A rather random post today on Don’t Stop Living as I reflect on the people who help us on our travels. You don’t think for a second that I do everything myself do you?? I can’t fly a plane and I can’t drive a bus and I don’t know the history of Chongqing. So maybe I’ve cleaned the odd bed in my time and poured countless pints, but it’s time to take your hats off and say thank you to these guys – my 10 unsung heroes of travel, without whom most of my travel stories wouldn’t exist. We use them, we need them and we love them. We take a lot of things for granted on our travels so it’s time to think about others. Thanks to my heroes! I give you the 10 unsung heroes of travel…
I’ve been on well over 500 flights in the last 6 years or so and I truly respect and say thank you to those pilots that have guided all those planes safely onto the runway. It’s a job I’ll be honest that I could never do it. I’m really thankful for the pilots!
2. Toilet Cleaners
I’ve cleaned toilets myself including diarrhoea and sick on the floor so I know what it’s like. But everyday on our travels we need to visit toilets. Whether the toilets are in a good condition or not, we are just glad of somewhere to get rid of our excrement, so whoever has had a go at cleaning them deserves respect. Thank you toilet cleaners!
3. Bin Emptiers
We put litter in bins everyday and while we try to recycle as much as we can a lot of it just goes into normal waste and fills up bins. Think how many bins are filled up everyday. I’ve done bin emptying as well on my travels when I worked in bars, theatres and boats and it smells bad. Your hands, body and clothes all need a good wash afterwards so I really respect people who get paid to empty bins. Thanks you bin emptiers!
4. Bus Drivers
On a long distance bus journey I just sit back and enjoy the views! Sometimes with a beer, an iPod, a travel guide book or even my laptop out. But the guy at the wheel is working hard – he is the one that deserves all the credit and respect. Never be rude to them and never complain. They are professionals at their job and are always trying to get you there in the safest yet quickest realistic way possible. They have homes and families to go home to after a long shift. Having been on some 24 hour bus rides on my travels, I have the utmost respect for bus drivers. Thanks for taking me across so many world borders!
5. Bed Cleaners and Maids
To all the maids and hostel staff who clean the beds, make the beds, vacuum the floors, sweep and mop those dirty hostel rooms, thanks for your contribution to my travels. You don’t know how much I want to lie down on that bed after a 2 day trip just to get there! Hats off to the bed cleaners and maids of this world.
6. Travel Agents
Although I organise most things myself, sometimes you just need an agent and you don’t have time to sort things out so you pop into a travel agent and get things sorted. I was a bit pushed for time last year in Vietnam and called upon Lillie Huang from Green Mango Travel in Hanoi who sorted out my Sapa tour, buses, trains and even Halong Bay for me as I was out checking the city out.
7. Tour Guides
Right so you get to a city that you haven’t researched properly and you’re then part of a tour group. What you need is a really awesome tour guide who speaks clearly, confidently and knowledgeably about the city you are in. It makes such a difference to get a decent tour guide with passion. In New York in 2007 I got a guide with Malachy Murray, who is the author of the book Unique New York. It really made me enjoy the trip a lot more. Thank you to all the decent tour guides who have explained things to me and taken me on tours to far off lands.
8. Border Stampers and Immigration Staff
Forget the views, filling out forms, applying for visas etc. Those things are part and parcel of travel and we get used to them and sometimes even buzz off visa applications and the excitement when a visa is confirmed. However the real heroes are the people who work behind the desk at those borders and they stamp our passports to officially let us into that country! They deserve a pat on the back. Having now been to 70 countries, I realise how important these guys and girls working in the immigration booths are worth now. I couldn’t go anywhere without them! Thank you for my stamps!
Of course my main job in life has always been a barman. It’s the only job I’ve had in every country I’ve worked in and I simply love being behind the bar serving drinks. I love it. Because I know exactly what it’s like, I also know how tough the job can be and how busy and hard working you need to be to cope. But I also LOVE to be on the other side of the bar ordering a drink, so I respect and say thank you to all the bar staff who have served me beer in the 60+ countries that I’ve enjoyed a cold one in!
Who could forget all the food we eat on our travels. It doesn’t prepare and cook itself, it’s the work of chefs. Chefs who know their stuff when it comes to serving up a decent sirloin steak or a chicken curry. Think of all that food you have consumed over the years and take your hat off to all those chefs that spent their hours cooking it!
OK so you’re thinking “you left out…” and yes we all have our own opinions on this and I know I have left out doctors, receptionists, army squaddies, politicians, tuk tuk drivers and postmen to name but six, but this is my top 10. I know those people all play their part in our travels too…
Perhaps they’ll get their glory in another post but honestly the above 10 are the ones that are the most heroic to me. They are the true heroes of travel. Me, I’m just a passionate travelling Northern Irishman wandering round the world. But I couldn’t do anything without these guys! Once again thank you to my heroes!
On a Final note here’s a Key Song for you, and an excuse to replay on old gem…
M.PEOPLE – SEARCH FOR THE HERO: