In this week’s Travel Talk, I’ve had a chat with the lovely travel consultant Marita. Not only will she share her secrets from the travel industry – she will also bring us along on her adventurous trip to Pakistan…
Hey Marita! I know you’re a busy lady these days, so thanks for stopping by. You’re a traveler, a blogger, and you work in the travel industry – in fact, you’re the living proof that you don’t have to quit your full-time job in order to be an adventurous traveler. Can you tell us a bit about your career?
I work at a tour operator as a Travel agent/ Web Editor /Social Media Coordinator, so I have many different tasks and it all depends on the day. Mostly it consist of talking to clients, I design and help them with the perfect vacation. I book hotels, transfers, flights. And then I make sure that the web page is up to date with offers, tours, banners and prices. My favorite part of the job is definitely designing new tours. I love it when a client calls, and I can actually give them whatever they want.
For a long time I didn’t know what I wanted to work with. I volunteered in South Africa for a few months, and then I knew that I wanted to work in the travel industry. After a while I started studying to become a travel coordinator at Treider Faghøyskole in Oslo.
Sunset in Pakistan
A tip to anybody who wants to work in the industry; travel, travel a lot. The experience you get when you travel can not be taught in a classroom!
That’s a great advice, Marita. So what is it you love so much about traveling?
I’ve always loved to travel, but it wasn’t until I returned from South Africa that I knew I wanted to work in the industry. What’s better than to travel the world for a living?
I get to give people their dream vacation, and I get to travel to places I never thought I would see. I’ve never been a fan of traveling simply to lie on a beach somewhere – I can do that at home. I love to meet new people, eat new food, to actually see and touch the history of the world, not just read about it in a book. I also enjoy seeing and experiencing how the rest of the world lives, their culture and their way of life.
Chilling with elephants in South Africa
You just returned from a visit to Lahore, Pakistan. Please tell us all about your Pakistani experience!
Pakistan was so unexpected, I had no idea it would be so beautiful and welcoming. It’s not many places I’ve travelled to that’s made me feel as much as home as I did in Pakistan. The people were so kind, and they welcomed us with open arms – even though some had never seen people from our side of the world before. They were really curious, and they just wanted to talk to us and take pictures with us.
The last day in Lahore, we went to the border between Pakistan and India, where every day – two hours before sunset – they hold a ceremony. That must be one of the most incredible things I have ever seen, it was so emotional and powerful. If you ever go to Lahore you have to see it!
So I take it you recommend a visit to Pakistan then?
First I have to say that Pakistan is simply so amazing! I know that people hear a lot on the news, and that they think it might be dangerous to travel there. But the right people and some common sense will get you far.
When I went to Pakistan, I travelled with colleagues. In fact, the CEO of the company I work for is Pakistani. We also have an office in Lahore, so my colleagues knew the city and they also knew all of our guides. I would advise that you book your trip trough a company with experience in the country, and make sure that they know the travel industry and the companies on sight. Remember, if you’re sightseeing – always have a local guide with you. You will probably get a lot of attention from the locals.
Traffic jam in Lahore
To get the real feeling of the country, you have to try the street food. Pakistan got some incredible food, if you like it a little spicy that is. If possible: a tour in the back alleys and to see how the locals live is also a great experience. Got some extra time? The Khewra salt mines in the Punjab province is beautiful, Katas Raj Temples in Chakwal, Masjid Wazir Khan, Sheesh Mahal (Lahore Fort) also know as “The Palace of Mirrors” or “The Glass Palace” and the Badshahi Mosque. Check it out!
Pakistan sounds like an amazing experience! But honestly, what’s your all-time favorite travel memory?
This is a tough one.. I have a lot of amazing travel memories, but it definitely has to be my trip to South Africa in 2013. I worked as a volunteer at an orphanage in Khayelitsha, and to help those kids must be my favorite memory.
As an extensive traveler – what’s the 3 most vital things you can never travel without?
My camera is always a must, I love taking pictures so I never travel without it! I always bring a good book, if you have a long layover a book is always a good idea. And my earbuds for long bus rides and on the flight. Other than that I don’t really need much.
Thanks for the chat, Marita! So the last question – where can we find you in 2016?
Well, so far I haven’t planned that many trips… Except a trip to Thailand, I’ll visit both Bangkok and Krabi. And a trip to Rome, Italy. The rest I’ll plan later!
Marita Fjeldheim is a travel consultant located in Oslo, Norway. You can catch up with her busy travel schedule on Instagram @maritarygh, or you can read her brand new blog Catching Flights.