Travel Director: Jonathan Holburn
Regions: France and Italy
Trafalgar’s Travel Directors play a key role in providing each of our guests with a truly memorable experience. From the moment your Trafalgar journey begins, our Travel Directors share their local knowledge and provide a personalised, one-of-a-kind insider’s view of each destination. They are experienced travellers, learned historians and culture buffs whose job is to help you become immersed in the places you visit.
Travel Director Jonathan Holburn took a few minutes to talk to the Trafalgar Blog to share some of his experiences and give some insight to why he loves what he does.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I was born in a rural French village with no traffic lights. My love affair with travel and connecting with different cultures began with a move at the tender age of six to the UK. My passion for history and French culture led to a joint honours degree in those subjects from Manchester/Bradford University. It would not be long, however, before my inquisitive nature took me to a country much farther afield from my native Europe: the USA. My natural inclination to discover ‘what all the fuss is about’ led me to develop a taste for some truly American pastimes; surfing, snowboarding, Californian wine tasting and ballooning in Napa Valley, which seemed to lead inevitably to sky diving. I moved to my beloved Paris in 2002 where I still reside today. I have worked for the past 8 years as a Travel Director for Trafalgar.
What is the best part of your job?
I don’t just get to tell people about the places and things I am most passionate about; I actually get to take them there so that they can experience them. I get to see people’s preconceptions change as they discover places, foods and new interests that they will keep for the rest of their lives.
I get to be your ‘inside man’, your friend who lives here. Who else gets to do that?
What’s your best Hidden Treasure?
A local lady named Madame Therese at Nice open air market makes the most amazing traditional ‘Socca’ dish – rather like a pizza base with cheese and caramelized onions on top, yum!
Most memorable on the road moment?
Our coach was blocked in a tiny village on the Italian Amalfi Coast because someone had parked illegally. The offending Fiat 500 was so small and light that along with six Trafalgar guests, the driver and I picked it up and simply carried it out of the way. Worth it for the round of applause we got getting back on the coach!
What vacation photo would you recommend our guests have to take?
The Eiffel Tower sparkling, on the hour, after nightfall. You have to catch it quickly though, because it only sparkles for five minutes.
Something the locals do differently: Parisian police on rollerblades springs to mind!
What are your staple travel items?
Universal electrical adapter, cardigan, phone, camera, headphones, Swiss pocket knife, a smile and a sense of humour.
Your tip for feeling like a local while travelling?
As children in the English-speaking world we are taught two important words: “please” and “thank you”. In France we are brought up with four: ”hello” and ”goodbye” as well. Say ”bonjour” when you meet anybody French and ”au revoir” when you leave. It’s not a question of politeness, simply etiquette; it’s the way we do things over here. Failure to do so will have you standing out like a sore thumb.
Must Buy souvenir?
A book from Paris’s famous ‘Shakespeare and Co’ bookstore, which Hemingway personally liberated during WWII. They will even stamp the inside cover for you if you ask them.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
My guests trying something new in a country foreign to them – it reminds me to carry on doing that wherever I go. And, my Mom.
Best travel tip?
You are traveling to experience the difference, not to search for what you have at home.