The Travel Corporation, Contiki’s parent company turns 100 this year! To celebrate this important birthday and our amazing travel heritage, we’re catching up with Contiki’s CMO Toni Ambler, as she shares her inspiring #TTCTop10 travel intentions for 2020…
Tell us about your role at Contiki…
Being Contiki’s CMO means I get to work with some of the smartest, cutting-edge marketers, digital and tech gurus in the youth space and in travel. The best thing about my role apart from my team is the impact travel has on young people, and that it truly changes their lives for the better. It’s great spending your days convincing young people to have a life-changing travel experience.
What’s important to you when booking a trip?
I always want to be a little out of my comfort zone… Am I doing an activity like snowboarding, surfing or exploring? I do love a lay on the beach but I start to get bored easily!
How do you plan on making your travel matter this year?
I plan on making more conscious destination decisions. As much as I love Venice, I don’t think I’ll make it back there again as places like these really don’t need any additional travellers. We travelled to Montenegro a few years ago and I really love exploring remote parts of Ibiza, or staying in little towns on the coast of Croatia that aren’t on the tourist map. You feel like you’re spending your travel dollars in places that really benefit from it.
Here are my 10 travel destinations and experiences on my list for 2020 and beyond, inspired by The Travel Corporations’ family of brands…
1. Visit Selina in Porto for the wellness vibes
Selina are a completely new breed of hostels offering wellness activities, co-working opps and healthy food all within gorgeously designed spaces. Their spot in Porto has this amazing communal terrace and they can organise so many local activities. Surfing, yoga, paddle boarding, e-biking and even reiki – I’d try them all, on Contiki’s new Portugal City & Surf trip, of course.
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2. Go on an epic safari
I’d love to take my family on safari this year. Xigera Safari Lodge in Botswana is opening in June 2020 and looks like an incredible experience. The lodges are raised up by the water, allowing wildlife to pass by underneath. Even better, the lodge has great sustainable values – from the solar hybrid power system (which supplies over 95% of Xigera’s energy) to the solar-powered game drive vehicles.
3. Experience Cuba like a local
The music, the culture – the cars! I think Adventure World Travel’s Cuba Libre trip would help me really get under the skin of the country. It’s a small group trip journeying from bustling Havana through the rural Vinales region and onto the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Trinidad (where you can learn to salsa!). Dreamy.
4. Embrace the latest travel tech
This year I’ll be packing more consciously and uploading a few go-to apps:
- Starting with Contiki’s new Pack My Bags Alexa Skill, of course. The skill reminds me to pack more sustainably, so I never forget my keep cup, Contiki water bottle or hair towel.
- I can’t travel without my Away suitcase – it’s chic, practical and has a charger, which always saves me in airports.
- If you haven’t tried the Refil app yet, this shows you where your closest water station is, so you never have to buy plastic bottles and I can refill my Contiki water bottle.
- Timeshifter is the BEST app to help you avoid jet lag, Tripit helps me manage all my travel schedules and Google Translate always helps me feel like a local.
5. Visit Patagonia and hike dramatic glaciers
Need I say more? Contiki’s Patagonia Trail trip is all about the jaw-dropping scenery, from snow-capped peaks to sparkling fjords and glaciers. This has been on my travel list for SO long and with a trip that includes horse riding and glacier climbing, I’m sold.
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6. Go snowboarding in Verbier
I go snowboarding every year with my family and it’s where my girls have learnt to ski. I still think it’s the best mountain for a mix of terrain, it always has great conditions, good powder and of course great après ski vibes.
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7. Support Australian wildlife
After the devastating bushfires, I’ll be supporting our Australian TreadRight Foundation projects, including the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors Hospital, dedicated to saving Australia’s many native species. The TreadRight Foundation is an initiative very close to my heart.
Earlier this year, all members of TTC’s family of brands committed to sharing TreadRight’s ethos as travellers, travel providers and members of the global travel industry. The pledge to #MakeTravelMatter, which includes travelling more sustainably, respecting local communities and experiencing wildlife in only ethical ways, is a vital one for all global travellers. You can sign the pledge here.
8. Try cruising for the first time
I still haven’t tried one, but U River Cruises (which are less huge-cruise-ship and all about the chilled-river-vibes) sounds like the perfect way to dip my toe into the cruising world. I’d try the Eastern Europe Escape trip, to soak up all the culture and history in Vienna, Budapest, Novi Sad and Belgrade.
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Supporting the Australian bushfire relief – how can you help?
9. Go to Lollapalooza in Berlin
Lollapalooza is one of the world’s coolest alt rock festivals and I’ve always wanted to go. Perhaps this year is the one. I’d go with Busabout as their trip also offers travellers the chance to explore the vibrant galleries, street art and bars of Berlin across four days.
10. Go surfing in the Galapagos Islands
I’d love to go back to Galapagos. Most people don’t associate it with surfing but it has some amazing breaks and more to offer besides the wildlife… although that is worth visiting alone! The Contiki Galapagos islands is probably the greatest travel experience I’ve ever had and I can’t wait to go back with my family one day.