What is it really like being a Contiki Trip Manager in Australia?
Being a Trip Manager takes a certain skill set. You have to be organised, flexible, fun and a people person. We pride ourselves on having the best Trip Managers (AKA TMs) in the biz and not trying to brag, but it shows. Being a TM in Australia is quite different to leading trips in Europe too. For starters, the travel days can be longer than other regions, and the weather can sometimes throw a spanner in the works (floods anyone?), meaning a TM needs to be able to think on their feet. Australia TM Chloe Lindsay can do just that! Here she spills the secrets about life on the road, from Sydney to the Red Centre.
How long have you been a Contiki Trip Manager?
Give or take 7 months. Before I was an Australian TM, I was a TM in the 2016 European summer season.
How many trips a year do you do?
Over a 3-month period I usually run 3 trips, which equals 48 days on the road with 10 days off.
Best part of the job?
The wow-moments. To see my travellers so excited and actually shocked at how good their Contiki experience is.
Some of my favourites;
- The driver and I are on lookout at the front of the coach to spot wildlife, I point one out on the mic and travellers run to the side of the coach where the kangaroo is hopping in the paddock.
- The stars on a clear night at the Farmstay, pointing out constellations.
- The sudden stop in conversation when we see the beautiful Whitehaven beach
Those moments, and comments such as “Wow Chloe, I thought yesterday was great but each day just keeps getting better” makes the challenging times, preparation, nights out, it just makes everything worth it.
Worst part of the job?
Trying not to fall asleep on the coach, I love a good afternoon nap.
What’s the biggest misconception about being a Trip Manager?
Everyone thinks our job is literally a holiday. Don’t get me wrong, we have the best job in the world, but people underestimate the work we actually do behind the scenes; accounts, phone calls, timings, day sheets. Most of the time we are doing all our work in our free time which is when the clients are at activities, so sometimes it is hard to get a break.
Favourite part of Australia?
- My favourite part of the East Coast Tour is from Surfers Paradise to Airlie Beach. You have Gold Coast skydiving, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Brisbane, Noosa, Fraser Island, Farm Stay, Airlie Beach and Whitsunday Islands; all those bucket list items one after another.
- My favourite thing about Australia is the diversity of beaches. Every single beach along the coast is different and shows a slight variation of Australia. Nothing better than a sunny day relaxing on the beach.
- Our special stopover at the Farm Stay. You get incredible sunsets, a tractor ride around the property, animals, karaoke, line dancing, whip cracking, star gazing and a beautiful home cooked meal for dinner! The roast meal has loads of veges and the dessert is just like what my nan would cook, I always try and sneak seconds.
- Mrs Macquaries Point is where you get the money shot of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House!
Favourite thing to eat in Australia?
Ice-cream on a hot summers day is a true necessity, even on a winters day I could eat ice-cream. My go to ice-cream shop I take the group to is Gelato Messina, located just off Sydney’s Circular Quay. Or I can never turn down fish and chips by the beach!
What does a normal day on the road look like for you?
I don’t know how to define a ‘normal day’ as life on the road is very dynamic, but I’ll give it a shot.
If I’m lucky, sometimes I might sneak in a half an hour run before getting ready, otherwise once I wake up I normally shower, get my bags ready and get down to breakfast. In my mind, I’m thinking what is on today, my three day ahead and any other tasks, phone calls or paper work that I need to complete today. In the mornings I appreciate my ‘me’ time, to get focused for the day ahead. The driver will load the bags and when the head count is correct we gas on to our first destination of the day.
On the coach, the first thing I do every morning is play the day song which is continued by my three day talk. From this talk I can gauge how everyone is feeling from either the night before, excitement for the day or if they just want a sleep. Normally I’m pretty nice (or I think so anyway) and the first drive is me letting them do their own thing. Once we stop at services I’ll grab a coffee and fill up my water bottle, ready for the next drive.
Depending on the length of the drive, I’ll swap around with a movie (finding nemo), coach games (coach Olympics, love doctor, fashion parade), history talks, map orientations, day sheets, meal choices, or just a general chat. The coach is my office as well, so I try to get my paperwork sorted and use those long coach days to my advantage.
Once we’ve arrived at our final stop, I’ll check everyone into their rooms and hand out keys. I place my day sheet by the elevator and then dump my stuff in my room, sorting out tour documents and getting ready for the days ahead. To ensure I have some ‘me’ time, I might go for a run (if it didn’t happen in the morning) or have a nap.
If we have a me-time add on I’ll see those participating off and give in my vouchers, and I always try to time it to be there when they return (if I didn’t go with them!). If we have free time, I like to meet up with a friend or family member for coffee, which is a lovely bonus of being a tour manager in your home country.
Each night I normally have something organised with the group, whether it is an included meal or night out at the local bar, and for some reason everyone likes to see their tour manager on the dance floor with the group. I like to involve myself with the clients as much as possible as this is where you see the wow-moments, making the challenging times a little bit sweeter. But at the end of the night my bed is my best friend, until the next morning when it all happens again.
What’s the best part of showing people Australia?
I grew up on the East Coast, so this is my home, the place of childhood memories and family adventures. This job has made me appreciate that we do live in an incredible part of the world, and there are so many people in Australia who take the Australian lifestyle for granted. Clients on tour dream of coming to Australia, the land down under, and to be a part of creating that story, of showing them my home country is a pretty incredible feeling.
What surprises people the most about Australia?
You can walk around without getting killed by insects/spiders/crocodiles/sharks.
Your job in 3 words…
Dynamic, challenging, rewarding