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.