Get to Know Kristy:

Our North America Product Manager

By Marissa Parkin | 07/12/2020 | Published 5 months ago


Can you tell us your position at Adventure World Travel? 


I’m the North America Product Manager, so I work closely with our suppliers and partners across Canada and the USA.

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Talk us through your career in travel and your travel background that has brought you to this role at AWT?


My first major overseas trip was when I was 14. As a pretty shy teenager, my parents thought it would be a great idea to send me around the world with a bunch of strangers. I went to the UK and USA for 5 weeks, including living with a host family for 10 days in small town USA. My host family, and the hospitality of the region made me fall completely in love with both travelling, and the US.

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I later spent two years in London on a working holiday and upon my return to Australia at the end of 2011, Adventure World was my very first job interview and my love for North America had me joining the team as a Product Coordinator within just 2 weeks of being home! After 3.5 years as Product Coordinator, I was promoted to Product Manager in 2015. I’ve now been lucky enough to experience 10 of the 13 Canadian provinces and territories, and around 30 US States.


The USA and Canada obviously have a special place in your heart, can you share with us the reasons?


It was my love for the US that led me to the role at Adventure World, but I was very quickly thrown into all things Canada, and it was love at first sight. Both Canada and the US offer so much diversity that it’s really impossible not to find something you love. There is so much more than the big cities and theme parks that most people think about. From snow covered mountains to sandy beaches, gushing geysers and calving glaciers, deserts to rainforests, the scenery is never boring. The wildlife, food, culture, and of course, the people all contribute to making North America worth going back to again and again.

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What sort of traveller are you, and what do you seek?


Wildlife is definitely a huge focus for me when I travel, but I also like to get outside my comfort zone and seek some adventure. Local culinary delicacies are always something I’m interested in trying, Texas barbecue was even more delicious than I expected and no trip to New Orleans would be complete without trying beignets – deep fried choux pastry sprinkled with powdered sugar – and of course jambalaya, a classic Cajun dish with rice, shrimp, Andouille sausage and okra. In Canada, I’ve also enjoyed bison steak and elk meatloaf!


Do you have a favourite trip you can tell us about?


That’s almost an impossible question, to choose just one favourite. I’ll quickly mention two stand-outs.
 
On my first trip to western Canada, I was lucky enough to go to a remote floating bear lodge in the Great Bear Rainforest, and spend days watching grizzlies and black bears fish for salmon. After a quick visit to Vancouver, we caught VIA Rail through to Jasper, and the snow started falling as we headed into the Rockies, which made for magical scenery.

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Another favourite is my first trip to Alaska. I was lucky enough to take almost four weeks to truly explore the state. A small ship adventure cruise of the Inside Passage began my itinerary, where we were surrounded by so many whales that we almost became immune to their wonders. I then took a two week small group trip through the National Parks, and spending the 4th of July in Wrangell St Elias National Park was a memorable highlight. Finally, I joined an even smaller group of 5 guests to travel up the Dalton Highway, across the Arctic Circle, and all the way up to the Arctic Ocean, before flying back.

 

Adventure World Travel offers many unique wildlife observing experiences, tell us about your favourite encounter?


I’ve been lucky enough to have some amazing wildlife encounters, so it’s hard to choose a favourite. One stands out purely because I had wanted to do it for so long. I remember watching Getaway on television as a teenager, right when the travel bug had first bitten me. They did a fantastic story on the polar bears in Churchill, and I remember writing that down on a post-it and sticking it next to my bed – the start of my soon to become very long bucket list.
 
A couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to finally make it to Churchill, and despite a turned around flight due to weather conditions, we finally made it and it was absolutely a dream come true. Seeing my first polar bear in its natural habitat is something I will never forget.

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If money was no issue, walk me through your dream itinerary?


It would definitely be a trip combining the major highlights of Alaska & Canada. Seasonality can be tough to combine the most iconic attractions in the region, so it may have to be a slightly extended trip! Starting in Alaska to explore the national parks, before a small ship adventure cruise in the Inside Passage surrounded by whales and glaciers. Then head to either the Yukon or Northwest Territories for autumn Aurora Borealis viewing, and to a floating bear lodge in British Columbia during the peak salmon run. Jump on Rocky Mountaineer from Vancouver to Banff and drive the Icefields Parkway up to Jasper. Finally I’d jump on VIA Rail across to Winnipeg and join a trip up to Churchill to see the polar bears!

 

Do you have a particular itinerary in your brochures that is a favourite and/or stand out for you, and can you walk us through it?


Another tough question - getting to create new itineraries for our brochures is one of my favourite parts of my role, so it’s hard to choose a favourite. These curated itineraries really set us apart as they are unique to Adventure World. But in general, any of our ‘Handpicked’ series is always a great option for those looking for the very best of a region or an introduction for first-time visitors.


Do you have any top travel tips for anyone planning a trip to the USA or Canada?


My biggest tip – you can’t do it all at once! North America has so much to offer and covers such a big area with some pretty distinct seasons, so it’s important to focus on just one or two regions each trip. Dive in and get a good look at a particular destination rather than spending all your time hopping from place to place with no time to really relax and enjoy it.

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Where was your last trip?


The Canadian Arctic and Greenland. Last September, I joined an expedition cruise through the Northwest Passage, sailing from Kugluktuk in Nunavut, Canada to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland in 17 days. We visited tiny remote communities, observed some spectacular landscapes, met some incredible Arctic wildlife, and learnt a lot about the exploration history of the region. We were incredibly privileged to be the first (and so far only) travellers to visit the active Parks Canada dive site of the HMS Erebus shipwreck – one of the vessels from the Franklin expedition that was missing from the 1840’s until it was discovered in 2014.

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If I could provide you an air ticket/boarding pass to anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and why?


At the top of my wish list right now is Africa! My love of wildlife has me anxiously waiting to finally explore the continent. In particular I would love to go visit the Gorillas – which I’m sure will be an incredible experience. I’d combine this with Botswana to visit the Okavango Delta.

Alternatively, a small ship cruise in Alaska’s Inside Passage is my happy place – surrounded by whales, otters and seals, drinking spiked hot chocolate while kayaking at the face of a glacier.

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Interested in discovering North America, the source of Kristy's passion? Check out our Canada Tailor-Made collection here or our USA Tailor-Made collection here. Alternatively, enquire now, call (AU) 1300 295 049 or (NZ) 0800 238 368 or see your travel agent to custom make your own tailor-made itinerary.

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