What do you consider the most important part of your services?
Travelling with BEYOND removes worry and angst from any trip you undertake. We understand the delights of travel, as well as the pitfalls, and everything in between. We don’t want difficulties to deal with while on holiday and one of our main roles is trouble-shooting so that problems don’t arise. Of course, we take care of any problems if they do (let's hope not!) The main thing is that you don't need to worry, we sort things out. A smooth seamless trip is the aim of the game!
What makes you suitable and well-equipped to be a PTC?
My life's journey has enabled me to amass an eclectic set of skills that is ideal for this role. People and travel are my passions.
I have travelled with, assisted, hosted and cared for people from every continent and many cultures, as well as working with people with disabilities, from blindness to quadraplegia. I've organised groups of 100+ as well as small groups of less than 10.
I've back-packed and I've enjoyed 5-star hotels. I understand the nuances of travel - from the delights and luxuries to the pitfalls and hardships - and everything in between. I aim to eliminate the pitfalls and hardships!
I have a natural affinity with elderly people and a good understanding of the various needs and nuances associated with the inevitability of ageing.
I am flexible and adaptable as well as culturally and socially savvy. I have many interests. Conversation comes easy. Enabling a good time, wherever that may be, is top of my list!
Do you speak any foreign languages?
I love languages! I have a reasonably good knowledge of French and German, and a smattering of Italian and Spanish. I have a handle on the Cyrillic and Greek alphabets. Even though, these days, most people do speak English, and there are translation apps, it helps to know a bit about the local lingo and I enjoy this side of travel immensely.
Why did you decide to set up this service?
Throughout my travels and dealings with people over several decades, I noticed that some people, especially in the older age bracket, would speak of how much they wanted to travel forever, but they didn't feel they could tackle it on their own as they got older or more frail. Or they were continuing to travel, but it was becoming an effort and too much like hard work. But they kind of didn't want to face that fact.
Family busy, friends passing away, health deteriorating - travel can get put in the too-hard basket. It can become daunting, something you feel you can no longer accomplish alone. But - with support, it is definitely something that can be enjoyed - with assistance!
One such person was my mother-in-law Muriel (who features in the photos on the Home page). She was a well-travelled and independent woman but had got to a point in life where travelling alone was no longer possible. She often talked of wanting to go on a cruise so, at the age of 92, we headed off to cruise in Tahiti. It was a fantastic holiday and she remembered it for the rest of her life. She passed away in 2017 aged 97 and memories of this trip were with her until her dying day. This is what I want to enable for others who have the same travel dreams.
From this came the inkling of an idea to set up a service for people who need more individual support or prefer the one-on-one experience.
Sometimes the reticence to take the bold step and travel outweighs the desire to make it happen. I am proud to be able to offer personal and professional travel services to assist people to take that step. The thing is, if you leave it another year, you’re only going to be a year older when and if you do it. Leave it any longer and you may not be able to do it at all.
When did you get the travel bug?
I was lucky enough to participate in a school trip organised by my school (Epsom Girls Grammar School, of which I have been Co-President since 2015). The trip was for students studying German and it was my ultimate dream trip. As a young girl I had always fantasised about going to Switzerland but to be honest, that's all I thought it could be at that age - a fantasy. And then, at the age of 15, I found myself as Heidi! It was a truly eye-opening and fantastic trip, hugely ground-breaking at the time. There were 16 Kids, two teachers, many cities and a raft of life-enhancing experiences. We explored Germany (inc. East Germany), Austria, Switzerland and also visited London, Paris, Hong Kong and LA. It planted the travel seed, and I've never looked back.
Here's a summary ...
In December 1977, at the end of School C exams, we flew out of Auckland International Airport (when it was still part of the current domestic terminal) on a PanAm 747 jumbo jet and arrived in LA for the start of our two-month trip. After exploring Disneyland, we flew to Frankfurt and form there we toured around Germany, Austria and Switzerland. It was winter, it was cold, it was beautiful, but alas we didn't get the white Christmas we were hoping for in Nurnberg. We visited Christmas markets, we went to galleries, operas and the ballet. We drove to East Berlin through East Germany. We skied in Switzerland, we visited Neuschwanstein in the snow, we had New Year in Munich. Our bus crashed off the autobahn in a blizzard (we were all okay). We stayed mostly in youth hostels and small pensions. We were billeted for two weeks in Dusseldorf where we went to school - and I played golf on a frosty course with my host family. We tried to polish up our German. We then visited Paris and London before returning home via Hong Kong. We arrived back to the newly opened Auckland International Airport with many stories to share and a new level of maturity and worldliness.
I returned home feeling more enlightened and energised than I'd ever felt in my whole life. I had the travel bug big-time! I wanted to return to London as soon as I could and explore more of Europe and the world. That's exactly what I went on to do - I lived in the UK during the 1980s.