Absolute Travel’s newest staffer Owen Gaddis on being a smart ass, the stampede he can’t forget, and what attracted him to Absolute Travel.
Use three words to describe yourself.
Easy–tall, dark and handsome!
A rarity in the travel industry! What inspired you to travel in the first place?
I think being somewhere unfamiliar has so much appeal. The sights and sounds and tastes of a new city bring up so many questions in me. Growing up in a family that loved to travel, my dad would often say ‘you guys get to travel more than any other kids I know’ and would try to instill some sense of gratitude in us. Being a smart ass 4th grader, I didn’t have a full appreciation for those adventures, but now I’m so grateful for being given the privilege of experiences that removed me from my Atlanta comfort zone at such a young age.
That’s funny you ask…I would have to go back a few years to really remember what first attracted me to Absolute. Ken reminded me of an instance when I was telling people that I wanted to work with Absolute at a trade event. Initially, I looked at Absolute as a fun place to work. I saw it as the “Google” of the travel world. You know, somewhere that the best and brightest were putting together these incredible trips and could bring their dogs to work. The second part of my answer is the staff. Absolute has one of the most dynamic teams in the industry. At Absolute, I have found a young, well-traveled group that really knows their product. In an industry where young minds are a minority, it’s refreshing to know that this office is run by people thinking outside the box. They are constantly striving to seek out the unheard of, up and coming destinations. This was something that was very important to me.
Tell us about your most memorable travel moment.
I’d say witnessing a river crossing of thousands of wildebeest on the Kenya / Tanzania border. The ground shook as the herd climbed up the river bank in front of our game vehicle. I can still smell the musty air and dust. Unforgettable.
What are some adventure-focused trips on your list?
Gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda, tiger fishing on the Zambezi, diving in Borneo, rafting the Futaleufú, and visiting Mongolia during the Naadam Festival are all on my short list.
The Alps, definitely. Not one region specifically, but in general. With so many clients wanting to go to Europe, the Alps should not be missed. I’ve hiked, skied, biked, drank (with moderation of course) and laughed my way through Europe and I love sharing its highlights and lesser-known secrets with my clients.
Central America. While Costa Rica is great, there is so much more to Central America that often goes overlooked. People go to Costa Rica and tend to say “Eh, I’ve been to Central America.” They are missing a lot. Belize, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, and Guatemala are so much more than what people think. Not to mention the fact that all are a quick and easy flight from the US. You could leave in the morning and be on the beach by lunch.
Absolute focuses on some pretty incredible destinations, no question, but sometimes the most underrated experiences are right under your nose. Just because you are heading to Utah instead of Bali doesn’t mean that it can’t be the trip of a lifetime! There are so many interesting places within a short flight or drive from where we live. Absolute launched Getaways which are quick closer-to-home escapes and I’m excited to share these destinations with my clients, from the Caribbean to Canada. I’d have to say my favorite region right now is the American West. It’s one of my favorite places to explore, plus the properties are insanely beautiful…Scarp Ridge Lodge Amangiri, Dunton Hot Springs, and Amangani easily top the list.
Where are you headed in 2014?
I’m planning a trip to Chile and Argentina now, and hope to fit in trekking in the Khumbu Valley to Everest Base Camp in Nepal this spring, then Bali & Indonesia in the fall. That’s a good start, and I’m sure I will have some last minute additions. Oh yeah, and St. Barth. I love St. Barth!
What’s always on your packing list?
I have a small “go-bag” that always travels with me that includes the essentials. Antibiotics, pain-killers, back-up passport copies, etc. And of course my Nikon cameras and a spare lens or two (depending on where I am headed). My sunglasses, a good hand salve, chapstick, extra socks for long flights and great headphones are always a good idea.
“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again—to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.” –Pico Iyer