Hometown: Brisbane, Australia
ITMI graduation year: 2011
Travel bucket list: Lions in the wild, Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Zion, Alaska, New Orleans, Disneyland, Antarctica, Hang Soon Dang Cave Vietnam, Milford Sound, Tasmania, Margaret River, Perth, The Kimberly
Tour essentials: Phone, iPad, Sunscreen, Power board
What or who inspired you to become a tour director?
I always wanted to work in travel, but it never quite happened. I spent 15 years in Marketing and Events for a manufacturing company until I took my first overseas trip; where I met Christina Hardman. She was the Tour Director on an Eastern Cities Tour and she inspired me to look at life differently. On my return she helped me take the big leap into changing careers.
How do you balance your personal life with your travel career?
It is a hard balance because my travel life is my life, and I am on the road now most of each month. I handle my time at home like I am a full-time worker, and always make time for family and friends. Once a trip is finished, I spoil myself with time for friends or pampering, but I find my travel life so amazing that I am always itching to get back on the road in a couple of days.
What qualities do you feel make for a good tour director?
Creative problem solver, excellent customer service skills, creative storyteller, extremely well-organized, professional, able to balance keeping everyone on time while making sure they have an amazing experience seeing everything they wanted to see.
What advice would you give to a first-time traveler?
Research the little things like average custom line times. It is horrible to have a trip ruined because you miss a connection due to custom lines. Power board and extension cords can be invaluable. Join a frequent flyer program. The benefits can make for a more comfortable flight experience. Ask if the seat next to you is free, especially on long haul flights, so you can lay down. Travel like a local: use public transport, have coffee at a local shop and people watch, strike up conversations with the people at the next table. They can give you tips on what is worth seeing locally or that little store that has some unique gifts.
What destinations are on your travel bucket list?
Lions in the wild, Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Zion, Alaska, New Orleans, Disneyland, Antarctica, Hang Soon Dang Cave Vietnam, Milford Sound, Tasmania, Margaret River, Perth, The Kimberly
What are three things you must always take with you?
My phone and iPad, sunscreen, and power board
Do you have a moment or a story you would like to share about something that has particularly touched you on a tour?
Doing a volunteer experience in Victoria Falls and meeting the orphaned kids and transforming their home for them was rewarding, as was meeting a beautiful young lady who was 15 years old named Beauty and talking to her and realizing she has dreams like us. She wants to be a lawyer to prosecute the people who harm them. These kids have nothing except a roof over their heads, and they still have big dreams. Doing something simple like building a sustainable garden, painting their house, giving them bed frames, a new TV, or a dining room setting gives these kids hope that people care.
How has tour directing impacted your perspective of the world?
Some days I feel overwhelmed by how amazing life has become and the experiences I have had that I once only dreamed of doing. I am so blessed that the world is now my 9 - 5 office: seeing clown fish on the Great Barrier Reef, watching sunrise over Victoria Falls, or watching kids delight in seeing fairy penguins at Phillip Island. It makes me feel so honored that every day I get to watch people realize their dreams and see the wonder on their faces while sharing with them an amazing Dream Trip.
What advice would you give someone if they wanted to become a tour director or guide?
Become your own boss, and embrace the opportunities that come from ITMI. I wouldn't be working for DreamTrips without ITMI sending me a news flash. But, be prepared to work hard because your heart and soul has to go into every trip.
Do you agree that a tour director is actually an ambassador of goodwill? If so, why?
Yes, without question, from practicing sustainable tourism such as ensuring that the guest has an unforgettable experience in prehistoric rainforests while leaving them as they arrived for the next visitor, to being kind to all those you meet. When you return to any location, they will remember you and will go that extra mile to ensure your guests have an amazing time, from upgrading honeymoon guests to dealing with any problems that may arise during the trip.