I took a year off between school and university to travel. I ended up taking several more 'years off ' after leaving university to travel and work abroad, culminating in starting work as a trainee travel consultant in the late 1980's. As soon as I started this job, all of my anxiety about career direction evaporated as I realised that it was possible to work in an industry that I was passionate about. There is more about my background and the Travel Nation story here.
1981 – 1984 Smattering of politics, sociology and philosophy at the University of East Anglia in the days when the state paid your tuition fees, living expenses, rent and train fare home each holiday.
18 months at STA Travel way back in the 1980's when we used to book flights by calling the airline! 10 years at Bridge the World in London as the manager. Founded Travel Nation in 2001.
Haydn has visited:
Deserts. I love the dry climate and big eerie landscapes.
18 years old in 1980. I hitchhiked to Egypt where my plan was to find a ship on the Suez Canal to take me to India. I made it as far as the Suez Canal but was politely told that the times had passed when young men in search of adventure could work their passage on passing ships.
On a steam train on a clear moonlit night crossing the Thar Desert in Rajasthan (India).
Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand, Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
My parents are separated and as a teenager, I worked out that by hitchhiking instead of taking the train to travel between them, I could considerably boost my income by pocketing the train fare. Those illicit trips up and down the M1 between Nottingham and Sheffield in the 1970's gave me a real buzz and sense of adventure.
In Tokyo, there was a small common room with a couple of ratty old chairs, but it was obvious that it had not long since been converted from being a men's toilet as you could clearly make out the shape of where the urinals had been fixed to the wall!
Victoria Chau Doc on the Bassac River (part of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam). For the view of the frenetic human activity on the river.
I was hitchhiking around the USA on my own and badly sprained my ankle on a beach in San Diego. Unable to walk, two friendly guys helped me off the beach and drove me to hospital. While I was being X-rayed, they either got bored waiting and drove off with my backpack in the boot of their car, or they purposely stole it. I'll never know.
I was unable to walk, had lost all of my possessions and only had one shoe. Luckily a nurse who I had chatted to several hours earlier when I limped in saw me forlornly spinning around the helicopter landing pad in the dead of the night in a wheelchair, took pity on me and took me home, where I stayed for a few days while I recovered.
The Ajanta and Ellora caves in India.
I would love to go back to India after a 25-year absence. A disproportionately high number of my best travel memories are from India.
Uninhabited, ice covered and windswept Elephant Island in the Southern Ocean - to see where Ernest Shackleton and his men holed up for months on end in 1916 as part of their quest to return to civilisation after their ship (the Endurance) had been crushed by pack ice.
I am currently doing just that in New Zealand for a year as I have a Kiwi wife. How lucky that my wife happens to come from the most beautiful country in the world!
Raw horse meat in Japan. At least in Japan, they tell you it is horse meat!
Sri Lankan breakfast
Ethiopia – by a country mile! But please don't let that put you off going, it is a wonderful country.
Brimmed hat, shades, backgammon, kindle and these days a laptop.
Himalayan villagers in Nepal. Almost everyone manages to be pleasant and optimistic, usually despite having very basic homes and few possessions.
I once travelled from Jakarta to Singapore going via Batam, using a cycle rickshaw, plane, taxi, junk boat, catamaran, and a double-decker bus all in one wonderful Phileas Fogg style day.
I was a landscape gardener in Sydney, an English teacher in Yokohama (Japan) and last but not least, currently based in New Zealand working remotely as the MD of Travel Nation and Rickshaw Travel.
Worst was the second time I went to India. In the first few days, I was trying to fathom what made me come back when I knew what madness to expect. I recognised the same feeling years later when our second baby was born. Happily, I ended up having a great time in India second time around, and my baby girl also very quickly worked her magic!
People make it for me as they can (either wittingly or unwittingly) make you laugh. You can never really have a good time anywhere without humour.
On long trips, I used to really like travelling alone as I always seemed to have more adventurous adventures. These days I go away for much shorter periods and like to be with my wife and kids. I love the vicarious nature of travelling with my children especially as they get older and notice more.
Pint of Guinness, please mate.
I am not a collector. I've spent many years travelling and living in over 60 countries, but I think I have only ever brought one item home, a wickerwork thing with a pot inside it from Kashmir. I last saw it rotting away in a corner of my garden.
Those in the Abel Tasman, New Zealand. It's like the whole place has been photo-shopped in real life.
If archaeological sites count as buildings, Machu Picchu. I was once looking in the general direction of (unlit) the Palace of Mysore in Karnataka, India on a moonless night when the dazzling decorative lights were suddenly switched on, illuminating the whole place against the night sky. I was told that they only switched the lights on for an hour a week to conserve electricity use.
Cheap: Eating in local thali houses in India has to be as cheap as it gets. I had a meal once for 7p
Fearsomely expensive: Nursing an £18 pint of lager at the bar on the 200m high spectacular Skypark that crowns the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore. I asked the bar lady if they had used the volume uplift incremental marginal profitability matrix when setting their bar prices, but she seemed more interested in serving the next customer.
I found myself at what must have been a very early acid house party on a palm-fringed beach in Goa in 1986, complete with pulsating psychedelic music, strobes and German hippies covered with neon body paint. The experience made me question whether my hitherto held belief that spending the evening in the student union bar at the University of East Anglia was, in fact, the ultimate night out after all.
Herby peppery sausages. Let's face it; you can only ever get a decent banger at home.