People & Stories

How one Trafalgar Travel Director is preparing for his first tour back on the road...

For more than 15 years, Tyson Whitney has guided travellers from across the world. But he’s never put in as much preparation for a trip as the upcoming tour of Colorado’s magnificent mountains, rivers and plains. It’ll be his first time back on the road since COVID-19 pressed pause on travel, and he can’t wait to show off his adopted home state. 

We caught up with the Travel Director about how his training has prepared him for travel in the new normal, why he thinks of Trafalgar guests as family, and the extra safety measures he’s taking so they can get on with enjoying the Centennial State.

Professional portrait of Travel Director Tyson Whitney

How long have you been a Trafalgar Travel Director?

Since 2016. Before that, I was a Trip Manager with Contiki and led adventure tours. I’ve been a travel guide for almost 15 years in total.

What and when was the last Trafalgar tour you ran?

The last trip I led for Trafalgar was the Colourful Trails of the Southwest with the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta back in October 2019.

Hot air balloons at The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

What have you missed the most from not being on the road for the last year?

Probably Yellowstone. I’d been visiting the park so frequently before that, I’d learned the patterns and habits of the wildlife. I loved being able to share that insider knowledge with guests.

RELATED CONTENT: What to pack for a trip through America’s great national parks

What are you most looking forward to about your upcoming Welcome to Colorado tour?

As corny as it might sound, I can’t wait to say “Welcome to Colorado!” out loud and in person. Not only because I’m excited to travel after the hiatus, but also because this new itinerary highlights many of the places and experiences that drew me in more than a decade ago. Now Colorado is my adopted home state, I’m looking forward to having 10 days to show it off and share the reasons I love living here.

GET INSPIRED BY: Welcome to Colorado

steam rises from the ground at Yellowstone National Park

Are you preparing for this tour any differently than pre-COVID?

I’ve spent more time preparing for this trip than my 10 previous trips combined. On top of the usual reading, research and calls, there are many new factors to prepare for. The travel world has changed and I need to re-examine how I operate too – what works best, how I can improve and how I can ensure the best experience while prioritising safety and wellbeing. I want to be part of the new trends in guided travel that will evolve from all this.

How has your Travel Director training prepared you for this tour, and travelling in the ‘new normal’?

Logistically, so much has changed, and there are still many unknowns to travelling post-lockdown. Being adaptable and flexible will be more essential now than ever before – and our intensive training has laid the groundwork for that. Spontaneity is part of the essence of travelling, but “winging it” likely won’t work these days. That doesn’t mean we have to follow a plan. Rather, preparing – and over-preparing – gives me the confidence, knowledge and tools to adapt to any given circumstance.

Men’s red hiking sandals in water.

What will you be packing for this tour to ensure you stay safe and well?

I’ve downloaded and made a copy of my vaccine card so I don’t risk losing my real card. I’ll be bringing my two favourite masks. Both are washable and comfortable to wear for a long time, like travelling via aeroplane or coach. I also have a box of disposable surgical masks as a backup. I have several mini bottles of sanitiser that are ok for TSA. I keep one attached to each bag, one in my pocket and extra in my toiletries. 

Colorado is best explored outdoors, especially now with indoor restrictions, so it’s best to prepare for the elements. A good moisturiser is essential when washing hands frequently in the state’s low humidity. I pack several chapsticks cause I always lose them, and two bottles of sun cream – one full size in my checked bag of toiletries and one travel bottle I can refill. The sun is stronger up in Colorado’s thinner atmosphere. It’s especially important to stay hydrated in Colorado’s dry air and high elevations. I bring two water bottles to refill throughout the day.

hand sanitizer being squirted on to palms

How will you take care of your guests on the road, while ensuring they still have an incredible time?

Safety and wellbeing have always been our utmost priority. While COVID may be new for us to deal with, taking care of guests on the road is not. I use my family – my parents, grandparents, siblings, nephews and nieces – as a barometer. I look at every situation and think: would they feel safe? Then, how can I make their experience more enjoyable without jeopardising that?  

As Travel Directors, we are trained not only to deal with health-and-safety issues but, more importantly, to take steps that help prevent problems occurring in the first place. This year Trafalgar has created the new role of Wellbeing Director dedicated to this. They care of your safety and wellbeing at all times, so you can focus on enjoying the real experience.

RELATED CONTENT: 7 unmissable experiences you can now enjoy in the USA with Trafalgar

Anything else you would like to add?

We can experience all four seasons any day of the year here in Colorado, so packing and dressing in layers is my travel tip. I have gone skiing and played golf on the same day in every month except for August.

Man and woman sat wearing winter layers in Colorado National Park

Thank you, Tyson, we can’t wait to join the tour vicariously!

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