I joined Travel Nation in 2014 to look after Group Travel and Weddings Abroad. As a child I travelled extensively, living in the USA, Burma and Indonesia, which is no doubt where the love of travel originated from. Family holidays took us to Africa and Asia, before my first “gap” year in Southern Africa. It was after the second gap year in Australasia that I started my 19-year stint at Trailfinders as a trainee long-haul travel consultant, progressing to Group Travel Manager and Manager of Weddings Abroad.
All over the place!
Cardiff University, with backpacking before and afterwards.
19 years at Trailfinders before joining Travel Nation in 2014
Mark has visited:
Picking up the thousands of loom bands that my children scatter all over the house.
Attending sporting events all over the world.
Australia – there was plenty of work, loads to see and it was just too good to leave on time.
South Africa – I wasn’t fully prepared for how naturally beautiful the country is, both inland and on the coast. The natural beauty contrasts sharply with what has happened there politically over many, many decades. I find the country fascinating and brilliant to travel in, and for those reasons, I have been 5 times.
Unpack – made easier by always trying to travel very light.
The first one I don’t remember as it was visiting Niagara Falls when I was 18 months old – I have no doubt it was awesome though! The one that I do remember is back-packing for the first time, arriving in South Africa & suddenly having complete freedom to go with the flow. It ended up being a huge and rewarding adventure taking in some amazing sights.
Any number of safari destinations in Africa – game drives never cease to amaze.
Cape Town and the surrounding area
New Zealand – full of the most amazing scenery and a truly brilliant place to travel.
La Maison Arabe in Marrakech – located right in the heart of Marrakech it is a luxurious Riad, with great service and a fantastic restaurant serving local cuisine (they offer a cookery course if you have enough time). What I love about it though is that, despite its location, it is the calmest place imaginable, which is in stark contrast with the general mayhem of Marrakech.
It could be one of several in the Whitsunday Islands. On a 3 or 4-day sailing trip you are totally spoilt for choice.
Walking through the business class cabin en route to economy.
The Carnivore restaurant in Nairobi serves all sorts of meats including crocodile & zebra. From memory, it was all delicious. The food in local Vietnamese restaurants was excellent, although to this day I couldn’t tell you what was on the menu.
The best meals would be in Goa where, because of a very knowledgeable local contact, we were taken to some very off the beaten track restaurants and treated to traditional local cuisine.
Picking lettuces and planting leeks in Australia – back-breaking work but reasonably well paid in backpacking terms, so at the time it was well worth doing to fund the next few months of travel.
Malawi – a brilliant experience provided you have the patience of a saint – nothing happens quickly!
In terms of socially depressing, I would cite any number of African countries I have visited where poverty is such a massive issue.
For a one-off “down” moment it would be Los Angeles Airport, on a full day transit en route to the UK, at the end of a several month adventure with no money left. Reality kicks in sharpish. The flip side was getting back home to friends and family which is always a great feeling.
Not really funny or strange but I bought an ancient Dodge “ute” in Australia for about $400 – it was an absolute wreck. Somehow it made it all the way up the East Coast from Sydney, beyond Cairns up to the Daintree National Park, before heading across to Ayers Rock and finally limping into Adelaide where it died. As it got me through so much of Australia I still look back on it as being the bargain of the century.
The Hong Kong rugby 7’s (it’s a non-stop 3-day party).
If I’m travelling alone it’s my children. If we are on a family holiday we do slightly miss the guinea pigs!