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 eighth instalment of our Road Crew Inspiration Blog Series where we’ll be answering that all important question: what’s it like to be a Topdeck Trip Leader?

We’ll be interviewing a member of the Topdeck Crew and learning all about what they do. Come have a read.

Taimi Maidla, Topdeck Trip Leader.

Taimi grew up in a small town on the same chicken farm that her Estonian grandparents built by hand when they moved to Australia in the 1950s. She studied Outdoor Recreation when she left school and worked at a summer camp in Canada. She’s been on two Topdeck trips as a passenger and then became a Trip Leader in 2013 and 2014 for Europe before moving back to Australia.

Since then, Taimi has become a Trip Leader for Topdeck’s Australia and New Zealand trips and hasn’t looked back since. She’s a huge advocate for doing what she loves and defines herself by cats, tea and Estonia.

We had a chat with Taimi about her experience as a Topdeck Trip Leader, giving us some insight into the question: What’s it like to be a Topdeck Trip Leader?

1. How did you first hear about Topdeck?

Pretty sure it was while living in London when I’d cut out travel photos from a magazine to stick on my wall. A few years later I decided to head to Scandinavia so I did some research and found out Topdeck goes to the top of mainland Europe with the Red Star Special.

Booking that was a no brainer! Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough leave to do the whole trip but I was able to finish in Tallinn, where my family is from.

2. What made you want to become a Trip Leader?

At the end of school I was asked “what’s your favourite part of school?”. I answered “school camp” and this led me to study Outdoor Recreation. A few years later I asked myself a similar question, “what’s my favourite part of life?” When I answered “travel” I knew I needed to follow that path.

On my Topdeck trip, I also got to show my group unknown parts of Tallinn and teach them about Estonian culture which gave me enough of a buzz to apply later that year.

3. What’s the most rewarding part of being a Trip Leader?

I can’t choose just one! It’s the bewilderment on the faces of passengers when they see world-famous sites for the first time. It’s adding exciting new cuisines to my palate. It’s helping passengers tick items off their bucket list.

It’s looking at my outfit and realising every item of clothing is from a different country. It’s making everyone jealous with my photos and experiences. It’s changing people’s lives through engagements and finding their new loves and lifelong best friends on my trips. What’s it like to be a Topdeck Trip Leader? Awesome.

4. What’s your Trip Leader nickname and why?

Once passengers get the hang of it, my name is usually unique enough! “It’s like Amy with a T”. But I have been called Tim Tam and I’m sure most Trip Leaders have been called Mum before. I certainly have.

5. What’s a favourite meal you’ve had when on the road?

One day we left Fox Glacier early because our optional activities had been rained out. So, we got into Queenstown early. I felt so bad that my passengers weren’t able to do their optionals that I decided to organise a huge Fergburger order. It ended up being something crazy like 34 burgers, 16 sides of fries and some drinks.

We brought it up to the kitchen and had a feast overlooking The Remarkables mountain range before hitting the town. That was pretty memorable.

6. What’s one thing you pack every time you head out on the road?

An eye mask. Since I did a bus adventure around the US and Canada I can sleep anywhere. But only with an eye mask.

The one I currently have was a present from my brother and it looks like I have half a cat face when I’m wearing it. It’s perfect for me because I’m a crazy cat lady. If I could bring cats with me on the road I would! A coach cat is my ultimate dream.

7. What’s your go-to travel/getting pumped song?

I have a Spotify playlist called Bangers that used to keep me sane while walking to my office job. Now I put it on whenever I need a pick-me-up. It ranges from loud, screamy stuff to dubstep. The only common ground is the fast pace and banging beats.

My current favourites are Dillon Francis, Carmada, Hermitude & Slumberjack. As for a specific song, old trip songs are great. Things like Wake Me Up by Avicii or Bumblebee by Art vs Science. What’s it like to be a Topdeck Trip Leader? I get to be the DJ. So, pretty cool.

8. What’s your number one piece of advice for new travellers?

SAY YES! Saying yes creates memories and promotes positivity. It helps you get out of your comfort zone and grow as a person. It’s what changes you. You’ve spent money on your trip so don’t waste it lying alone in bed.

Go and get lost in the streets, eat something new, sign up for something that terrifies you. As a great friend once told me, it’s better to regret the things you have done than the things you haven’t.

9. Do you do anything to stay fit when travelling?

I did every sport under the sun when I was growing up, so it kills me that I can’t do organised sport while travelling. However, this year I’ve been using a workout app. I do it as soon as I wake up and it helps me feel awake and enthusiastic in the mornings.

I also have a bad back so I stretch while sitting on the coach. I probably look crazy doing yoga moves but hey, whatever helps!

10. Would you rather travel into space or the bottom of the ocean?

Space, absolutely. I’m not a fan of the open ocean and whales freak me out. I’ve always been drawn to the most extreme places and space would be the ultimate extreme place!

Plus, imagine how many Instagram likes I’d get from those photos!!

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.

Marianne Lampon
Originally from Cambridge, Marianne has officially caught the travel bug. A lover of movies and fitness, Marianne will always stop to pet dogs when she’s out exploring and will steal your food when you’re not looking.