Lyn Taylor, Adventurer & Guide
Ever dreamt of quitting your day job and travelling the world? What if that was your day job? Meet Lyn Taylor of Lyn Taylor's Adventure Travel.
Our Manly: How has "women's only" travel evolved? Was there even such a thing when you began travelling?
Lyn Taylor: When I ventured into the travel business 18 years ago there was not such a thing as women’s group travel. Women traveled alone, particularly in foreign countries. I remember my sister when she was 19 (she is now 66) bought a passage on a ship to the UK and traveled for 12 months through Europe and the UK. Of course then it was a lot safer than today and I think that is the reason why women now prefer to travel in group as there is a level of safety in numbers.
Our Manly: How does it empower women?
Lyn Taylor: Women usually have similar interests in food, fashion, wine, indulgences or just a particular culture. They band together to tackle their fears by nurturing and pampering themselves. They want to share their experiences with their female friends and basically give themselves a new taste of life.
Sustainable Travel & Eco Tourism
Our Manly: If the appeal of a destination comes from its natural wonders, like coral reefs, native cultures, unspoiled wilderness, how do you justify visiting them? Even sensitive travel leaves a mark. A failure to preserve them or visit with extreme care will rob future generations of the experience.
Lyn Taylor: If no one visited these countries because they felt that they may be destroyed environmentally by tourism then the people from that particular country will suffer from loss of income through tourism. We as tourists would also suffer by not seeing a natural wonder that God created and of course wanted us to experience.
The economy of many poor countries could not afford to preserve its nature, culture, etc. without the assistance of tourism. If tourism is going to aid a third world country's progress then I think it is a good idea, as long as the tourism board in that country works with the government to preserve the environment.
I also feel that the tour operator should research sensitive travel in each country that they are planning to take groups to. They should make their clients aware of environmental issues before departure. There are too many companies and trekkers who go into trekking areas oblivious to what is happening around them.
What I would love to see is a percentage of profits from a tour go into a fund to help keep the environment of that country intact. Realistically though, I think that people can assist in a small way by joining or researching and visiting private organizations in that particular country. For example in Nepal there is KEEP (Kathmandu Educational and Environmental Project), a private, self funded organization relying on donations from tourists visiting the country.
Our Manly: Should indigenous cultures be preserved simply for the sake of Western travellers?
Lyn Taylor: Absolutely not. In my experience when speaking with indigenous peoples and asking a question like, “Would you prefer to wear western clothes or your own cultural dress?” 90% say they want to retain their own culture by wearing the traditional attire.
I remember once I asked one of my Nepalese staff the question, “What do you prefer an arranged marriage or a love marriage?” His marriage was arranged at the age of 16. He answered, “Arranged marriage because a love marriage does not last!” He believed that you work much harder to hold onto an arranged marriage to keep the family unity where as in a love marriage it is easy to walk away.
Price Is Long Forgotten after the Experience Is Remembered
Our Manly: Poor quality service; itineraries which include excessive shopping; attractions whose natural beauty suffers from visual and environmental pollution; the destruction of indigenous culture through creeping globalisation. Travel comes with a lot of risks and costs. What makes for a great vacation that well travelled, eco-positive, educated folks can really enjoy? How does Lyn Taylor's Adventure Travel ensure each itinerary is worth the investment?
Lyn Taylor: Lyn Taylor’s Adventure Travel does not impact on a country negatively by taking large groups. Our groups range from 4 – 15 people. I am against large groups as they definitely have a negative impact on a country. We use local operators in each country, hotels and lodges that are environmentally friendly, and on camping trips we stay away from crowded campsites to lessen the impact on the area.
Our Manly: Used to be common for folks to visit theme parks and man-made attractions. Now experiential travel and nature based tourism is popular. What is "Adventure Travel" and who can participate?
Lyn Taylor: Adventure travel can be your first experience on a bus or train. It is all about stepping beyond your boundary. Anyone can participate in Adventure Travel providing you are guided to the right tours that will suit your attitude and level of fitness. It is no good booking a trip to climb Mount Everest when you have never put on a backpack. I also believe that adventure travel is 60% mental ability and 40% fitness.
How Does Travel Change Us?
Our Manly: How does travel benefit children and young adults?
Lyn Taylor: Travel definitely changes people from the young to the old. I believe that all western teenagers should visit a country such as Nepal. Today’s Gen X over indulges in technology, they need to get out and see what I call the real world before it is too late. Holidays abroad change kids, they see things that they take for granted, they may ask “Why do these people have no furniture? They have a dirt floor, where is their carpet?” They also comment on how people at home don’t smile at you the same way. I really believe that it broadens not only children’s attitudes but adults as well. Travel makes people less selfish, have greater compassion and become less self-centered.
