Travel Confessions: Contiki USA guide Tyson Whitney
I know you’ve already heard all about my recent Contiki tour in the USA, but I still have so much to tell you, namely about our guide. Born and raised in San Deigo, Tyson Whitney is a man with a love for adventure, history and Anchorman quotes – as all good man should. His love for travel was born at the prime age of 22 when, after completing a degree in politics, he took up a job at a resort on the other side of the world in Saipan. Since that fateful trip, he hasn't stopped travelling. While on tour, I managed to take some time to quiz him about his job, adventures and where he wants to go to next.
How many countries have you been to? 43.
What would be your top 3? Nepal, Thailand and South Africa.
Best part of your job? I have the best office view in the world – and it’s constantly changing. I get to travel and basically love what I do for a living and share it with 50 new people every couple of weeks.
Worst part? Never getting enough sleep and never getting enough time to spend with family and friends.
What is your favourite Contiki tour to lead? I have two favourites. One is the Canadian Rockies which is the most scenic, most beautiful tour and with the most amazing scenery. And the other one would be the Grand Southern, just because you get to see so many different aspects of the US. It’s 26 days and goes through the South West, Texas, the Deep South, Florida and the Eastern seaboard. So it’s almost like going through different countries in itself where you get to see all of the different cultures of the US. On this tour (Wild Western) my favourite part it Yosemite. I just never get sick of visiting there.
Best travel experience? Last year I went to Nepal and did a three week backpacking trip on the Annapurna circuit, which included hiking about 15-20 kilometres a day and then camping overnight. For 2 weeks we climbed up to about 6000 metres where we actually got mountain bikes flown up to us then mountain biked down which only took 3 days.
Craziest? The Nepal trip was definitely crazy, mainly because we didn’t really have a plan. Most people doing the circuit we did usually plan it all out and hire outfits and guides, but we just flew over with one way tickets, bought two maps when we got there and then just got going. We definitely got lost a few times while we were there and we just had to ask random Nepalese people ‘ahhh Annapurna?’ So that was pretty crazy doing that on our own.
And then also I did a study abroad program in college that was pretty crazy. It was the Semester at Sea program where you spend 100 days on a ship with 650 other college students we went to 10 different countries around the world while taking classes. Just putting that many college students on a boat together – it can get pretty crazy.
How would you describe your travel style? I’m definitely into adventure. I’m also a very slow traveller too. I like to go and just figure things out. I don’t mind getting lost and taking a few days to figure things out. For me that’s half the fun of travelling.
What destination would you love to travel to next? Right now my next trip that I want to do sometime next year is go to the Galapagos Islands and then spend a month or two hiking in Peru and Bolivia.
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#Lifegoals right here: people cheering you on as you eat as much as you can with the possibility of a cash prize at the end of a bucket of fried chicken. The USA is the world’s hotspot for competitive eating, a legit sport that has its own administrative league and a calendar of juicy events.