On March 8, communities around the globe will celebrate International Women's Day by recognizing the value, power, and achievements of women across the world, while acknowledging the work that still needs to be done as we strive towards a fair and equitable society. This week on the G Adventures blog, we'll be looking at stories of women in travel, from game-changers to those who have been empowered by travel as a force for good. Here, we talk to three G Adventures CEOs — the guides who are the central backbone of all our tours — about why they do what they do.
Q: Why did you want to become a G CEO?
A: I studied tourism, and I’ve been working in tourism since 2007. Here, the first thing I’ve noticed is that it matches my personal values. And the first time I visited a Planeterra project I though, “ok. This makes sense.” You can really feel the values on the road.
Q: Can you tell me one of your favourite stories from the road?
I did one trip, it was really long — from La Paz to Rio — and there were these girls on the trip that I really bonded with. The thing about this trip is, for the first half of the trip, you’re dressed in layers; for the second half, it’s hot. There was one girl, she was a little bit chubby, and she had all these concerns about her weight. By the time we hit the beach, she was crying every night. She said, “I don’t want to put a swimsuit on, because all these other girls are so beautiful.” It got to a point that she was really considering going home. She recovered, she bought a swimsuit, and that night, there was a party on the beach. The man approached me and said, explain to her that I’m not trying to be aggressive, but I really think that she’s beautiful. She ended up staying there for a month — with this guy!
Q: Do you keep in touch with your passengers?
A: Not everyone. I have some that have become friends. One thing about our trips is that we don’t just change passengers’ lives, but they change ours, as well.
Q: Can you tell me about a time when something was about to go wrong, and you fixed it?
A: Once, I had a guy on one of my trips who was really into dinosaurs. The whole reason he was there was because there’s a rock wall in a park in Sucre, Bolivia, with dinosaur footprints on it. He wanted to see that wall. On the second last day of the trip, we got there, and the park was closed. Imagine! And at that point, it wasn’t just him — we were 13 days in the trip, and he had been talking about it the whole time, so everyone wanted to go. I started making phone calls like crazy. I spent basically a whole day on the phone. Long story short, we ended up finding the first guide that that dinosaur park had — and she happened to be free that day. She came to the hotel, she stopped a bus in the street, bribed the bus driver to go off route, drove to the park, we stood on the other side of the fence from the wall, and she explained the wall to everyone. And while she was explaining, someone saw there was a hole in the fence — so we went through after all! The guy was losing his mind.
Q: What’s one thing you think people forget to pack?
A: An open mind! And I’m not just talking about race, or sexuality, but about completely different ways of living.
From: The United States of America
Q: Why did you become a CEO?
A: I used to live for New York City, and I was working as a travel agent. I was the youngest manager at the time, so my boss asked me to go and check out a G 18-to-thirtysomething trip. I used to think that group tours weren’t for me, but it changed my life. The whole group element, meeting all these like-minded travellers, and doing homestays — I just thought, this is an amazing company. And when you add Planeterra, it’s just a completely different type of company than anyone I’d ever heard of. When I came back, I messaged my sales rep at G and said, I want to work for G, what do you recommend? He said, right now, we’re only hiring for CEOs. And here I am.
Q: What’s your favourite tour to lead?
A: They’re all so different. The Pacific Northwest has incredible national parks, but I love our 18-to-thirtysomething cross-country trip.
Q: Do you regularly keep in touch with the passengers you meet?
A: For sure. As it’s gone on, it’s harder. On every single trip, I have a handful who want me to come visit them in their country.
Q: What’s your most memorable story from the road?
A: My third trip ever with G, I was doing the cross-country northern U.S. trip. The day before we left, all of mine and the other CEO’s luggage got stolen. I literally just had my phone in my pocket. My boss said, why don’t you take this as an opportunity to buy the craziest shirt you can everywhere you go? So I started doing it. And once I told the group that’s what I was doing, it turned into a thing that they started participating in it, looking for shirts for me. Once we got to South Dakota, they decided that if I had to wear these crazy shirts, they were doing to do it too. So we bought all these tie-dyed shirts, and we went the rest of the trip in these matching tops. It kind of became my thing — and it still happens now.
Q: Have you ever had something happen on the road that went poorly, that you were able to fix?
A: I’ve had couples break up! That never goes well.
Q: What’s your favourite thing about the job?
A: For me, going on a G trip changed my life. Being able to give that back to people is what I’m most passionate about.
Q: Why did you become a CEO?
A: At the time, I needed a change in my career, but also in my life. I wanted to breathe new air, meet new people, find a new way to express myself. Like lots of people do, I made a list of the jobs I could do. I thought: I like to travel, I'm pretty good on that, so a tour leader could be a fit for me. Then I found G Adventures online, and I loved the fact that they didn’t ask for the classical CV, but instead I had to answer creative questions. I loved it.
Q: What is one important lesson you have learned from a traveller?
A: I always say that every traveller has taught me something. There was a woman who took a trip after a separation from her husband, but her energy and her enthusiasm for everything and everybody taught me how important is to overcome the pain and embrace everything life offers you.
Q: What is the most memorable experience you have had on the road?
A: Being a CEO gives you the chance to do crazy stuff, but one thing I love to do every times I can is watch the sunset in Florence. I like to buy wine and food, and take the group there to wait for the sun to perform.
Q: Why is travel important to you?
A: Travelling for me is oxygen, and it gives you the chance to see the same thing from different perspective. The more you travel, the more you home grows. But it's not always is easy or comfortable. Sometimes, you bring with your own culture with you, and you try to follow the rules you would follow at home, but that's like putting a square peg into a round hole. Travelling is freedom to be, the freedom to know yourself, to discover your limits, and go out of your comfort zone. Travelling is diving into your life, and feeling life with all your body.