Hi Travelers! This week I'm pleased to present another travel business owner local to Charlotte, NC: Megan Riley. Megan is the founder of Big Fat World Tours, and we sat down to chat about what she does and why reindeer burgers are where it's at.
Tell me all about your business. What do you do? How did you get started?
I started Big Fat World Tours two years ago because I noticed a trend in my life. I was taking lots of vacation and quitting high-paying IT jobs in order to travel. I realized it was time to try and turn this passion into a business. My goal is to take 8 like-minded individuals on unique itinerary trips around the world. I start with what I like to do (running and drinking wine) and put trips around those itineraries in unexpected places.
What are the advantages to guided group travel over other types of travel?
The advantage is little to no stress in the where, what, how, who, when of travel. Just pay and show up and I'll do the rest! Plus, I bring insider knowledge of having gone to a place 8 times. For instance, I know where to get the best reindeer burger in Reykjavik or the best glass of wine in Dubrovnik. Sure, you can find some of this stuff on Trip Advisor but I generally don't trust many of those reviews anymore.
How do you choose the travel destinations for your clients?
I take things that I like and turn them into a trip. If you aren't passionate about the itinerary, it will show. What is an unusual spin on Croatia? A wine trip through Croatia's islands. This trip combines fun for the wine lovers with the sea for the beach folks.
What is the one place you've been that is less popular that you think travelers should check out? Why?
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro are amazing countries with virtually no American tourism. They are popular with tourists from other countries, just not with Americans yet.
What is your advice for folks who lament not having enough time and/or money to travel?
You put your money & time where your priorities are so I get why people don't travel as much as they could. I just don't like hearing, "you are so lucky that you get to go to all these places" or "I wish I could travel as much as you do." If you make it a priority, you can and will. Plus, travel is a lot cheaper than people think it is... who says you need to stay in a $100 night hotel to have a good time?
What is your advice for first time travelers, who might be a little nervous about leaving the country?
People are all the same, no matter if you go to Europe, the Middle East or South America, people are gracious, kind and helpful and you will be surprised by their generosity. However, you should always listen to your gut. If you feel like something is off, then don't get into the cab or walk down that dark street. I tend to feel safer in most European countries than I do walking in many American cities. Also, research the most popular scams happening in any big city you are going to. Its good to know how and where people will try and cheat you.
What do you think is the future of travel? The next big place or trend that you think travelers will by dying to try?
There are about 2 billion tourists hitting the road every year, its putting an enormous strain on many of the more traditionally popular places like Venice, Florence, Paris, Barcelona. I like to seek out places that have no tourism or no American tourism. I gauge it by how many people I know that have been there. It used to be Iceland, now everyone knows someone who is going or has gone there in the past 12 months. Croatia is becoming the new Iceland in popularity... over the next 2 years, you are going to hear about his place more and more. After that, I am thinking Albania, Colombia, Tanzania and Argentina are going to be high on my personal radar.