Wanna come join the Topdeck Crew? From Trip Leaders to Chefs to Coach Drivers, Topdeck are now recruiting for awesome new Road Crew. Best job ever, right?! To get you inspired, we’ve got the sixth instalment of our new Road Crew Inspiration Blog Series where we’ll be answering that all important question: what’s it like to be a Topdeck Trip Leader?
Each week, we’ll be interviewing a member of the Topdeck Crew and learning all about what they do. Come have a read.
Chris Swney, Topdeck Trip Leader.
Chris is 26 years old, from New Zealand and was a Cinema Manager before he began working with Topdeck. Cinema is one of his passions and he helped produce some short films while he was living in Wellington. Chris also loves to cook and has a slight obsession with pandas.
We had a chat with Chris about his experience as a Topdeck Trip Leader.
1. How did you first hear about Topdeck?
My wonderful mother is New Zealand’s best travel agent (and world’s best mum). She put me on to the Winter Spirit Topdeck trip back in 2012 and I absolutely loved it. I’ve since been fortunate enough to be a Trip Leader on this very same trip earlier this year.
It was a wonderful, full-circle moment for me. I went to write and direct a play about my experience a couple of years later, so the company has been in my life in some way for a while now.
2. What made you want to become a Trip Leader?
Becoming a Trip Leader was all about the right thing at the right time. I desperately needed a change of scenery and was going through a real rough patch in my life. I had aspirations of moving overseas for a while. So, I thought, why not get paid to do it?
I also wanted to pursue something new and to really push myself out of my comfort zone. Trip leading was the perfect choice.
3. What’s the most rewarding part of being a Trip Leader?
As cliché as it sounds, I really feel genuine happiness and satisfaction when I watch my passengers see the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum for the first time.
Coming from little New Zealand, the big wide world is daunting. I admire and respect those who take action and go and see the world. Getting to play even a small part in all of this is extremely special and humbling.
There’s a performance element to this job too, which I love. A walking tour of Rome with me is more of a spectacle than anything else!
4. What’s your number one piece of advice for new travellers?
Relax. Nothing in this world is perfect and that goes for travel too. Something will go wrong. It always does. You just have to embrace it and remember that it’s only going to make a great story!
Also, always pack the night before you depart for your next destination rather than leaving it until the morning.
5. What’s your favourite song to get Topdeckers pumped for their trip?
I pick a different song for each trip to make it special for my passengers and for me.
I tend to go for 80s bangers or one-hit wonders. ‘Take on Me’ by A-ha is not only a great song to get pumped up to but maybe, just maybe, it’s the greatest song of all time? Just putting it out there…
6. What’s one thing you pack every time you head out on the road?
An open mind. Be respectful and responsive to the different cultures that are out there.
I also pack Shaun! He comes with me everywhere. My favourite film is Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead and a very good friend of mine made me a Shaun teddy a few years ago. He’s always the extra member of crew on board. Where I go, he goes.
7. Where have you been on a Topdeck trip that’s genuinely taken your breath away?
Both Porto in Portugal and Cinque Terre in Italy knocked me out. Such vibrant, exciting places to be. I would return there in a heartbeat. I also recently went to Bordeaux for the first time and it’s so special there too.
Driving by the Louvre in Paris and the John Lennon Wall in Prague are also highlights.
8. What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you/your group on the road?
We’d just returned to the hostel after a driving tour of Paris and a wonderful picnic dinner by the Eiffel Tower. There was a power cut which meant no hostel bar! I saw a small bar on the corner with people dancing on the top floor. About 25 of us went straight there. A few minutes later, I realised that everyone (who wasn’t in the group) was really well dressed…
It turns out we had accidentally crashed a private wedding reception! I apologised to the groom and said we would leave. But the bride thought it was great and invited us to continue the night with them, even offering us food and drink. I’m pretty sure I’m now godfather to their first born child…
9. What’s your Trip Leader nickname and why?
‘Papa Sweenz’. Because I radiate a father figure like vibe to my passengers. This name has stuck with me for years and will likely be on my tombstone…
10. If you could travel into space or to the depths of the ocean, which would you choose and why?
I would travel into the depths of the ocean. I love to swim and there’s so much going on in the deep blue sea. Space, although being the final frontier, would be super lonely.
Plus, I’m pretty sure no one has found Rose’s necklace since she threw it overboard at the end of Titanic. I would make that a priority.
Been inspired having found out what’s it like to be a Topdeck Trip Leader? Become part of the Topdeck Road Crew and apply now!
Wanna come travel with Topdeck? We’ll see ya on the road.