To make great adventures, you have to have an adventurous spirit yourself. In my years of leading and planning group trips, I’ve done everything from negotiating a delivery of e-bikes at the border of Myanmar to setting up an impromptu camp in a friend’s backyard in Austin, Texas.
I’ve travelled to over 70 countries, but I still treat every destination as if it’s new because people, cultures and experiences change the whole time. Having that ability to go with the flow – an open-mindedness and certain wild quality – is central to those of us who curate standout adventures.
It’s not the kind of job you can just muddle through
Relationships and human connection are key to everything I do. To work as an adventure architect, you have to care about the people you interact with and appreciate the many different communities that you rely on. It’s not the kind of job you can just muddle through with zero soul but a good pay packet.
For instance, when I was starting out in the industry in Myanmar in 2012, the political climate was quite febrile and international visitors were a rarity. I had to knock on people’s doors with a translator, asking about the possibility of homestays, because the hotel infrastructure just didn’t exist.
That meant building a sense of trust with the people I brought into my network – and the same applies to the global partners I work with at Flash Pack now.
Radha and Lee were doing something different
I met Flash Pack’s co-founders, Radha and Lee, on the streets of Yangon, Myanmar, a couple of years ago. We had a few great nights out on the 19th – the city’s barbecue street – where everyone was outside drinking £1 mojitos from shopping carts.
What struck me at the time was how refreshing it was that Radha and Lee were truly doing something different from other travel brands. There was an authenticity and passion that shone through in their work.
Right there, we developed this idea to cycle to a nearby snake temple where there’s about 40 non-dangerous pythons: it’s this amazing place, linked to beliefs around reincarnated spirits.
I’ll start by picking three to five countries or regions
A few years later, after the pandemic, I found myself joining Flash Pack full-time as an Adventure Innovation Manager. I live in Paris, so I work remotely and a lot of my job – true to the title – is about designing new adventures.
I’ll start by picking three to five countries or regions that I’ve been daydreaming about. I ask these questions: What can I do there that’s not possible anywhere else? Do I want to see the Northern Lights? Do I want to camp in the wilderness? Do I want to discover a new cuisine? How does this place inspire me?
Seasons and times of year play into this, which helps me narrow down the destinations. I begin researching and learning about those unique experiences so that my adventure takes on a theme.
Local flavour is really important to our adventures
The special DNA and secret sauce of Flash Pack lies in doing something different and challenging. This might be a boutique sleepover, like staying in converted Land Rover suites in the heart of the Serengeti. It might be some physical feat that connects people together through the outdoors, such as hiking a Patagonian glacier and then sinking a cocktail with fresh glacial ice.
Local flavour is also really important to our adventures. Whenever I travel solo – which 95% of our Flashpackers do – I tend to stay a little outside a city centre or find a hub in a local neighbourhood. That’s where you get a real sense of the culture and feel of a place.
We obsess over how we can bring like-minded people together
It’s about being selective with activities. Just because we can do everything, doesn’t mean we should. Then, once the ideas start rolling, we can begin to bring our on-the-ground partners into the conversation. The fun part of my role is the ability to work with so many different cultures and people – including the amazing individuals in any single Flash Pack group.
The dynamic of who you travel with is so important. Some of my best escapes – from jeep adventures over the Salar de Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia to spending six months by the Red Sea in Egypt – have been amplified by the company I’ve kept and the friends I’ve made along the way.
So, it makes sense that at Flash Pack, we obsess not only over the quality of each experience but also how we can bring like-minded people together and create great shared chemistry.
It’s all about extraordinary experiences
Above all, my job involves the ability to mentally be in multiple places at the same time. I’m trying to create the best possible adventures for each destination in a wide range of locations around the world. It’s about expanding people’s outlooks with a diverse selection of extraordinary experiences.
I’m also looking ahead to see what upcoming destination is about to create a buzz before it becomes mainstream. Is there somewhere with a thriving startup scene or a movement of emerging artists? I think not just about the present, but where Flash Pack adventures will be one year from now. There’s loads of interesting places we have yet to explore and always somewhere new to discover. I can’t wait to take Flashpackers there.
Tino Roco is Adventure Innovation Manager at Flash Pack. Join our adventure-travel community by checking the careers page or reserving your spot on our latest adventures with other like-minded travellers.
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Images: Courtesy of Tino Roco & Flash Pack