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Travel Confessions: AroundAbout app's Jose Bishop

Published June 1st, 2015

While most 18-year-olds are planning their first overseas trip, Jose Bishop has already lived and visited over 40 countries and filled five passports travelling with his family as part of Cirque du Soleil. Living and touring through North America, South America and Europe makes Australian-born Jose the ideal person to translate his experiences into the new app, AroundAbout.

 

 

 

Described as ‘Tinder for tourism’ and the brainchild of AroundAbout Founder and CEO Mitch Hills, the random activity generator will show people what to do, eat and drink in cities, launching this month in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney and Melbourne. AroundAbout Vice President Jose sat down with Student Flights to talk about circus life, travel experiences and getting around with just 18 kilograms of luggage.

 

 

What was it like living and touring with Cirque du Soleil?

My Dad was a dentist by day and a clown by night [in Brisbane]. So he applied for Cirque and got a phone call. Basically, we had two months to pack our entire house – I was eight at the time – and run away with the circus.  We started touring in North America for two years and after that, luckily, we went all the way through America, driving everywhere. After Canada, we went on the Australian tour with Varekai, which was really interesting. So we spent 10 years doing that – six weeks in one place at the most. Last year was the first time I was in a place for more than four months since I was a little kid.

 

 

What did you do while you were touring with Varekai?

The circus had a school on tour with four teachers and it fluctuated between eight and 14 students - children of the artists. We had these portable containers where we would build our school in each city and tear it back down again. We also used to travel as a family. I went down to the south of France for a month to work in a vineyard and did things like that. My parents were very active and we got to see a lot.

 

 

How many languages do you speak?

English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian. My Russian is conversational, I probably couldn’t discuss politics but I probably wouldn’t want to! My goal in the next two years is to learn German, Arabic and Mandarin. That’s more of a business decision because basically in order to do business in those places, you should speak the language.

 

 

What countries are still on your bucket list?

I want to go to India, Maldives, and I want to go to eastern Russia and Cuba as well.

 

 

You must have some good packing tips...

I have a suitcase and a backpack and that’s all I own – 18 kilograms. So wherever I go, even if it’s to Brisbane from the Sunshine Coast where I live for two days, I take that little suitcase. I hate checking my luggage because I’ve lost it so many times it’s not even funny. So I’m really good at packing - if I can fold, I like that better so it doesn’t mess it up, but there is a great convenience of folding and rolling.

 

 

What was it like to leave the touring life?

Memories jump out at you at a random time. A random memory or a smell or someone will say a word or you meet someone from another country. It ruins you for the normal world, but it makes you so much better. I’m really lucky to have gotten to where I am and there are a lot of people who go on tour with the circus and come down really hard when they’re not doing anything. They feel like I’m back to my normal boring life and that’s one of things I’m really grateful to work on AroundAbout is it’s given me something to actually take all the stories and the knowledge and use towards it.

 

 

Tell us about the AroundAbout app.

Basically, [it’s] a random activity generator for tourists. It’s for people who don’t know what to do. Basically it shows them something to eat, drink or do. Sort of like Tinder for tourism. We want people to be spontaneous and do more, and it’s not really just a slogan - it’s just truth. When you go out into that big beautiful world, you’re going to see so much. And that’s why it’s such a great app and I really think it’s going to help people. With AroundAbout it’s going to make travelling more fun and I love that and I love having that feeling that someone’s going to have a better holiday because they are using it.

 

 

Why should people travel more?

The great thing about travel is it pushes you to have a perspective where you have to look differently, you have to think differently. You can look at something forever and ever and ever, but unless you have perspective, you’ll never see it. I just want to say: go travel.

 

Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.