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Haydn Wrath

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I took a year off between school and university to travel. I ended up taking several more 'years off ' after leaving university to travel and work abroad, culminating in starting work as a trainee travel consultant in the late 1980's. As soon as I started this job, all of my anxiety about career direction evaporated as I realised that it was possible to work in an industry that I was passionate about. There is more about my background and the Travel Nation story here.

Originally from


Where did you spend your student years?

1981 – 1984 Smattering of politics, sociology and philosophy at the University of East Anglia in the days when the state paid your tuition fees, living expenses, rent and train fare home each holiday.

Travel Industry experience

18 months at STA Travel way back in the 1980's when we used to book flights by calling the airline! 10 years at Bridge the World in London as the manager. Founded Travel Nation in 2001.

Haydn has visited:

  • Argentina Flag


  • Australia Flag


  • Bolivia Flag


  • Botswana Flag


  • Brazil Flag


  • China Flag


  • Egypt Flag


  • Ethiopia Flag


  • Fiji Flag


  • French Polynesia Flag

    French Polynesia

  • Hong Kong SAR China Flag

    Hong Kong SAR China

  • India Flag


  • Indonesia Flag


  • Japan Flag


  • Cambodia Flag


  • Canada Flag


  • Kenya Flag


  • Cuba Flag


  • Laos Flag


  • Malaysia Flag


  • Mexico Flag


  • Mongolia Flag


  • Namibia Flag


  • Nepal Flag


  • New Zealand Flag

    New Zealand

  • Paraguay Flag


  • Peru Flag


  • Philippines Flag


  • Russia Flag


  • Singapore Flag


  • South Korea Flag

    South Korea

  • Sri Lanka Flag

    Sri Lanka

  • South Africa Flag

    South Africa

  • Tanzania Flag


  • Thailand Flag


  • Timor-Leste Flag


  • Turkey Flag


  • Uruguay Flag


  • United States Flag

    United States

  • Vietnam Flag


  • Zimbabwe Flag


Fishing boat on Jaco Island, Timor-Leste

Last trip:

Boudhanath Stupa, Katmandou

Next trip:

About Haydn

Mountain/desert/ocean/jungle – which one do you prefer and why?

Deserts. I love the dry climate and big eerie landscapes.

What was your first great travel experience?

18 years old in 1980. I hitchhiked to Egypt where my plan was to find a ship on the Suez Canal to take me to India. I made it as far as the Suez Canal but was politely told that the times had passed when young men in search of adventure could work their passage on passing ships.

What has been your favourite journey?

On a steam train on a clear moonlit night crossing the Thar Desert in Rajasthan (India).

What are your top 3 places in the world?

Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand, Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

Which passport stamp are you proudest of?


When did you get the travel bug?

My parents are separated and as a teenager, I worked out that by hitchhiking instead of taking the train to travel between them, I could considerably boost my income by pocketing the train fare. Those illicit trips up and down the M1 between Nottingham and Sheffield in the 1970's gave me a real buzz and sense of adventure.

What is the worst hotel/hostel you've stayed in?

In Tokyo, there was a small common room with a couple of ratty old chairs, but it was obvious that it had not long since been converted from being a men's toilet as you could clearly make out the shape of where the urinals had been fixed to the wall!

What is the best hotel you've stayed in?

Victoria Chau Doc on the Bassac River (part of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam). For the view of the frenetic human activity on the river.

What has been your worst travel experience?

I was hitchhiking around the USA on my own and badly sprained my ankle on a beach in San Diego. Unable to walk, two friendly guys helped me off the beach and drove me to hospital. While I was being X-rayed, they either got bored waiting and drove off with my backpack in the boot of their car, or they purposely stole it. I'll never know.

I was unable to walk, had lost all of my possessions and only had one shoe. Luckily a nurse who I had chatted to several hours earlier when I limped in saw me forlornly spinning around the helicopter landing pad in the dead of the night in a wheelchair, took pity on me and took me home, where I stayed for a few days while I recovered.

What place/thing exceeded your expectations?

The Ajanta and Ellora caves in India.

Where is the next place you are visiting/planning on visiting?

I would love to go back to India after a 25-year absence. A disproportionately high number of my best travel memories are from India.

Where/what would you really like to visit?

Uninhabited, ice covered and windswept Elephant Island in the Southern Ocean - to see where Ernest Shackleton and his men holed up for months on end in 1916 as part of their quest to return to civilisation after their ship (the Endurance) had been crushed by pack ice.

If you had to settle in one place/emigrate somewhere, where would it be?

