The 10 Misconceptions of Trip Managers 

Being a Trip Manager means you just get to drink and party all the time right? Wrong! The misconception of the life as a trip manager is something we all find pretty common.

Being a Trip Manager
Being a Trip Manager

Here are the top ten misconceptions of Trip Managers who take bunches of 50 youths around a continent.

1. Yes we party, but not all the time– We visit some of the world’s best party cities and trust me when I say that we enjoy having a boogie but we can’t always show you our winning dance moves (of which we have many). Getting very little sleep is normal and it sometimes means that we have to do the occasional ‘smoke bomb’. This ninja-like move is when we walk around; check that you are all having the best time and then ‘poof’ we disappear.

We do this knowing that you are going to have a great night regardless and that we will be the ones working the next morning while you attempt to cure a hangover. Do be aware though, that when we do pick a night to party we usually go hard and it means you may need to clear the dance floor and we will usually be in the last taxi home.

2. We are not human- This common misconception is felt by many in the industry. Now I know that sometimes it may seem as though we are robots; finely tuned with genius minds which never switch off but really we are not. Being human, as you may know, means that we have our ups and downs just like anyone else. We have to smile and be accommodating, that’s an essential part of our job but being human means we may have a day where we are sad, tired or do not want to be disturbed because we want to have a quick shower at the end of a long day.

St Mark's Square- Venice
St Mark’s Square- Venice

3. We know it all- So many people ask how we can remember as much as we do and when you work as a trip manager you are able to retain plenty of information but that doesn’t mean that we know it all. We are always learning and we may not have the answer for you but we are willing to find out or to listen to a fun fact that you have to share.

It is impossible for someone to know everything and this also means that sometimes we get lost; yes that’s correct. Sometimes we take a wrong turn in cities we know but most of the time you won’t even notice because we don’t want you to have to worry.

4. We don’t know the gossip on the coach- Please don’t be fooled. We know exactly what is going on. Organised group tours often have a feeling similar to what we all experienced in high school. There are groups of friends; some outgoing others a little shy and people who end up in a relationship on tour. Don’t think that we are oblivious to these happenings. We are always listening and just because it’s hasn’t been explicitly said that people didn’t spend the evening in their room doesn’t mean it’s not, almost always, noticeable the very next morning.

5. We don’t have lives outside of tour- We are faithful to you always, for 24 hours of the day you are in our care but sometimes we get to grab a few minutes to ourselves and in that time we will do normal things. We have family and friends who want to hang out and chat just as you do in your day to day life. We have hobbies and interest which extend well beyond our work and when your tour is finished; unless you were someone we genuinely enjoyed spending time with, we will part ways, continue with our lives as you continue with yours.

6. We haven’t done this before and have no idea what we are doing- no matter how many tours you have been on our how many times you may have visited a particular city you are not the Trip Manager. I’m sure you would be a little grumpy if someone came into your place of work and told you how to do your job so please don’t tell us how to do ours. Which leads to the next point

There is always time for a selfie
There is always time for a selfie

7. Anyone can get this job- We go through some of the longest and most intense training of all companies globally. No matter which company takes you on your tour rest assured that trip managers have put the blood sweat and endless tears into getting our dream job. Each year youth travel companies receive thousands of applications and companies will maybe employ around thirty to forty of those applicants; those aren’t great odds unless you work your butt off.

8. A tour just happens- The amount of work that goes behind a tour is staggering and it goes well beyond just the role of the trip manager. Our offices have teams who organise these trips and take the worry out of it for you. They probably have a fair few grey hairs for organising every aspect of the tour up to a year in advance. Have a think about the hotels, dinners, transport, drivers, activities, ferries, flights and activities, these things only cover the tip of the iceberg. This is why you booked a group tour, for us to take the hassle out of you having to organise it all yourself. You’re job is to be on holiday while we do the work remembering it is not only your driver and trip manager who make it happen.

9. We like you all- This may be the hardest blow for some of you but with every tour taking fifty travellers around continents we sometimes encounter people that we get on better with than with others. This is the way life works and there will be people you like and dislike. Just because you may not be someone we connect with as much doesn’t mean that you will have less of an incredible experience. We have to be professional, treat people equally and with respect but if you are not going to reciprocate that behaviour then don’t expect us to be best buddies outside of your tour.

10. We are on holiday- So many people assume that because we travel for work that we are on holiday; this couldn’t be more untrue. If we were on holiday we would be sitting next to you on the coach not at the front with mounds of paperwork and a list of endless tasks each day. If we look like we are having a good time it’s because we have managed to get all of our work done prior and because if we didn’t look like we were having a good time you may question if you were.

