Ok, the World Cup is OVER, Wimbledon is DONE….not sure if any of you have noticed but summer has officially arrived. SO, the Push team thought it was about time we turned our attention to TRAVELS…#PushTRAVELS to be precise.
We are very excited to formally introduce our new residential travel expert and Push client Jack Duncan, founder of brand spanking new travel concierge brand Blank Canvas Travel.
If you are a travel junkie, wanderluster and someone who loves to see the world and discover new places then Jack is the guy you need to have on your speed dial. We picked his brains whilst he travels Asia checking out places on your behalf (tough job).
PUSH: Jack, you are the new travel expert on the block…when did the travel bug first bite?
JACK: I’ve been very lucky as travel has been a huge part of my life from such a young age. My first trip abroad was to Spain at 3 years old. Despite being too young to remember anything about that trip, you could say I’ve never looked back! My friends and family have called me a geography geek for as long as I can remember due to my need to research anything and everything about every country out there.
However, I think there’s always that ‘light bulb’ moment, when the bug bites, I’m sure fellow travel addicts will understand. For me it was on a family holiday to Australia in 2001. That was my first ‘real’ travelling experience I’d say, where you visit lots of different places in one trip – I just remember being in love with every tiny detail. Anything that was different from home I found fascinating. In Australia it was the wildlife. A moment as simple as seeing a Kangaroo for the first time, that did it for me.
P: Go on, impress us, how many countries have you totted up so far?
J: Well first you have to lay out the rules, no cheating – airport transits don’t count! So excluding them – it’s 49. Looking forward to that half century.
P: Scenario, we suddenly find ourselves with two weeks to fill in August and a craving for adventure. There’s three of us, we all love fitness and wellbeing but also like to have the odd fun night out and to meet new people….Blank Canvas instant itinerary? Not forgetting we need to rake some insta-smug snaps for our feed….where shall we go?
J: Might surprise a few as it’s not typically the time of year people go there but I’d have to say Vietnam. The central coast. That time of year the weather is hot (believe it or not it can get chilly there in winter), there’s plenty of sun and the perfect mixture of action and relaxation. If you want to chill out, you’ve got a beautiful sandy beach – if you want to explore there’s a million and one things to do. You’ve got beautiful, historic, Hoi An with it’s boutiques and yummy restaurants and lively bars, endless countryside with lush mountains, offering plenty of opportunity for trekking/ biking and like. Plus, the ancient citadel of Hue for the history buffs. And more specifically, you’ve got the wonderful Fusion Maia resort in Danang where every villa comes with a private pool and all your spa treatments are included. What’s not to love?
P: In-flight essentials; what are your 3 can’t-travel-without essentials?
J: Should I say passport?! I’ll go with my camera, a good pair of headphones and a book that has something to do with where I’m going, I find you build an instant connection to where you’re visiting that way. I’m going to assume my phone comes with me as standard (who can live without that these days!!)
P: Next scenario, our founder Emma Hart and Managing Director Greg Hart are family travel obsessives, they *may* have left it until the last minute this Summer – what’s your top tip destination for adventure, warmth and something to keep the grown ups and an 11-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy happy?
J: Not one that would instantly spring to mind as a family destination but I’d say head to the Seychelles for an island hop! It’s a really misunderstood place, whilst it is blessed with quite possibly the most incredible beaches I have ever seen there’s so much to it than just that. Each island has its own story to tell, its own vibe.
Start with a stay on Bird Island, it’s like something out of castaway or from the pages of Robinson Crusoe. Giant tortoises roam free and the beaches are yours to share with just 12 other bungalows. As there are so few people there at any one time, the wildlife have no inhibitions – I once saw a bird building a nest for its young within touching distance and it seemingly didn’t know or perhaps care that I was there. A few lucky clients of mine have even seen Turtle’s swim ashore, drag themselves along the white sandy beaches and lay their eggs. It’s so safe and so real – an experience the kids (nor adults) would forget in a hurry.
After that I’d send you to one or two more contrasting islands (who’s secrets I shall to keep to myself for now) with a nice chunk of beach of beach-time at the end to truly unwind.
August is great for families with young children who might prefer less oppressive temperatures (highs are usually around the mid 20s at this time of year) and a jot less humidity – plus it’s nice and dry!
P: YOU, where next? What will you be packing and what are your top three ‘to do’s’ on your itinerary
J: I’m actually away at the moment – so I guess I’ve already packed! I’m currently in one of my favourite places, Thailand, finishing off a few final bits and pieces before we go live with Blank Canvas. All rather exciting! Every time I come here there’s something new to see, get off that beaten track and see the real Thailand is my advice. Anyway, I’m off subject.
I’m rounding off this trip with a 48-hour layover in Shanghai, China (which, incidentally, will take me to the half century on my countries visited list). One of my favourite travel shows was by the late great Anthony Bourdain – ‘The Layover,’ for me it just encapsulated everything that I love about travel. Going somewhere and finding completely unusual things to do, unearthing your own version of wherever that may be, he was the master of it. So as a bit of homage to him, I’m setting myself the challenge to unearth 3 hidden gems whilst there. I’ll keep you posted!
P: Where haven’t you been that is top of your travel wishlist?
J: I have to pick just one!? In all seriousness this is a subject that drives everyone close to me mad – I am forever talking about where next and changing my mind. I love the unknown, places that aren’t immediately obvious – somewhere I can explore and uncover for myself. I am thinking South Korea next. In my opinion, it’s going to be a really hot destination in years to come and I want to go before the secret gets out (although, rather ironically, I’m not doing a great job of keeping that secret here am I!). I’m a huge lover of history, different cuisines and landscapes, plus a bit of politics – South Korea seems to tick all of those boxes and then some. After that I would say Brazil and then Gorilla trekking in Uganda. Told you I’m all over the place!
P: Finally, how can we tap into your expertise and become part of the Blank Canvas Travel community?
J: There’s nothing I love more than getting to know a person’s likes and dislikes, their motivations for travel – then going off and matching that to a destination I know they’ll love. I want Blank Canvas to be all about the travel – it’s such an evocative, powerful and personal thing, and for me it’s not something that can be done off the shelf. We are all unique and therefore our travel should be too.
I’m really excited about the range of experiences we’ve found so far and it will forever be evolving, as the world never stops changing. We’ll be releasing more and more info before launch so to get a sneak preview, sign up to our newsletter at www.blankcanvas.travel. Plus, I can talk travel all day, so whilst it might be a bit hard right now as I’m on the move, drop me a message on Instagram or give me a call on our office number when I’m back.