James, from Stoke-on-Trent in the UK, has been on the road for us in South America and India since January 2016.
- What did you do for a living before becoming crew?
I spent a few years working across the UK as an outdoor instructor, working with school and youth groups from around the UK as well as international groups. During one off-season I found work in a warehouse for a start-up company working in eCommerce. Over the following 5 years I went from the warehouse to becoming the operations manager.
- Why did you become Dragoman crew?
I've always been interested in working as a tour leader, ever since I went to Borneo as part of a youth expedition with my sixth form college. This trip was the first time that I had ever flown anywhere, and I was immediately hooked on experiencing new cultures and destinations.
- What's your favourite destination?
So far I've been incredibly lucky to have seen the diverse landscape of South America, from Brazil down to Patagonia, but the one place that really stands out is the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile - once you've gotten over the wind that is! The drive into the park is spectacular in every direction, and the perfect opportunity to get the roof seats open for the group - a real crowd pleaser!
- What has been your favourite or most memorable occasion on the road?
There have been so many memorable moments so far from my short time on the road. Iguazu Falls is stunning, especially on the Argentinian side; the boat ride out to Perito Moreno Glacier is also an incredible sight; then there are the things we can't put in our itinerary, like the sunrise we had over Rio Uruguay from our campsite in Yapeyú which had everyone rushing for their cameras - but to choose just one is tough!
- What's the most essential item in your backpack?
Besides my camera, one thing that I always have with me is a portable speaker. It's perfect way to break the ice and bond with the passengers. It's also great to pass to the cook group for when they are preparing cooking dinner when we camp - some music always seems to create a more relaxed and feel-good atmosphere.
- What is your one piece of advice to future overlanders/passengers?
It would have to be "don't worry about the small stuff, and it's all small stuff". You need to be prepared for anything to happen when you're on the road, as you just can't predict what will happen; shops could be closed when they say they'll be open, local guides and transport might not turn up when they say they will, and it might be gale-force wind and rain every time we camp!