We Sphinx Egypt is Amazing
We Sphinx Egypt is Amazing

These misconceptions are common but our line of work lends to them but there aren’t many people in the industry who would trade it for anything else because we do have the best job in the world. We often take it for granted but it is a job and it does see us working hard to ensure that you have the best time possible.

We do have fun on a daily basis and most of that can be attributed to all of you who put trust in us to show you some of the most unique and fascinating places. You teach us things along the way and while you are busy making memories that you will cherish and hold dear; we are too and you are part of them and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

To Live the Suitcase Life

So many people seem to call themselves well-travelled these days but many seem to live something they imagine to be the suitcase life.

Once you have lived out of a suitcase for over two or five years then perhaps you can call yourself reasonably travelled.

The idea of being well-travelled does not mean staying in 5 Star hotels and having mummy and daddy pay for it all. It means; getting lost and not knowing which direction to turn, scraping pennies for the £3 meal deal at Tescos, having all of your belongings stolen in a land where not a soul speaks English and waking up in the middle of the night with a swollen face from the bed bugs who have bitten you in the early hours.

I am well-travelled and this is something I would not trade for the world.

There are so many ‘travellers’ and impressionable bloggers out there who call themselves well-travelled but who have no real idea what it truly means.

In my job I travel every day and I take people for whirls around Europe. I enhance their experiences by showing them the time of their lives. Some of these people are what most consider to be well-travelled but really they are only beginning to get their first glimpse of what real travelling truly means. They have budgets and commitments which anyone who is travelling should have. For many of these temporary suitcase travellers they really do have the time of their lives, I know this to be true as many have said that they felt liberated, free and happy with the people they have slowly become by travelling over time by discovering new cities and cultures. They live the temporary suitcase life but ultimately return to normality where life is comfortable and constant; something we humans crave.

I like to think that I show them the real world and not some jaded image of how people think people should be travelling these days.

The real suitcase life means hanging around a laundromat until your washing is dry enough that it won’t smell like mould in the next 3 days, it means wearing flip-flops in the shower and hearing the person snoring in the bed across the dorm as you imagine throwing a pillow at their head; and in some instances you do. These descriptions merely scratch the surface of a real suitcase traveller.

I cross countries every two to three days and yes in my job I get a snapshot of cities; but these cities I return to, the locals become friends and the customs become ordinary.

To live the suitcase life means to you become a local; you are greeted in the language of the country you are in because you are seen as one of them. You don’t stand out and flash your Prada handbags and free top-notch accommodation because all that does is scream ignorant tourist and spoilt little brat.

You spend your free days (which are few and far between) searching for something new to do where the tourists do not exist and where you feel as though you fit the mould of a local. Your holidays are spent scouring any possible resource for the best bargain to the most remote place you know. It becomes a new adventure to add to the never-ending list you have not written down but have scrambled in your head with everything else you wish to achieve before you have to get “serious about life”.

To live the suitcase life is not for everyone but rather for those with the spirit for it. It is for those who have nothing to prove to everyone else. Nothing to show off to the endless followers with floppy hats claiming that they are wanderlust when really all they are is delusional. Delusional about reality and what it really means to travel.

I salute all who really embrace the suitcase life and all the hard times that go with it. I admire those even more who take those hard times with their suitcase and who make friends with people that they never thought they could, who live life on budget they never thought that they could manage, who fall in love with remarkable cities and who see the world with new eyes because they have truly travelled and know that they have gained a world of experience from it. To live the suitcase life is to take anything that comes your way and to turn it all into noteworthy memories and times that you shall never forget.

If you really live the suitcase life then you know what I am talking about because you are in it, living it and breathing it because the normality of life that humans crave does not fit us. We break the mould each day, we become locals in several countries because we know how they live. Everyday we get up and our suitcases are packed and ready to go, ready to see what awaits us at our next destination.

To those who truly live the in this never ending moving world that I speak of; go and make memories while living your suitcase life because it certainly is the best time of your life.

 

What to Expect-The Contiki Interview Part Two

It is not easy, it is the interview that made me walk out not knowing how I did or if I was going to get the dream job.

I have received plenty of emails asking about what to expect in the Contiki Group and personal interviews and to be completely honest I don’t think our experiences will be the same. In Part One I explored how to go about writing your speech for the interview and now comes the nitty gritty

Having spoken to colleagues about their interview experiences it is fair to say that everyone had a completely different experience and they were all asked entirely different questions.

Putting that aside I will share with you my experience and the questions I was asked but more importantly how I held myself together in both Contiki interviews.

