After finishing up school, Billy Stewart took on a carpentry apprenticeship.
But soon enough, he got bored, and realized the trade just wasn't for him.
"Back in 2005 I got the travel bug after backpacking through Thailand and Cambodia," Stewart recalls. "So, I applied to become a travel agent, and the rest is history."
Now, Stewart, who lives in Vancouver, B.C., works as a global purpose specialist (GPS) for G Adventures, where his main objective is to educate everybody about the company and its products, and provide as much support as possible.
This week, PAX checks in with Billy to learn more about that time he was mistaken for a rockstar, the one country that has a special place in his heart, and an unnerving talent he can do on command—but prefers not to.
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Billy Stewart (BS): Chewing gum, noise cancelling headphones and a pen.
PAX: What are some of your favourite vacation spots?
BS: Nepal is by far my favourite country The Himalayas are unrivalled in terms of sheer physical beauty and size. They change people. Barcelona is one of the most vibrant, cool and fun cities on the planet with so much art and culture. Not to mention tapas. Vietnam. I have lived there twice now, and it has a special place in my heart. The food, the incredible varying landscapes make it one of my favourites.
PAX: What’s your favourite airport and why?
BS: Singapore. Just a modern marvel. It was always a beautiful airport, but now with Jewel Changi, it is like being placed into a scene of Avatar. The shopping is the best anywhere as well.
PAX: What do you love about your job? The travel industry?
BS: Changing peoples lives and sharing my stories. I love the travel industry because I feel travel is one of the best educations a person can get. And the people who work in the industry are all so eager to help transform people's lives.
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever?
BS: Thailand and Cambodia. It was my first time overseas, and it was with my best mate. We got into some interesting situations, met some amazing people and had a life altering experience. After that trip, my path was changed forever.
PAX: What’s the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on a trip?
BS: Gorilla Trekking in Uganda. But it has been the best single thing I have ever done whilst travelling. I urge any animal lover to visit these majestic creatures while you can!
PAX: Most memorable food/meal you ever ate while travelling and where you ate it?
BS: A tiny Italian restaurant in Malapascua, Philippines. It is an island with no cars, and very few people. We went to this beautiful Italian restaurant on a cliffside and the dessert is the best thing I have tasted whilst travelling. It was a mango infused tiramisu.
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
BS: Ignorance of tourists.
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
BS: My eyes change colour, from blue to hazel. I can dislocate my shoulder on command. But prefer not to.
PAX: When flying, window shade up or down?
BS: Down. Sleep time. Unless we are flying over a mountain range or some geological marvel.
PAX: What's your funniest travel anecdote?
Being mistaken for a Turkish rock star whilst on a trip in Turkey, and my local guide ran with it. At each place we visited, he pretended to be my personal bodyguard. He taught me a few basic words to reply to my ‘fans’ and I think I posed for at least 100 photos in about five days.
PAX: What are a few things travel agents should be aware of right now in regards to G Adventures?
BS: Our incredible foundation, Planeterra. We’re not just a travel company, but a social enterprise.
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