Mark is an awesome Brit I met surfing in Fuerteventura, who sweetly obliged me by talking about his recent travel experience. And I didn’t even have to buy him
much whiskey. 🙂 This is the first of many forthcoming interviews that I hope will help shed light about what matters to adventure travelers, how we make our decisions, what we read, what we are looking for, and more. 🙂
- Name: Mark Patton
- Age: 32
- Location: Oxford, UK
- What was your last trip, how long was it, where did you go, why, and what did you do?
Fuerteventura for 2 weeks of surfing. Well known as a location for water sports. I had visited a few months earlier on a holiday with friends and had liked the atmosphere on the island, so I decided to come back for a longer trip with the aim of improving my surfing level.
- How far in advance do you start researching your trip?
Researching was 6 months before the trip to decide between Peniche, Portugal, and Fuerteventura (or somewhere else).
- What kind of content helps you decide on a location and your activities? Stories and interviews about individuals’ personal experiences, how-tos, itinerary suggestions, etc.?
In general, Google is my first stop to get an idea of where the best place(s) to go for what I want from the holiday are. Once I know that, I start to look at websites like Trip Advisor or Reddit to read about the experiences of others.
For example, for this trip, the location was based both on a previous trip and a recommendation from a friend. The trip was solely built around surfing, and Fuerteventura is a very well known location for surfing with fairly consistent waves the whole year round. I was looking to maximize the amount of time I spent surfing (aiming to improve) so consistent waves suitable for a beginner/intermediate was vital for me.
My choice of Casa Carmen and Homegrown was based on a recommendation from a friend that had visited in February. In this case, I did very little further research once I had the recommendation.
- Where do you look for the information? Blogs, magazines, books, tourism boards, etc.
In terms of settling on the location resources like Google, www.magicseaweed.com and www.reddit.com/r/surfing are invaluable. Word of mouth, Reddit, Trip Advisor, and similar are also useful in figuring out where to stay and who in particular to surf with.
It varies if the trip is based around experiencing a particular culture, or a particular type of tourism then it tends to be a one off.
For an activity, if I find somewhere I like with the right amenities, I would revisit that place, for example based on my previous trip to Fuerteventura I could definitely see myself returning many more times to surf.
- What problems do you run into with research? For example, is it hard to get answers to your questions, are websites insufficient or inaccurate in their information, etc. What would you like to see?
I find the opinions of others is most valuable in terms of research either from friends or websites like Trip Advisor. When it comes to company websites, a big part of it is if that the website looks professional/kept up to date with the key information presented and easy to find.
Taking surfing as an example:
- What does a surfing lesson involve?
- How many students with a teacher?
- What is included in the price?
- If I have any additional questions, then it should be easy to contact the business to cover any additional points email, Whatsapp, Facebook or phone.
- What do you do on vacation? What is your aim?
Typically it is an activity, which at the moment is primarily surfing.
- Why do you travel? What is important for you to experience from your trip? Physical activity, connect with other people, experience the culture, take in nature, etc.
When I travel the most important factor is that I be able to relax and do things that I enjoy. While I am a sociable person, I do also appreciate my own time/space, so the ability to do things on my own and to really relax and unwind away from the pressures of day-to-day life is a very important point for me. Discovering new landscapes, cultures, and cuisines is another big part of traveling.
13. What has been your favorite trip and why? What is a memorable experience that has really stuck with you?
China. This was a 3 week trip. Week 1 and 2 were on my own, and I was based in Beijing and Shanghai. For week 3 I went to visit a friend in her home town, Jinan. This is not a touristic place, so I was able to experience a more typical China (especially the food) than in the big cities where tourists are more catered for. The biggest thing that stuck with me was going to a Chinese barbecue, which took place in a builders yard where grills were set up. It was somewhere I would not have gone without my friend, and let me see a side of China that I would not otherwise have seen.
- Does your research include blog posts or magazine articles?
Blog posts/online articles more than actual printed magazines.