Walking into the interview in Sydney I saw 25 or so other nervous and eager faces waiting as patiently as I was to find out more about the position of European Tour Manager. My head was filled with my speech, repeating it over and over in my head so that I would not forget it when it came to the presentation.

The, then, Operations Manager got up and spoke for a solid hour about the position and she didn’t make it sound fuzzy and warm like you see in the brochure, she gave us the facts, the things we may not have known or rather chose to ignore about the job. Perhaps she wanted to see who was really there for the position and who was just there because it would get them a ride around some of the most incredible cities in Europe.

We were then tasked with an exercise; we had five minutes to chat to the person next to us, to find out a little more about them and then to introduce them to the audience and the Contiki staff.

Following this it was time for the presentations, the cliché of being able to cut the tension with a knife was an understatement. Starting in alphabetical order I knew I had some time to relax before I was called to present. The nerves in the room reached an all time high when the first girl fumbled numerous times, burst into tears and ran back to her chair. People were falling and we hadn’t even passed the first hurdle.

My turn came as I knew it would and I was slightly nervous. In my speech I mentioned how everything works in threes, luckily for me the Operations Manager had mentioned the power of three in her chat to us. She instantly lifted her head and I knew I had her attention. The audience giggled at my jokes and hardly noticed my fumble. I sat down confident and listened to all the other speeches, ensuring I wrote down each person’s topic next to their name.

We were then told that the interview was over and we needed to call back in just over an hour to see if we had made it to the personal interview. The wait was agonising. All us interviewees had decided to go for lunch and to call together. When the time came to call I was sat at the table of “NO”, my nerves were out of control, eventually I built up the courage and was told I had made it through and needed to be back in two hours.

The time came and I was finally called to the interview room where I met the Operations Manager and a senior Tour Manager, I gave them a big smile as I walked in, I didn’t get a smile back.

I was asked a series of questions with the interview lasting just over thirty minutes on a range of topics. My studies, intentions and skills were all questioned and scrutinised. Later I was given a scenario a tour manager may experience on the job and it was by no means easy. I had to think about what I would do as a tour manager with real clients who were having real issues. Almost all the interviewees got a scenario, they want to see how you would think about it and prioritise the necessary steps.

I felt confident about my responses and more importantly, I took my time. If I needed to think about something, I did, I made them wait for a response that I knew would be better than if I had rushed and blurted out something stupid.

I walked out of the interview not knowing how I did and it was only three weeks later that I received a response saying I was accepted on the training trip. It was one of the happiest moments of my life and I sit here a year later having had the best year of my life.

My advice to you about the interviews is just to be yourself, be confident because if you are really passionate and want the job then that will show.

All the best of luck and who knows, we may meet on the road.

3 Minutes to Impress- The Contiki Interview Part One

Well congratulations, there must have been something in your application that the Contiki office staff liked. Now comes the time to show them what you are made of, because trust me when I say, you don’t have very long.

Any job interview is daunting but an interview with Contiki, for the greatest job in the world, when you want nothing else than to be accepted onto that training trip, can be petrifying.

Over the past few months I have had a few emails from prospective tour managers asking me all about the interview process for Contiki and how to present your three-minute talks; so I am going to tell you about my experience and hopefully give you some tips and answer your questions regarding an interview that could change your life.

So you have received the email for your interview and in true ‘Contiki style’ you already have a ‘find out’. You need to do a speech about an assigned topic. This should be taken very seriously. Contiki want to see how you present yourself and whether or not the research, that you have spent ages looking up, is interesting and more importantly; relative to the 18-35 Contiki market.

Public speaking is the number one fear of the majority of people in the world and so don’t worry if you find it daunting, it is not something that becomes amazing overnight and not everyone has the gift of the gab.

Here are a few tips about your talk:

1. Stick to the 3 minute time limit

It is there for a reason, you are not the only person in the interview and you need to show off your information condensing skills. You also don’t want to bore your audience or make the Contiki staff daydream about where they would rather be.

2. Please make it interesting, PLEASE!

You need to remember that if you do get the job that you will be addressing Contiki clients, 18-35 year olds with diverse backgrounds. Make it fun, don’t just give a bland timeline “So and so was born on this day, blah blah”  everyone may as well just take a snooze.

Find the juicy information; the things we may not know about your topic. Surprise people and bring something different to the table. I chose to talk about the scandalous things Mr Galileo Galilei did, a friend had a photo of her historic person and offered a bottle of wine to whoever could recognise who it was. Or set the scene, give your audience a picture of what you are talking about.