I am currently doing just that in New Zealand for a year as I have a Kiwi wife. How lucky that my wife happens to come from the most beautiful country in the world!

What is the weirdest thing you have eaten whilst abroad?

Raw horse meat in Japan. At least in Japan, they tell you it is horse meat!

Where is the best place food-wise you have visited?

Sri Lankan breakfast

Where is the worst place food-wise you have visited?

Ethiopia – by a country mile! But please don't let that put you off going, it is a wonderful country.

What are your top 5 must-pack items?

Brimmed hat, shades, backgammon, kindle and these days a laptop.

Which country did you find to be the friendliest?

Himalayan villagers in Nepal. Almost everyone manages to be pleasant and optimistic, usually despite having very basic homes and few possessions.

What weird modes of transport have you travelled on?

I once travelled from Jakarta to Singapore going via Batam, using a cycle rickshaw, plane, taxi, junk boat, catamaran, and a double-decker bus all in one wonderful Phileas Fogg style day.

Have you ever worked abroad? If so explain.

I was a landscape gardener in Sydney, an English teacher in Yokohama (Japan) and last but not least, currently based in New Zealand working remotely as the MD of Travel Nation and Rickshaw Travel.

Have you experienced culture-shock, if so where was the place you found to be most different from home?

Worst was the second time I went to India. In the first few days, I was trying to fathom what made me come back when I knew what madness to expect. I recognised the same feeling years later when our second baby was born. Happily, I ended up having a great time in India second time around, and my baby girl also very quickly worked her magic!

Do you travel for the sights/the wildlife/the culture or the people?

People make it for me as they can (either wittingly or unwittingly) make you laugh. You can never really have a good time anywhere without humour.

Who would be your ideal travel companion?

On long trips, I used to really like travelling alone as I always seemed to have more adventurous adventures. These days I go away for much shorter periods and like to be with my wife and kids. I love the vicarious nature of travelling with my children especially as they get older and notice more.

If you had just 24 hours in a big city which one would it be?


What is your favourite beer from around the world?

Pint of Guinness, please mate.

What is the most treasured item that you've bought/collected whilst travelling?

I am not a collector. I've spent many years travelling and living in over 60 countries, but I think I have only ever brought one item home, a wickerwork thing with a pot inside it from Kashmir. I last saw it rotting away in a corner of my garden.

What is the best beach you've been to and why?

Those in the Abel Tasman, New Zealand. It's like the whole place has been photo-shopped in real life.

What is the most beautiful building you've visited?

If archaeological sites count as buildings, Machu Picchu. I was once looking in the general direction of (unlit) the Palace of Mysore in Karnataka, India on a moonless night when the dazzling decorative lights were suddenly switched on, illuminating the whole place against the night sky. I was told that they only switched the lights on for an hour a week to conserve electricity use.

Where is the most expensive/inexpensive place you have visited?

Cheap: Eating in local thali houses in India has to be as cheap as it gets. I had a meal once for 7p

Fearsomely expensive: Nursing an £18 pint of lager at the bar on the 200m high spectacular Skypark that crowns the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore. I asked the bar lady if they had used the volume uplift incremental marginal profitability matrix when setting their bar prices, but she seemed more interested in serving the next customer.

What's the best party you've been to whilst travelling?

I found myself at what must have been a very early acid house party on a palm-fringed beach in Goa in 1986, complete with pulsating psychedelic music, strobes and German hippies covered with neon body paint. The experience made me question whether my hitherto held belief that spending the evening in the student union bar at the University of East Anglia was, in fact, the ultimate night out after all.

What do you miss most from home whilst you are away?

Herby peppery sausages. Let's face it; you can only ever get a decent banger at home.

At the "Genuine" Hilton restaurant on Lamma Island in Hong Kong after a fantastic lunch

At the "Genuine" Hilton restaurant on Lamma Island in Hong Kong after a fantastic lunch

Enjoying panoramic views of the city from the pool at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel

Enjoying panoramic views of the city from the pool at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel

On a train in India in the mid 80's. I am unable to recall the look I was going for.

On a train in India in the mid 80's. I am unable to recall the look I was going for.

Living in New Zealand - 2012. Beachlife, with the kids

Living in New Zealand - 2012. Beachlife, with the kids

Escaping a grim England in the 80s!

Escaping a grim England in the 80s!

Magical days on Dal Lake in Srinagar, Kashmir in the 80's. Happily, Srinagar has recently been declared safe to travel to again by the FCO.

Magical days on Dal Lake in Srinagar, Kashmir in the 80's. Happily, Srinagar has recently been declared safe to travel to again by the FCO.