Our Manly: Sometimes it takes an outward journey to reveal an inward truth. Describe, if you can, a moment and place when something like this happened to you.
Lyn Taylor: I remember about 5 years ago I was sitting having a chai tea in a local café in Bhaktapur Nepal. My friend and I were sitting on the rooftop restaurant which had fantastic views of the Niapotola Temple - it is a 3 story pagoda style building which has 3 levels. We were watching the local children playing on the 2nd level when we were horrified to see a child fall from the second level to the first, approximately 3m and land on his head. I remember I jumped up and ran to where the boy was lying and seeing all of these people just hovering over him staring. Nobody assisted, they did not know what to do to help.
I had just recently completed my Wilderness First Aid course so I went through the emergency procedure, but the boy’s brother ran over and tried to take the boy home. He was literally just going to drag him. Fortunately, with the help of a Nepalese man who spoke English we managed to contain the boy’s brother, but an ambulance was out of the equation so we managed to get a car and put the boy in the car with the Nepalese man and he was taken to the nearest hospital which was around 30 minutes away. To this day I do not know what happened to the boy and twice a year when I visit that temple, I think to myself, “Did he die or survive?” It made me realize how vulnerable some people are and what we can do to help them.
That year I went home and decided that I was going to make an impact on these people whether it is in health, education or environmental issues. I chose education (or rather, it chose me) and if you visit my website, or follow this link to >>School Charity Work you can read how it all evolved. Today, I feel very humbled to have been able to help all of these children get a better education.
Our Manly: How do you react when you see a transformation happen to someone you're guiding? Is there an occasion you can describe?
Lyn Taylor: In 1998 I took a small group on the Manaslu and Annapurna Circuit. One of the clients, a male, was planning to climb 2 peaks in the Annapurna area. His partner decided she would like to join the trip and before we departed Australia her partner told me that she had a fear of heights and bridges.
On this particular trek there were 16 bridge crossings. I remember on Day 1 when we came to the first bridge it was what you would call a creek bridge, not a big drop and very little water under the bridge but it was a wooden, old bridge. She freaked out but we managed to get her across without much problem and after that with every bridge we came to she became more confident until on about day 10 of a 30 day trek we came across a bridge that even I or her partner did not want to attempt. It was post monsoon and a tree had fallen and broken one side of the cable which left the bridge hanging on a peculiar angle. The only options were to go back the same way and abandon the trek or try to cross the bridge. I was more concerned about our porters as they were carrying loads of 25 kg.
Our guide who is very strong and obviously not to be deterred went first. Then it was our turn so we decided that my client would go first with her partner and the guide so they roped up and she set out on what must have been the most challenging thing she had ever attempted in her life. After an agonizing 10 minutes they were on the other side. I finally made it to the other side and felt relieved but also exhilarated that I had actually achieved the crossing, so can you imagine how my client must have felt! Ten days before she could hardly cross a creek bridge and here she was crossing one of the most dangerous bridge crossings in Nepal. After that experience there was nothing stopping her! She took up abseiling, canoeing, paragliding… so you can see she really faced her fear and won.
Life Changing Destinations
Our Manly: What makes travel to Nepal and Bhutan dear to your heart?
Lyn Taylor: My very first group tour was to Nepal and at the time I thought the reason I was visiting was to see the mountains but after spending 3 weeks in Nepal I realized it was not the mountains but the people that stole my heart. They are so humble, and so content with what they have. They never rush things and are always willing to help out in any way they can. The culture over there is just so giving; there is much we can learn from these beautiful people.
Bhutan is a very unique and special country with untouched wilderness areas. Tourism numbers are limited so it does not have a negative impact on the environment. There is not a country in the world like Bhutan and I have not heard anyone say they did not like it as a tourist destination!
Our Manly: If there was only an 80% chance you'd survive, would you risk an orbital space flight? Why or why not?
Lyn Taylor: Not interested! Why not? Because there is no cultural attachment.
Our Manly: Is adventure ageless? Does travel make you feel younger? Or does the benefit of wisdom and experience actually enhance the experience?
Lyn Taylor: It definitely makes you feel younger – why? You are out in the fresh air, socialising with people from all different walks of life. Fresh air, exercise and laughter together form the fountain of youth.
Our Manly: What is your first breakfast when you return home from a long trip abroad?
Lyn Taylor: I go down to my favourite café at Warriewood Beach Surf Club and have a cappuccino. Not much of a breakfast but no one in the world makes caps like we do in Australia!
Our Manly: Lyn, it has been a real pleasure to hear your thoughts. Thanks so much for sharing your insights on a life of travel and adventure. Safe travels!
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(02) 9997 7442