We caught up with Jane Arthur, our lead travel consultant and asked her why she loves to help people to travel and how she's managed to stay so positive, during the last year.
The pandemic forced me to give up my residence in Melbourne and I had to make significant changes to my life so I moved down the coast to Point Lonsdale in Victoria. But the chance of a sea change has actually been the best thing I’ve ever done. I'm in the family beachhouse which Mum has owned since I was about 12. I walk down the end of my straight to the Lonsdale heads and have a swim and I've reconnected with the community, so I really love it. It's provided a nice silver lining on what has been a difficult year for people in our industry.
I do my job because I love helping people discover the world. I have been a travel consultant for 30 years (plus a few) and by far the most rewarding time is spent advising my customers and friends.
I was 11 turning 12 and Mum‘s husband and my stepfather, an immunologist, went to live in Africa and look after an international school at the base of Mt Kilamanjaro. This is where we met the Masai. We climbed the mountain and saw the migration on the Serengeti. Back in those days, in the early ‘80s, there were few organised tours. We got a Kombi van to go to the Ngorongoro crater. Air Tanzania was so small, we flew on small planes where there were chickens on board. On the way over, we coincided with a cyclone that just missed Mauritius and the palm trees were bending in half. These were indelible experiences that shaped my life and led to me doing what I do today.
It’s the industry as a whole. I don’t have a best. I have lots of experiences. It’s the network of friends around the world, it’s the different places and cultures and people that I love. The landscapes, the cities, the foods, smells and sounds. You can’t undo your experiences and the ways they affect you. That’s what I love what travel does for people. And you don’t have to travel to the ends of the Earth.
I love FNQ and the Red Centre. They are mystical places with incredible landscape formations. If you think about things you see in India, we have the same here but we haven’t paid enough attention and respect. You can be in the middle of a red sand desert with stars everywhere and feel very much connected to the Earth. It's like being in the desert south of Morocco. We have the best of all worlds in Australia.
You’d be surprised how many people don’t know what to do. Part of our job is to work this out. I can put someone where I want to go, but it’s what they want to get out of it, what their needs are that matters most. I've been looking after some people's families for years and during the pandemic, have spent a lot of time staying in touch and keeping them in the loop, especially as we've had a year of refunds and cancellations to manage (which has been hard, as we've given back all the commission, which means we haven't been paid for more than a year).
My best advice is to establish a good relationship with a reputable travel advisor and work with them. You will be amazed at the benefits you will receive and the trust you can build. You can't google trust! We look after everything at no extra cost and save you an enormous amount of time and stress, trying to find a reputable experience.
That we have still have a great need to travel. Maybe not as far and as often but there is much to do and see right here. There are new challenges now with restrictions, permits, health and safety and that's where our experience can come in really helpful, especially as it costs no more.
I think we should make travel more mindful and with more reason. We can’t deny how the Earth has recovered, like giving up smoking. We can see the benefits of the reduced amount of air travel. Finding better ways to travel, less often, would be what I would want. There are ways you can travel lightly and have a more positive impact on the places you visit.
I have so many that I couldn’t say just one. As strange as it seems because it's about finding what other people want out of their travel ... matching them to their dream trip and experience. Africa, India, Morocco, Cambodia, Northern Territory, South America, Europe ... the list goes on.
I really hope that we can all travel again maybe not as freely and carelessly but with mindfulness and care for our planet. I also hope that travel advisors continue to be an integral part, as we love what we do and want to continue to be able to look after people as they build their own indelible experiences.