3. Structure is important

If you do not have a beginning, middle and end to your speech you look as lost as a fart in a perfume shop. Having a structure and breaking your speech into 3 parts will also help you remember all the information.

4. Practice makes perfect

You are not allowed to use notes to help you during your speech so you had best make sure that you know it off by heart and the best way to do that is to practice. Say your speech to anyone who will listen and even if they don’t want to listen, say it to them anyway. See if they have the reaction you were expecting and if they don’t; then change something. You want to be as prepared as you possibly can and saying out loud may make you reconsider some of the things you have written.

5. Smile and use eye contact

Smiling and keeping eye contact with your audience makes them feel like you are engaging with them, they are also more likely to listen to what you have to say if you have good eye contact.

6. If you stumble, don’t panic

I stumbled in my speech but I stopped, took a breath and continued from the last point. Everyone is nervous and the Contiki staff know that. It is not the end of the world if you fumble. Whatever you do, do not give up and sit down! Don’t you dare! You deserve to be there just like everyone else and if you get so nervous that you run and sit down in your chair then it will be over. Giving up isn’t going to solve anything and while I am not judging your speeches I am sure that you will be looked upon fondly if you tried rather than giving up.

7. KISS-Keep it simple stupid!

Nobody likes a talk that confuses them and trust me when I say that some of the topics can be made more confusing than they need to be. Keep it simple, use everyday language and break it down into manageable bite size chunks that you and your audience can handle.

8. Try to enjoy yourself

You have made it to the first interview and this is your chance, your three minutes to impress, so do just that while trying to enjoy yourself. If you are passionate about what you are saying and enjoy yourself it will show.

In part two I will explore exactly what happens in the first Contiki interview and little tips that may help you find a place on the training trip, without giving too much away of course.

Happy speech writing.

2013: Year of the Traveller.

It is that time of year again; when we kiss goodbye to another year, write our resolutions down that only last for the month of January and promise that the next year will be better than the last.

Surprisingly for some, the world did not end. Yes, here we are and we continue to live our lives just as we had before. Most people will go back to their mundane and repetitive jobs after the new year, but not me.

If anything, 2012 gave me the fuel I needed to ignite my passion for travel. I realised that the world is a pretty big place and that if you don’t give yourself a little shove and go exploring then you are missing out on a world of opportunity.

Enjoy the tranquility of an African Safari
Enjoy the tranquillity of an African Safari

An old family friend told me that I need to make myself a ‘Travel Bucket List’ with all the places I want to see before I leave this wonderful Earth. If you think about it, most people only take one holiday a year and if you are like me, you may find yourself with a long list of places to see. You better get to ticking some of those places off of the list.

I declare 2013 the ‘Year of the Traveller’. I will be travelling around Europe for nine months and seeing things I only see on travel shows. I am getting out there, seeing what the world has to offer, exploring fascinating cultures, meeting new people and immersing myself in everything that place has to offer.

Sing in the rain in London
Sing in the rain in London

I implore you to do the same. I am not saying you need to travel halfway around the world, just travel a little bit, even around your own country. You will be amazed with what places have to offer. Enjoy the little things, you shouldn’t have to spend a small fortune to have a good time.

Make memories that will last a lifetime and may 2013 open your eyes to some of the amazing places that the world has to offer.

Happy New Year!

Travel Writing versus Travel Waffling.

With so many travellers writing about their trips with tricks and advice, who do you really listen to?

Let me begin by saying that I am most certainly not the most experienced travel writer. If anything I am far from it and having only just begun writing about my tales I am learning about what it takes to be a good travel writer and get noticed.

Having said that, I know that what you write, in any situation, is aimed at your audience, so your writing should be directed to this all important fact. I just wonder when I see travel waffle what they are really going on about?

What does make a truly great travel writer?
Whatever it is, I want it.

One blogger in particular took me by surprise when they posted a brand new feature video. I thought it would be amazing and I was utterly disappointed when all I saw was someone in front of a camera for two minutes blowing kisses, winking and adjusting the camera with a little giggle while an up-beat tune played in the background. I asked myself, what on earth does this have to do with travel?

Like minded travel writers may think the same. Your blog is your space to share your travel adventures and to perhaps to give some much needed advice to your followers. Plus it is an amazing way to keep those you love in the loop about what you are up to on your adventures. There are some incredible travel writers out there and I am beginning to read what they have to say and realising what makes them so entertaining.

So many tales to tell.
So many tales to tell.

