This week we would like to introduce The Guy of Flights and Frustration. His first true experience of travel was inter-railing around Europe for a month whilst in University. Then once he started working, he went on a 17-month placement to live and work in Saudi Arabia. Since then he has become an international business traveller for more than a dozen years, taking an international flight almost every month of the year.
1. What inspires you to travel, and how would you define the word ‘traveler’?
I love the sense of adventure, discovering new places, new people and feeling like I am part of the world. If I’ve not got somewhere to go to in the near future I’m afraid of feeling bored or stuck where I am.
I find travelling to not only be an educating experience but also a very humbling one too. You can really learn to relate to what goes on in the lives of people who are maybe less fortunate than yourself. I also think that people who really do travel (that is not just go abroad to drink all week) mature quicker and have a more balanced outlook on life.
My definition of “traveler”? I think it is someone who aspires to constantly discover new places and cultures. Someone with an open and inquisitive mind who wants to be inspired by the sights and sounds of other peoples and countries.
2. For those who don’t yet know you, can you explain your travel style?
The overwhelming majority of my travel is now business travel. I tend to fly most months of the year and can typically be away from home 1-2 weeks a month. I’m very fortunate to be able to fly Business Class on long haul flights and stay in reasonable (as opposed to expensive) hotels. On the downside I can tend to arrive Sunday night and fly out Saturday morning (in the office Monday – Friday) so it can sometimes be difficult to explore my location.
3. How do you afford your travels?
Most of my travel is paid by my employer since I am on business trips. I also earn a lot of frequent flyer points so this helps make my personal travel more affordable. Otherwise I use savings to fund personal travel.
4. Where was your first international trip and how old were you?
I never really class it as proper international travel but as a child I often went with my parents to holiday in Ireland. My parents originate from the Dublin area and emigrated to England before I was born.
Ireland aside, my first proper (in my mind) international trip was in 1993. I was 20 years of age and went with 3 friends inter-railing around Europe for a month. This is the first time I had exposure to being in a country where I didn’t speak the local language.
5. Where has been your favorite destination? Where has been your least favorite?
I’m often asked this and still struggle to come up with a definite response. I fell in love with Prague the first time I went there. I’ve been back since and still want to go back again. I do fear though that it has now become too popular rather than being my little hide away favourite spot.
When it comes to work I love visiting Shanghai for its vibrant nature and friendly locals. I also adore Queensland in Australia. The tropical climate and stunning scenery thrills me every time.
As for least favourite, I’ve always been apprehensive when going to Johannesburg. Whilst I’ve been fortunate enough never to have suffered a bad experience I am always on my guard. I’ve heard too many stories of the crime around there and also have South African friends who have been victims. It is such a shame since the country offers so much.
6. If you had to settle down in one location forever, where would you choose and why?
I’d probably go for a small seaside town on the Queensland coast. The tropical climate is a dream for me; the people are laid back and very friendly and there are no language barriers. The lifestyle is very appealing and I could also keep track and follow my beloved rugby league.
7. Have you ever had high hopes for a destination, tour, etc., only to be disappointed in the end? Or any travel mishaps?
Whilst it was in the year 2000 (it might have changed now) I was really put off following my visit to Cairo and Giza in Egypt. The sights are spectacular but we were constantly pestered by people either begging or trying to sell us something. This happened every time we stepped into the street. I appreciate these people are poor and I sympathise with that. However I found their “in your face” nature very rude and offensive.
8. What’s the funniest or weirdest cultural idiosyncrasy you’ve either witnessed or experienced?
I’m often amused at the local greetings you find in particular countries, which would represent “How are you?” On first hearing them I would think of the greeting literally. Such as in Australia they would say “How you going?” (I would be thinking, by car or maybe on foot.) Or in South Africa they greet you with “How’s it?” (I’d be thinking “it”, what is it?)
9. What keepsake do you have to get at all your destinations?
I must admit that personally I’m not a collector of anything like this. I will often visit places again or I have pictures to remind me of the place. However, since I met my wife I know she has a big soft spot for cuddly toys. As a result I’ll often pick up a cuddly toy as a gift for her, such as on my recent trip to China I bought a panda soft toy for her.
10. How about the one thing you cannot travel without?
Well apart from my passport (obviously) I love to be with my kindle and iPod Touch. I must admit to not being a great reader but the kindle is always something good to fall back upon in those quiet, airport-waiting times. I also have hundreds of books on it! The iPod is great too, not just for music but I listen to quite a few podcasts too.
11. Why did you begin blogging? And how did you come up with your blog name?
I began my blog in late September 2012 so I suppose it is starting to become established now.
As for the name “Flights And Frustration” that had been around in my head for a while. I was contemplating writing a book with that name and use it to relay some of my travel experiences and rants as a frequent traveller. I’d mapped out an outline of my book then unfortunately I had an accident with my computer and lost the outline before I had backed it up. It then seemed like a good idea to use it as a name for a blog instead. I must admit that to date the blog has become more a travel stories and flights review site. I do plan to venture more into the “frustration” over time so watch this space!
12. What’s next for 2014?
A lot of this is where work takes me and with our operations in 6 continents it could be almost anywhere! At the moment I have trips planned for Australia, India, Norway and around the UK. No doubt the US and Canada will be on the radar soon.
Backpack or suitcase? Definitely a suitcase nowadays. I think my backpack days are long over. I fly abroad almost every month with work so have to have my work computer, materials and clothing in good shape for when I arrive.
I’ve also become accustomed to this style of travel so holidays now will tend to be location specific for a week or two rather than on the move all the time.
Window or aisle? I tend to prefer a window seat so I can gaze out the window. I particularly love the view over Sydney Harbour when coming into land, which is well worth the seat. I know that it can be a pain for toilet visits however when flying long haul I’m fortunate enough that work pay for me to go Business Class. If it is a short haul Economy Class flight then the aisle could well be a better option.
Solo or group? The vast majority of my trips are solo. I occasionally travel with a colleague or might be on holiday with my wife. When it comes to work travel though I like the freedom of movement of only having myself to look out for.
Tapas or sushi? Tough one, both are great. I’d probably just go with Tapas for the variety but would accept sushi as a close second.
Beach or mountains? For a week in the sun a beach holiday can be very relaxing. I also know it is what my wife would choose too!
Be sure to follow along The Guy to learn about the ‘frustration’ of traveling: