My guests today are a writing duo who will open your minds to the idea of group travel across the world. Their book “It’s NOT a Holiday” is due out tomorrow (30th November) and is the most amazing and hilarious A-Z guide to road travel. A must read for anyone young or old who may be contemplating an adventure across the world.
Let’s go and find out more about them;
1) Where are your home towns?
Andy: I am from sunny Calne, a small market town in Wiltshire, the West Country of England. Although perhaps describing it as sunny is a bit of a stretch and is why I found myself working abroad for so long.
Kirsty: I grew up in Weipa, a small and very isolated mining town in Far North Queensland, Australia.
Andy and I have been living in Calne for the last few years but we plan to immigrate back to Queensland next year; where it really is sunny.
2) Is this your first writing piece as individuals or together?
This is our first written piece to be published both as individuals and as a collaboration. We have both been writing individually for many years. When writing “It’s NOT a Holiday!” together we discovered that we approach our writing in very different ways and had quite different styles. It took a while and a few heated discussions before we found our groove – a way to write together and a style that we both agreed on. We got there in the end but we both agreed at the time it wasn’t something we would rush to do again. However, looking back on it now, the process was fun and we had lots of laughs remembering the stories from our time on the road.
3) Where did the idea for “It’s NOT a Holiday!” stem from?
We had the idea of “It’s NOT a Holiday!” for a few years before it came to fruition. On the first trip we worked together on, back in 2008 in South America, we realised we both had a love of writing and thought there was a need for a ‘survival guide’ for passengers travelling on group tours such as the ones we were leading. “It’s NOT a holiday, it’s a life experience…” is something we often told our passengers when explaining how they could get the most out of their trip.
We threw a few ideas around and made notes whilst sitting round the campfire for a bit of fun but it wasn’t until we were off the road and working in France for the winter that we fleshed out the ideas and put pen to paper.
4) You’ve both been guides or drivers on tours, can you tell us where in the world these were?
Andy: Ten years ago I decided to throw in my job and travel through Africa on an overland truck… and that really was the end of normality for me. I have specialised in long haul trips throughout the Middle East, Iran, India, China, around South East Asia and extensively throughout Latin America.
Kirsty: I was travelling independently in the Middle East when I stumbled across a group travelling overland on a big truck to Egypt. I loved the idea and signed myself up for a six month trip from London to Cape Town. I had a ball and decided that becoming an overland tour leader/driver was the perfect way to see the world and get paid for it. Since then I have been lucky enough to work in Africa, Europe, Central & South East Asia, Central & South America and Australia.
5) What’s the longest road trip you’ve taken people on?
Andy: Driving from Istanbul to Bangkok in 7 months was one of my longest road trips with passengers. However, by far my longest road trip would be driving from London to Mongolia and then back in a small 1 litre Ford Fiesta. Great fun!
Kirsty: An 8 month trip from London to Sydney was my longest trip. I took 32 passengers through 3 continents, 23 countries and had a blast. Of all my long haul trips, this one was the most diverse in terms of the landscapes and cultures I experienced along the way.
Our longest trip together was the one we met on – Mexico City to Rio de Janeiro. A 7 month trip travelling through 17 Latin American countries ending up at the biggest party in the world, the Rio Carnival.
6) What’s the worst terrain to take trips over?
There are lots of different terrains that can be difficult to drive through – soft sand in deserts, muddy roads in jungles and city roads packed with trucks, buses, cars, motorbikes, bicycles, pedestrians, horse and carts, camels, donkeys, goats and just about any other beast you can think of. But the terrain we enjoy the least is mountain passes – proper mountains, the Himalayas and the Andes. Driving at altitude means thin air, a hard time breathing and headaches. Not fun! Although to be fair the views are fantastic.
7) Can you list 5 packing essentials for any road trip?
Toilet roll in a plastic Ziploc bag
Multi-tool with knife and bottle opener
A sense of humour
Not necessarily in that order…
8) What are 5 items that people REALLY don’t need, but think they do?
Micro fibre towel
Trekking trousers with daft zip off legs
6 month supply of toiletries – these can be bought anywhere, believe it or not showering is a worldwide phenomenon.
9) Tell us your own choices of BEST place to experience if you only took one road trip in your lifetime.
This is a question we get asked a lot. It is along the same lines of our favourite places we have travelled. It is so hard to answer because we have so many favourites for so many different reasons.
Andy: If someone was to do only one major overland trip in their lifetime I would recommend one through Asia – the history and sheer diversity of cultures is mind blowing.
Kirsty: For me it would be Africa. There is something magical about going on your first African wildlife safari.
A road trip we would like to do in the future would be in North America. We have driven the Pan American Highway in Latin America so would now like to do the northern section including Canada and Alaska. One day! West Africa and Madagascar are also on the list…
10) Tell me what attributes I need to get voted as “best guest” on one of your trips?
The perfect passenger is someone who has a sense of humour, a sense of adventure, a can do attitude and embraces everything with open arms and an open mind. They will also be the one who has the most fun!
Are you coming on a road trip Rosie? Well…. The North American trip appeals more to my sanitation fears and my son wants to go to Madagascar! You never know!