Meet Jann Parker, who believes travel can be a life-changing experience, removing you from your comfort zone and challenging your spirit to stretch just a little farther than you thought possible. Some of his most memorable moments have taken place in destinations that he thought he would never have the opportunity to visit. For Jann, travel has become a passion and he is dedicated to helping people create their own unforgettable adventures.
How did you fall in love with travelling or start working within the industry as a career?
Ever since I was a little boy, I had dreamed of visiting The Great Wall of China. As an adult, after experiencing many difficulties and challenging times, I realized that if I waited for the perfect time to go to China when all time commitments and finances aligned perfectly, then I would never get there. So, I just did it. I went and it was amazing. The people and culture was amazing. I was hooked and it was like a drug… I just wanted to see and experience more. With more than 20 countries under my belt, I decided I wanted to turn my passion into something that could help fuel it. So, I developed Travelinfo2Go as a conduit between the traveller and the off-the-beaten-path tour provider.
What kind of traveller are you?
I prefer luxury, but sometimes if you really want to see something special you have to take what you can get. If I had insisted on luxurious surroundings on every trip, then there are so many things I would have missed out seeing and being a part of. I believe in planning as much as you can to help avoid potential problems and delays but I know that flexibility is key when travelling because there will always be something unexpected that arises. It is important to be able to adapt.
Tell us about one of your most memorable trips?
I’m old enough to remember ‘Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom’, one of the first television shows documenting wildlife in its own habitat. Host, Marlin Perkins, breathlessly narrating the previously filmed action from the security of a studio always telling poor, long-suffering Jim Fowler things like “hang on to that boa constrictor, Jim! Don’t let him get around your neck!” or “Jim, there’s a lion right behind your left shoulder but he doesn’t look hungry so keep filming the antelope.”
Well, finally, after all those years, I decided it was high time I went on a safari and not let poor Jim have all the fun! Needless to say, I was not disappointed. It was amazing to see all that wildlife up close.
One time, our group stopped for a lunch break and I really wanted to stretch my legs after riding in the safari vehicle all morning. And I think our guide might have said something like “you might want to stay close to the vehicle while you are eating lunch”, but I was hungry and don’t listen too well when I’m hungry. So, I had wandered over to a large boulder and was using it as a backrest while I was enjoying the box lunch that we had been provided. Then I remember a shadow loom up out of nowhere and a swooping sound and a really unpleasant smell and my drumstick that had moments before been in my hand, on its way to my mouth, was now airborne, taken captive by a large vulture who was becoming smaller and smaller in that bright blue African sky. I picked myself up off the ground and did the quick Texas two-step getting back to the group who were quite delighted by the entire scene. I thought of my hero Jim and wondered how many meals he lost out on all those years ago.
That night, a violent thunderstorm erupted right after supper. Running to my tent to avoid the deluge, I kind of forgot one of the first rules of sleeping in a tent in the wilderness: zip up the entrance. This was a nice tent and it had a bit of an outer section where you can get cleaned up without going all the way into the sleeping section. So, waking up in the night I seem to hear not only regular jungle noises but also a more muffled steady sound. Almost like a heavy breathing and it sounds so close… I must be dreaming or hearing my own gentle snores.
And the next morning when the attendant comes to pour hot water into my shower receptacle he calls out to me… he is sorry but he won’t pour out my water until the lions go away. Turned out two young lions had found shelter inside the entrance section of my tent and had spent a nice dry night just a few feet from my cot on the other side of a canvas partition. “Um, okay, yes,” I told him, “you may go ahead and shoo the lions away for now.” He gently moved them along and I bravely peeked out the flap just in case he needed my help. I did have to sit down for a bit to let all that sink in and my shower water did get cold. But I knew that whereever Jim might be he was smiling and pleased that I didn’t limit my own experiences to what I watched on television living through somebody else’s adventures. I was creating my own and getting to know myself even better in the process.
What lessons have you learnt from your experience during COVID – both personally and in your business?
I think it goes back to learning that things don’t go as planned much of the time and you’ve got to be flexible and adapt or you might as well pack it up and go home. So how do you survive a terrible, terrible, life-changing circumstance in any business situation? Re-evaluate your market, your industry, your client base and try to figure out how to adjust what you are offering to meet a logical need. International travel? Not so much! Okay, so we have to dial back on that for awhile… now we focus on national travel, private jet charters, yacht rentals, corporate event travel. I’ve learned that being prepared for the worst financially is a really good idea.
Based on the five senses and thinking about travelling what do you…
- Like to see: A smile on a stranger’s face
- Like to taste: A protein bar I’ve packed just in case the food options are sketchy (I have a picky palate and don’t like to see things I’m about to put in my mouth wiggling on my plate!)
- Like to feel: Clean sheets in a comfortable bed after a long day of adventure
- Like to hear: “Welcome home, Mr Parker” from the immigration/customs agent at the airport
- Like to smell: Hot coffee in the morning
From Africa Travel Week