We’ve previously introduced you to our Reading and High Street Kensington stores and this week our ‘Spotlight on’ series continues with the guys and girls from one of our two Glasgow stores, this time STA Travel Byres Road.
They’re a lively bunch, and they’re fit to bursting with nuggets of awesome travel advice, and helpful tips to help you make your own trip super special, (as well as some awesome travel tales of their own!)
If you’re interested in their advice on how to make the most of a round the world trip,
or finding out what they love about their jobs or hearing what happened when one of them got stuck on a chicken bus in Bolivia, read on…
Time to Meet the STA Travel Glasgow, Byres Road Team!
Meet team Glasgow Byres Road
Lewis Alexander, 29, Travel Expert
Louise McGovern, 25, Travel Expert
Alex Gentles, 22, Travel Expert
Melissa Carruthers, 22, Travel Expert
Laura Mcleay, Store Manager
Kim Masson, Assistant Manager
(L-R) Melissa, Kim, Lewis and Laura.
What has been your weirdest travel experience
Louise: Sleeping in the aisle of a minibus for 8 hours (because we had been sold tickets for seats that didn’t exist), with an old man, some chickens, and a few of my now very close friends. We were on our way to Samaipata from Cochabamba in Bolivia. On the way back we managed to wangle some proper seats.
Lewis: Bumping in to the same group of Edinburgers at every destination on my round the world trip and spotting a guy from my village of 300 people in the Australian outback!
Melissa: Being locked in a shop in Cairo while the shopkeeper tried to trade me for camels!
Alex: I was in Coffee Bay, South Africa, and there was a perimeter around the hostel where we were staying to prevent Mushroom sellers from entering the hostel.
It was pretty surreal that there were so many mushroom sellers/growers that they were banned from entering this hostel, and there was actually a fence and gate built for it. Anytime you left the hostel, you were surrounded by people trying to sell you mushrooms!
Have you met any interesting characters on your travels?
Louise: I’ve been fortunate to meet many lovely, interesting and strange people on my travels. A poker playing shamen and an afro-peruano dance teacher are some of the more memorable, and just two of hopefully many more to come.
Lewis: Met an old German man in his 80’s in Fiji who was only 26 countries shy of visiting every country in the world. Safe to say the guy had a few stories.
Melissa: Met a guy who had a tattoo for every town he’d visited – he was covered in them.
Alex: Met a man in Jeffery’s Bay, South Africa, who was in his late 60′s, barely any teeth left, and homeless. Who had spent his whole life making and selling authentic South African bracelets made of different coloured string. Although he was homeless, and pretty ill, he was still bags of fun.
Kim hard at work in the store.
What have you got on your desk?
Louise: Our lovely new desks are clutter free, so only the essentials – a pen, notebook and globe.
Melissa: I always have a calculator and a coffee or Lucazade to keep my brain working!
What one tip would you give someone booking a round the world trip?
Laura: Do and see as much as you can, try not to be hungover for most of it and take it all in. Take advantage of any free stops that might be thrown your way even if you had never planned on visiting any of them.
Kim: Plan some trips ahead of time, and also leave some time to make your own way. Balance is important; if you leave everything to when you get there you may miss out.
Alex: Take out insurance – it’s important, seriously. Take out good insurance too. You don’t want to be the div at the back of the Kiwi Experience bus who can’t do white water rafting/a bungee jump/sky dive as they got rubbish insurance online. Cheapest isn’t necessarily best!
Would you be willing to share a dorm room together?
Lewis: No biggie! We are forced to sleep in a dorm-like room out the back out of the shop anyway.
What’s the total number of countries you’ve visited?
Laura: Between us we’ve visited over 60 countries!
What percentage of you have eaten Pad Thai on Khao San Road?
Just 25% (scandalous!)
Louise and Alex.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Lewis: Speaking to all different kinds of people. I am also fond of someone who comes in that’s initially quite quiet and nervous and by the end has told you their life story and is the life and soul of the party!
Louise: That you get to talk about beautiful and interesting destinations of the world all day long.
Alex: Best thing about my job is being able to send people to places in which I know they will have an amazing journey. We have the ability to potentially change people lives, or change peoples views on different locations, religions etc, and that’s pretty awesome.
Melissa: I’ve not been here long but the fact that I get to be a part of planning someone’s trip with them is great fun and it’s a good feeling when they book and go away excited and happy.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Lewis: City-wise New York City. What’s not to love about this place? It has everything. It’s bigger and brighter than anywhere else. You feel utterly insignificant walking through the streets between the massive iconic buildings around you. There’s a buzz and vibrancy with an overwhelming sense of warmth and friendliness from the locals, who always appear to love their city as much as you do.
Country-wise New Zealand. From consultations with customers and from my own experience before going, no one knows quite what to expect from New Zealand. All I can say is don’t try and do it in anything less than a month, and be sure not to listen to people that tell to only do the South Island. You will be quite literally amazed by the scenery, every twist and turn of the Kiwi Experience bus will bring a new beautiful landscape to behold. Anything you can think of to throw yourself off, swing from, raft down, the crazy Kiwi’s have already thought of it.
Melissa: It has to be Mexico. I loved the weather, the people, and the food!
Alex: Either Durban – incredible surfing city, like Miami, but smaller, with amazing pier jumping and awesome waves. Or, San Francisco – amazing musical vibe and the biggest china town in the world. What more do you want?