In the early 90s, before hectic security checks at airports and when Delta Airlines in America offered a special of buying a ticket for a month that you could use as often as you wanted (on standby) I flew about 40 times in three weeks – sometimes criss-crossing the USA to avoid hotel costs and sleeping for six hours on a plane. I was also young then, happily surviving on little sleep for days on end!
And I have been lucky to have flown many, many more times. Sometimes for work, sometimes for holiday. Often, combining both. I’ve flown right at the back of the plane, in the middle seat, close to the broken and stinky toilet and I’ve flown in first class on Emirates’ A380 where I was able to take a shower before touch down and indulge in some of the most spectacular vintage champagne and wines I have ever tasted.
And I never, ever tire of getting on a plane. The joy of going somewhere, or returning home, is magical. The opportunity to experience something new. To learn. To broaden my horizons. Of course, when I am at the back of the plane, luckily my natural defences kick in and I fall asleep (hopefully I never lose the ability to sleep anywhere, in any position, with any kind of noise and light around me). If I am in seat 1A, however, I stay awake to try out everything. No, really, everything!
One of my favourite books is “The art of travel” by Alain de Botton. You can watch a version of it on YouTube presented by the author himself (of course reading the little tome will be far more reward!)
De Botton’s work “looks into the philosophical impulses behind travelling and in doing so offers a profound and often witty view of some of the deeper issues underlying travel and our desire for it.” It’s more about the “why” we travel than the where. I have bought hundreds of copies of this book over the years to give as a gift and often return to its philosophical wanderlust musings.
Like many seasoned travellers, I have my routines, my trip quirks, my tips for making the most of a journey. But the main point I always make is that travel helps me be less prejudiced. Experiencing the way of life of someone else – whether in the Transkei, Timbuktu, Tennessee, Togo or Trafalgar Square – I can’t but help to learn more empathy and to be excited by the diversity of humankind.
A few weeks ago I was in Mauritius for a short journey. The first half of the trip was at the Club Med La Plantation d’Albion resort (where I was, by a strange coincidence, exactly to the day, a year ago) helping to host a number of press professionals, travel trade contacts and influencers for CN&CO’s partner Club Med (CN&CO does the PR and digital marketing for this iconic – French – brand).
The second part of the trip was at the newly renovated (tens of millions of euros spent and looking amazing) Club Med La pointe aux Canonniers.
Both resorts provided the perfect opportunity to strengthen old relationships and make new friends (my new BFsF are Dominique Wolf aka The Style Coach and Jadene Tager aka PowerFM DJ).
I count myself deeply lucky with the relationships I have formed thanks to travel. Having met Barbara Milmine on the steps of the Melbourne Provincial Legislature years ago (in 1992?) we have spent many memorable times together in our home countries of Canada and South Africa, but also numerous other very special trips. I cannot wait to see her and her gorgeous kids in December in Kelowna, a beautiful Canadian wine region reminiscent of Stellenbosch.
During my Mauritius working holiday, I was also lucky to reconnect with Tony Schroenn – a classmate from Saints whom I haven’t seen for many years (decades!)
Tony and I stay in touch over social media (and with very differing views on politics, we share some interesting, contrary views with each other). Tony lives in Mauritius with his (Lebanese) wife and three kids. And that’s a another thing about travel – you meet people from all walks of life and background if you are open to it. Sharing a few beers with Tony, shooting the breeze about our fellow classmate Charles Savage from EasyEquities, debating the state of SA politics and more not only was (very) good for the soul, but led to some new business opportunities. Be open, be generous, be interested whilst on a journey and your life will always, always benefit. I guarantee it.
For the Mauritius trip, I had “put in leave”. A strange concept in my world as I work 24/7. And my personal and professional lives are one. And what I do for one client, benefits another. And when I am “on holiday” I read, talk and learn about things that benefits the work I do. However, since I am largely focused on EasyEquities, I felt I had to formally take time out – easily done with pre-briefings and having an amazing brand and customer engagement team in place to “get on with stuff”. To add to my comfort levels, I decided to also take out travel insurance – something I now increasingly do.
I used to not be a fan of travel insurance. My view was that it doesn’t really deliver value. And the one time I have actually “lost” my luggage thanks to a too quick lay-ver in Dubai, Emirates gave me cash and I enjoyed living with a sarong and two t-shirts on a magnificent Maldives island – with the equally magnificent Michael McCann keeping me entertained!
However, since my mate Joshua Nuttall started working with the Travelsure team from Old Mutual Insure (OMI), I have been doing more research on the benefits of this type of cover.
Travel insurance is basically insurance that provides cover for medical emergencies whilst overseas and can also include cover for lost luggage, delayed or cancelled flights and with innovations like cyber insurance (for your identity being stolen while travelling and used to blackmail you) and kidnap and ransom cover (remind me to tell you when Kate Turkington and I were taken hostage in Ethiopia by some Afar rebels years ago) this niche in the insurance industry ios rapidly expanding.
I like the Travelsure team under the leadership of Magcino Gule. Smart, direct, willing to share and learn (and the fact that Magcino won a trip at the bridal expo last year was a nice touch to my mind!).
The OMI Travelsure product is similar to many others in the market and you can access it here http://bit.ly/2KSQWfi . I took out cover for the five days I was away at a cost of R210. The cover provided was for R50 million medical (when I was hospitalised in Canada a few years back at a TED conference, my expenses were close to a million rand for the two days …) and also numerous benefits you will see described in the very customer friendly product descriptors.
Even though I say that the product is “similar” to most others, the Travelsure team are working hard at innovating this sector of the insurance market. With innovation comes a lot of challenge – especially when you innovate in a well-established market with entrenched players, self-interests and inflexible mindsets (just ask the EasyEquities team how hard it was to take on the investment industry when they decided to help ordinary people invest in the stock market …)
But Magcino and team are committed to providing the best cover for their clients. I am deeply impressed by how open they are to learn and suggest you give them your feedback after buying their product. I have no doubt that this is a team – and part of the industry – to watch closely.
As we enjoy a long-weekend in South Africa – where I think that we must not forget to reflect and learn more about the origins of our Youth Day holiday – chat to people who were there like Rev Dan from St Stithians or read here https://www.sahistory.org.za/topic/june-16-soweto-youth-uprising – I wish you all many happy journeys.
As Gerard Blitz, one of the founders of Club Med, famously said: “The goal in life is to be happy; the time to be happy is now, and the place to be happy is here!”