Being stuck in a dead end retail job back home in Melbourne Australia was no fun. However, it wasn’t until I was forced to take a holiday and I went overseas that I discovered this.
Like most Aussies my first overseas trip was to Bali in Indonesia, and I was hooked! I loved the food, the culture, the scenery, everything was so different from home, and that’s when I realised I wanted to travel more.
The following year led to my first trip to Europe, and that sealed the deal. Within six months of returning home I had quit my job, sold my car and boarded a plane to London. That was ten years ago.
Since then I have been lucky enough to work in the Travel Industry as a Tour Manager for Contiki Holidays, and most recently as a Travel Director for Trafalgar Tours in Europe. I love photography, all things Formula 1, and am an unashamed history nerd and coffee snob, (well I have been working it Italy for 10 years).
But wait! What about the other half of ‘The Smart Way Round’? Natalie and I met in Egypt, and it would be fair to say it was in Egypt that I met my match. Sitting under the stars in the Western Desert, discussing our travels, I tried to trump her with “Antarctica”, to which she responded, “I’ve been there too!” Well this was meant to be!
Over the last four years our travels and adventures have taken us all around the world, from driving a convertible Mustang down the Florida Keys to getting engaged on the Saharan sand dunes in Morocco to Lemur spotting on honeymoon in Madagascar. One thing is for sure, we are at our best when we are on the road together.
I had been lucky enough to travel will Mum and Dad over the years – from Kenya to America, Australia and New Zealand to Antarctica. I had been on some very exciting trips, however it was only at the age of 17 that I discovered my backpack when I had the opportunity to travel to Zimbabwe on a World Challenge expedition. After a month travelling round, backpacking became a firm fixture in my future… (Although ironically I do now enjoy the odd cruise with my parents!).
After graduating from university I set about fulfilling my dream to travel around the World again – this time on my own. A good opportunity came along at the NHS so I settled with that for a while. Just over a year later, my feet became too itchy and it was time to set off! Before the BIG trip, I went down to Antarctica and the Falkland Islands and then sailed down the Amazon River with Mum and Dad – quite a trip to kick things off! After a quick reshuffle of gear (ballroom dancing shoes no longer needed) I set off for a year, and came home after two years! My journey then took me through South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and South America and there was no going back. Traveller Natalie had officially flourished and was showing no signs of slowing down.
I still had a nagging desire to travel from Cairo to Cape Town…. and this time round I was a bit more sensible and took a sabbatical from work….. Six months off to fulfil a dream. Well out of Africa came more than a good photo album. Five days in and I realised I had met my match – Dean Smart won me over. We sat down and compared travel notes and it transpired that we had both travelled to 75 different countries. From that moment on our friendship got stronger and stronger. Since the trip we have continued with many weekend breaks (even if it is chasing my husband around whilst he is at work – one day when he has the 9-5 I will no doubt moan that these opportunities aren’t there!) and quirky holidays. Our honeymoon to Madagascar unveiled some of the most amazing species of wildlife, and my new found obsession with ‘bugs’!
Following this trip the NHS went through a period if unprecedented change, and so it was time for me to move into an industry I loved, and I took on a role with Oasis Overland, overseeing their South America trips. On a daily basis I deal with travellers who are excited about their own adventures – something that I love being involved in.
As I became increasingly good at travelling with me, myself and I, I used to worry how someone else would fit in. With Dean I met my match and there is nothing I prefer to do than travelling with my best buddy.
We have both been very lucky to have had the opportunity to travel to well over 80 countries each – now we are filling in some of the gaps and revisiting some of our favourite places to share the experience together. Our work schedules mean we are often apart, so we both believe that we need to grab these opportunities to spend quality time together, and why not doing discovering the World?!
‘The Smart Way Round’ is the chronicle of our adventures, however, whenever and wherever they may take us.
I just saw the item on Radio-Canada – CBC on the Trans-Siberian trip … It was just aired this week (January 27th) I have found your blog… you are now in Nepal. I’m so looking forward to read your adventures… from the beginning. What a great journey.
MH Vancouver Canada
Hi, Thanks so much for your message! We haven’t seen the finished video yet but are looking forward to it! We hope you enjoy the tales of our travels. It was great spending time with the CBC crew yet it feels like we have done so much since! Happy reading! Natalie & Dean
I just discovered your blog today after searching on twitter, on google, etc searching for you after watching a reportage in french, on Radio-Canada TV channel this last week-end. It was done by a Quebec journalist aboard the Transsiberian train! What a nice surprise!
I recognized your nice smile and I remembered you telling us about some of your “out of traveled path” trips that you had done.
We traveled with you Dean to Prague, Vienna and Budapest in April 2012. We were the only French Canadian from Quebec city travelling on an english speaking tour.
First of all, congratulations to you and Natalie for your wedding and I wish you a very good journey around the word and in your “new life”. I look forward to read more of your blog and about the rest of your trips around the world…
H. Grimard et J. Duquette
PS. If you ever come to Quebec City, let us know!
Hi guys thanks for the wonderful message, great to hear from you I can’t believe our trip was two yeArs ago. We have been roughing it a bit on this trip, so no nice Trafalgar hotels for us. We have had some great messages from people in Canada who have seen the CBC TV segment. Thank you also for the wedding well wishes. Hope to see you in Europe some time soon have you got another trip planned?
You’re becoming so popular in Canada that you and Natalie are bound to come back
As far as a planned trip for us, it will be in the Falls or later. Do you do South America…? loll We’d love to have you as a guide again. no trip this spring for us, we’re renovating the kitchen $$$ (bah!)
Hélène et Jacques (Québec City, Canada)
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So happy to have stumbled upon this blog! Dean had a lot to do with mine and my husbands love for travelling. We had the opportunity to see some of Europe’s highlights through an unforgettable Contiki tour eight years ago. Although short and sweet, our tour was unforgettable and our tour guide (Dean) definitely made this a memorable vacation that left us with a taste for more. I’m so happy to hear that you are still at it Dean. I’m sure you have graced the lives of many with your passion and knowledge of travel. Thanks for being a part of our travel memories…we are embarking on a different kind of travel trip in a few days….with our six month old baby, to Australia…any travel advice for us? Lol
Happy to see you met your match Dean, she sounds like a gem!!