Amazingly this is my third time working at Travel Nation. I joined as a sales consultant in 2007, then left to help Haydn (owner of Travel Nation) to set up a sister company, Rickshaw Travel. Over five years the sister company grew from just the two of us to a thriving and successful tour operator and earning itself a deserved reputation as a great place to work. I returned to Travel Nation as a Project Manager working on IT projects in 2013, but due to the complexities that come with a young family, after a year, I left to become a full-time Dad for a while, before coming back on to sales.
The University of Life! I didn’t go to university as the travelling bug got me early at 19. Work, save, travel, repeat.
Eight years at STA Travel; 5 years Rickshaw Travel; Global Village, two years Aeromedical and one year in business travel.
Jim has visited:
Chasing my two kids around. If I get some spare time, I’ll be at the allotment growing my veg and enjoying the peace.
Tough one, but probably either the Stone Roses, New Order or Oasis - all very influential artists or albums for me that defined important times in my life. Film-wise, maybe Ferris Bueller's Day Off (or anything by John Hughes), or maybe Raiders of the Lost Ark or Back to the Future.
Fiji. I’d always wanted to go to Fiji since I was a kid for some reason but apart from its reputation of having great beaches I didn’t know much about the place before I arrived. The Fijian people are the nicest folks you could ever wish to meet, genuinely warm and friendly and never seem to stop smiling. Fiji is good for the soul.
Sarong, head torch, sunglasses, guide book and music.
Either France or Canada. The French have the right idea between work and play, while Canada for me has the most stunning outdoors combined with all the trappings of North American life, plus a good sense of humour as well.
When I was 19, I fell into going on a round the world trip with a friend I’d known for a few months. It was pre-internet days, and I didn’t know anyone who had done anything like that before and information was quite limited. We booked our flights, got ourselves a working holiday visa for Australia and made the rest up as we went along. By the time I got home knowing that I could do all that by myself at 19 moulded me and gave me a lot of self-confidence.
I’m not one for staying in big luxurious hotels, most of my most memorable hotel stays have been in small quirky places, usually stumbled upon by accident. The Big Sur River Inn on the Californian coast between San Francisco and LA stands out as a beautiful stopover I did while on a road trip with my best friend. We stayed in a simple log cabin on the night of his 21st birthday and spent the evening by the river chatting, eating amazing burgers and drinking beers around an open fire. After growing up together watching The Wonder Years on TV this special night epitomised everything great about America.
I think the beaches of Tulum in Mexico take some beating, with their white sands and warm turquoise waters. The Maldives come a close second.
Uganda. After working in travel for ten years, I took a three-month sabbatical. Top of my list was Africa and I’d always wanted to see the mountain gorillas, so took a tour across Kenya, Tanzania and finally into Uganda. The end of my month in Africa was capped off by spending the most amazing hour in the company of a Mountain Gorilla family in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Myanmar/Burma. South-East Asia has a special place in my heart and Burma is one of the few destinations in that region I haven’t been to yet.
I’ve been lucky enough to have worked in a few, Australia, France and the USA. In Australia, I used my work holiday visa to pick up temporary jobs when my funds needed topping up, mainly working in Melbourne and Sydney. In the USA I worked for a medical repatriation company, arranging flights/stretchers home for people unfortunate enough to have had accidents abroad (please buy travel insurance! You wouldn’t believe how much it can cost otherwise). I also spent two winter seasons working as a bar manager in the French Alps by night and snowboarding all day.
China. It was a happy culture shock, but culture shock nevertheless. The language barrier is more pronounced in China than anywhere else I’ve ever been to. I’d always found on my previous travels that a few gestures, smiles and pigeon English will get me what I needed or to the place I wanted to go, but in China, it was very tough.
A friend and I were stuck in Manila for two days over a Filipino bank holiday in 1995 with only a USD $20 traveller cheque between us. We were incredibly lucky to be taken in by a lovely Belgian lady who ran a hostel and she drove us around Manila for a whole day trying to find somewhere where I could get a cash advance on my credit card as I didn’t know my PIN. We didn’t find anywhere, and we had to leave without paying her for our accommodation or taxi service, but when I got home a year later, I posted her some money and received a lovely letter back from her.
I was drunkenly taught to pole dance by the daughter of a Fijian MP.
Probably New York.
While backpacking across Mexico, I stayed in a remote beach cabin on the Atlantic coast. The owner kindly invited us to join him and his family to the local town's annual Fiesta. The only way we could get there was in the back of his truck that usually transported his cows... The fiesta itself was beautiful to see, great live music, dancing, street food and lots of Tequila, we were the only ‘out of towners’ there and it felt a real privilege.
Apart from friends and family, very little!