photos and meet Ice-T when they’re done. I apologized, told him I was a dummy from Texas who didn’t know better, and excused myself.”

Celeb spotting tip #2: Keep the conversation brief.

Daniela, a TripIt fan: “I sat in the same row as Daily Show correspondent and “I’m a PC” persona, John Hodgman, on a flight from LA to NY. We had a conversation about Twitter, and then both tweeted that we were sitting next to each other. He was a lot of fun! Later I backed off though because I figured he didn’t want to spend the whole flight being a celebrity. It turns out the “Can you hear me now?” Verizon guy was also on the same flight, in first class.”

Celeb spotting tip #3: An entourage is a dead giveaway.

Scott Hintz, co-founder and VP Business Development: “Stevie Wonder was on my flight from Rabat (Morocco) to Paris 2 years ago. Everyone had boarded the plane and then we just sat there without any explanation for why we weren’t leaving. Then suddenly, an entourage boarded the plane; 6 or 7 people who had a TON of carry-on stuff… the last person to board was Stevie. He sat about 4 rows in front of me, using some kind of electronic device.”

Celeb spotting tip #4: Keep an eye out for frequent flyers.

Note: What are the chances that Ewan McGregor could be spotted on British Airways by two different TripIt colleagues?!

Edith, Senior Product Manager: “I was flying through London on my way to South Africa for Comrades Marathon.  I splurged and used my miles for British Airways first class. When I was walking down the jet bridge at LHR, an airplane employee said “welcome” to the guy in front of me, and started escorting him. No name exchanged, so I was wondering who was so important/well known that no introduction was necessary! She stayed with him through multiple elevators and waited for the train to immigration, as I tried to figure out who it was. When the train arrived, he turned to look at me, and I felt a blue-eyed Jedi stare down.”

Scott: “While waiting for my flight from SFO-LHR in the British Airways first class lounge, I noticed Ewan seated about 15 feet away. Eventually, a “handler” came and helped him board the plane before everyone else. Upon arrival at LHR, he went through customs like any other passenger. I did notice that he stood facing forward the whole time, probably so the people behind him didn’t notice who he was.  He kept his head down and wore sunglasses most of the time after passing through customs.”

Celeb spotting tip #5: Celebrities travel like the rest of us (well, sometimes).

Harold Liss, Senior Software Engineer: “I was once on a flight with Fabio. I didn’t talk to him, but I remember that he was right behind me in the security line, and others kept remarking on how good of a Fabio lookalike he was! After landing, he was waiting curbside to be picked up, with everyone else, and nobody really hounded him.”

*What famous faces have you spotted while traveling? Share your stories or tips in the comments section.