Ash Chin teaches us how to travel

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Even with an underlying love of travel & adventure, it can be so difficult to manage travel. Especially when you’re on the move for work and building a business. It’s always the way, that you’re having to be on the road when you’re at your busiest.

But it’s ok. That’s why I’m giving you the gift of Ash.

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Could you tell us a little about yourself? Where did your love of travel come from?

I’ve had a love of travel and exploration for as long as I can remember. With my father from Hong Kong and my mother from New Zealand, we traveled as a family and I’ve always appreciated the need for me to explore both sides of my identity and the very different cultures represented.

I left home when I was 17 and moved overseas. Since then, I feel as though I’ve been on a lifelong adventure of discovery. This has taken me around the world many times (I need to tick off Antarctica to get my ‘every continent’ badge) and I’ve lived in a number of countries around the world. 

I love experiences. And I love the lessons that only travel teaches you.

How did your business Sojourns Of come to be?

Sojourns Of started this year out of a desire (and many requests!) to share my experiences and view of the world - whether they be travel tips, photos of locations I visit, or just musings about where I’ve been and where I want to go.

This evolved over the last few months and now I am able to offer a full end-to-end travel consulting service to my clients. I’m back in an industry which I love (I left travel in 2010 for a marketing role at Burberry in London) and for me, nothing is more exciting than being able to share my passion with others, and help them to discover the world at the same time.

Ash, I don’t know anyone that travels in as much style as you. Is there a secret to booking the perfect trip? 

Knowledge is definitely power. I spend hours reading and researching destinations whether for myself, clients or simply just out of interest. Know where you’re going or find someone who does. Its well worth finding someone who can tap into their invaluable networks to help you put together a great trip.

Value is key. A lot of people perceive that I only work with the luxury end of the market - but define luxury to you! I can find a boutique gem for in the Loire Valley for €200 per night (with exclusive benefits) right through to villas in Asia upwards of US$10,000 per night.

Working with knowledgeable and connected agents is invaluable. How many travel agents do you know are able to drop in and meet with the management teams of every ‘Palace’ hotel in Paris? (In fact, I’m seeing all 9 ‘Palace’ hotels, plus another 5…). It means I can open doors!

So my tips are research, plan and work with someone who can help take your trip to another level.

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Top tips for getting work done on a long haul flight? Is the trip up to business class worth it for the increased productivity?

I don’t like to work on a long-haul flight! I LOVE that I am disconnected and can relax, watch some movies, eat and chat to my travel companions (if I have any). That said, sometimes I do need to work and flying is amazing for getting rid of pesky distractions.

I’d fly business class every flight if I could - worth is subjective and I do travel really well even in economy, but there is a lot to be said for being rested so you can hit the ground running when you land.

When they start to grow, a lot of startups find that they need to be on the road a fair bit but they’re still needing to be very conscious of their limited funds while they’re bootstrapping in the early days. How do you suggest that we keep our cost low and keep our professional edge on point?

I think it’s all about perception and the brand that you create. If you are professional and skilled at what you do, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to appear this way to your clients. For example, I love meeting my clients at a cafe for coffee - we have great meetings and I can work with them on my laptop as we discuss destinations. You make it work! 

Professional edge is an attitude and really, this can’t be bought. So find your it factor, and build your brand around this. All I’ve created is a website, and email address and some business cards! The rest is up to me.

For me and most of my compatriots, my life is just a string of whirlwind trips. What should we all be doing to make sure we can hit the ground running? 

There are so many different tips and tricks floating around. My only thing is find what works for you. Sleep when you can!

I’m also a big believer in leaving Australia in the evening and landing in Europe in the morning - or basically apply this rule for any destination. I always try and land and then have a whole day (or afternoon at minimum) to stay awake and be active. 9/10 this means I sleep pretty well that night and I’m good to go the next day.

Of course practical things help like hydration, good skincare regime, some mild medication perhaps...

My last tip is to just have the mindset that this is easy! Whenever I’m a bit sleep deprived due to flying, I just tell myself it’s no different to a big night out and I’ll get through it! I never give in...

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Is it always worth making sure you get a personal day or two in with a business trip? 

Absolutely. I know some people just want to get home, but have always loved landing a day early or staying a weekend so I can get to know somewhere a little more. Even in ‘boring’ cities, there’s still the opportunity to get out and about somewhere different and just have a break and an experience which you wouldn’t normally be able to do.

I know you and your partner Travis both travel a lot for work. How do you keep the home fires burning while you’re away so much? I know it’s something I often struggle with. 

Thankfully we get to travel together often for work and for fun so that eases things a bit! Travis does travel a lot more than me, but we’re used to it now! It’s all about communication really - we love to FaceTime as much as possible!

Where are you off to next! 

It’s September show season so we’re off to Paris for the ready-to-wear shows. We get to spend 10 days in Paris which is so fantastic! It’s my favourite city.

I always plan some leisure time when I go to Paris. Travis works so incredibly hard during show season so we’re spending a week in Capri (we try visit annually) with my brother and my best friend/his fiance and then to Florence and Siena before we head to Paris. Then we head to Vienna to see some friends we met in Egypt and on to Beirut (second time this year)!

The next exploration trip is India in April - a bucket list for me and one of Travis’ favourite places.

As you’re well aware travelling can often test us and our patience, especially if we’re travelling in remote areas. What are some things you never leave the house without to help you keep your cool?

This is a tough one… For me I think it would be my iPhone with a local SIM card. Your phone is so powerful these days and whilst we should try and disconnect a bit, I’m so reliant on it when I travel. It’s my map, it’s my guidebook, it’s my translator, it’s my finances, it’s my safety net if I need to call someone to help. I’m a pretty relaxed traveller though - going with the flow and just adapting to situations can really alleviate stress!

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If Ash isn’t already working on your next trip, he should be… So reach out. He’d love to hear from you.

Alice Armitage