Although my tales thus far are about some of the crazy times I had in Europe and may focus on the little things in life that I find important, I assure you that I will continue to tell my tales and give you my advice as a novice travel writer. I will not subject you all to two minute videos of myself in my lounge with a tune in the background.

You may see a ‘selfie’ (self-taken shot) on occasion and if any video will be posted it will be one of me in an exciting place with adventure all around me.

This is my promise to you, my loyal followers.

La Petite Globetrotter, over and out.

The World is Your Oyster, Go Exploring.

Your Gap Year Opportunities Explained.

BY CHLOE DU BOIS 

So you have decided that you want to take a gap year after year 12 and not commence tertiary studies? Well, as exciting as it may sound, there is a lot more to a gap year than you may have thought. First you need to decide what type of gap year appeals to you. Your choices include;

  • A working gap year
  • Training with the defence force
  • A volunteering gap year
  • A travelling gap year

First things first, before you decide on which gap year most suits you, there is one thing you are most definitely going to need. Money makes the world go round, and unfortunately you are not going to get very far without it. Unless you are a trust fund baby and have a bottomless bank account, you are going to have to get it somehow.

If you are forward thinking enough to have planned and saved for your trip by spending your school days with a part-time job, then credit must be given where credit is due, well done! If you haven’t planned that far ahead, there is no need to worry, there are ways and means of funding your gap year.

The majority of the time, if travelling overseas, a flight needs to be paid for and perhaps the cost of your chosen program. This is where you can possibly turn to the people who love you the most in the world. That is right, mom and dad. Setting up a loan from your parents is much easier than doing it through a bank and they will probably be more understanding than a bank would be with repayments.

So you now have the money to go on your gap year, there are a few more considerations that need to be taken into account. As mentioned earlier the type of gap year you choose is very important, each of the gap years can take you to any location in the world. Where you go will certainly impact your experience.

A working gap year

You could teach English in a different country

There are thousands of programs that cater to any need with a working gap year. You can work locally, nationally or internationally. Most of the programs internationally require you to pay for your flight to your destination, and an initial fee for the company which organises the job. There are a wide variety of jobs available for school leavers including; camp councillors in The United States, a ski or snowboard instructor in Canada, or working in a bar in The United Kingdom. Programs vary in length from a month to twelve months.

There are a few organisations which are more recognised than others and they can help you decide which route to take:

If you do decide to take a working gap year, you will need to be prepared because it is not going to be easy. First of all you may experience a certain amount of culture shock. Not every country is like Australia, and secondly you are going to need to work hard.

The Australian Defence Force

Join the Australian defence force

If working hard is what you are after, join The Australian Defence Force, they pay up to $40 000 a year if you sign up. You can work for the Navy or the Army and it is a twelve month program. This gap year is a highly competitive one and there is no guarantee that you will be accepted, and if you are accepted there is no obligation to serve longer than twelve months. The Australian Defence Force website explains all the terms and conditions of your enrolment:

A Volunteering gap year

Helping those who are less fortunate is a rewarding experience

Not only does a volunteering gap year make you feel better about yourself  and allow you to make a substantial difference in communities that are in desperate need, but it also highly regarded by employers. Having experience volunteering can be one of the best things you can do in a gap year. There is never enough help that can be given to those who are less fortunate. You can do it by yourself or in a team with people you already know. Programs allow you to volunteer from two months to twelve. There are a wide variety of programs that cater not only for people in need, but also for animals.

Volunteering has seen a huge increase in recent years, and the cost you incur is usually only the flight to your destination. Most often accommodation and meals are provided. What you do need to be careful of is not getting exploited. You are required to volunteer for a set amount of time, but you should not be made to feel as though you are being taken advantage of. Another piece of advice, read up on where you are going, many developing countries have diseases you may never have even heard of, and if you are concerned it would be a good idea to consult your general practitioner before leaving.

A travelling gap year

So none of the options above really appeal to you? And you really just want to see the world with a backpack? Well then this is for you. Backpacking or simply travelling for a year will be an unforgettable experience. With travelling, either on your own, or with a friend, there are a few handy tricks to know. Firstly, plan ahead. Yes, the need for spontaneity and fun is understood, and by all means be spontaneous and have fun, but know where you are going and, at the end of the day, how to get home.

Secondly, it may be handy to have a list with a few important numbers. The Australian Embassy may be handy for after you were spontaneous. There are many companies that organise specific trips where you can travel around Europe, ‘Greek Island Hop’, or tour The United States, your opportunities are endless.

Finally, whatever it is you choose to do with your gap year, whether it be in working, volunteering or simply travelling remember to have fun, it will possibly be the best year of your life.

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