**This article was originally written for and posted by The University of Warwick’s student newspaper, The Boar, and can be found on this link.**
Whenever I open up Instagram, usually in the midst of a lecture too much to handle, the scroll is always pretty much the same. A few comical memes appear on my home screen, a few likes are dished out here and there and then this process is repeated routinely until the ‘recent posts’ are no more.
However, occasionally this practice can offer up some surprises and it was in the midst of this browsing that I came across something a little bit different in the form of the Telegraph Travel Show. The following of well-known traveller Gunnar Garfors had not only notified me of the event but had also granted me free tickets. As if this wasn’t enough incentive to go, upon arrival I was greeted by a goody bag filled with the weirdest assortment of stuff, some more expected than others- the Lactose free milk was certainly a surprise!
The event itself was a three-day affair to be held in London’s ExCel. As it would happen, Garfors would be a guest speaker on day one, Friday 13th January. Comparable to university careers fares, the various stalls were set out in grid formation and assigned to different companies offering excursions and opportunities across the globe. Some companies offering the more adventurous trips were able to compliment these opportunities through innovation in their stalls- ‘Peru safari’ for example brought one of their 4×4’s to promote their trips.
Of course, with such a layout it made it easy to wonder around between countries deciding which one you wanted to visit next. However, if you’re like me and can’t decide on where to go, the ‘Genius Bar’ in the centre of the show is the perfect place for you. This bar boasted a collection of travel experts willing to give advice in a range of areas, including which stands were best to visit in the show. If you’re completely lost in your travel plans or stuck for inspiration, they were the people to see.
Another prominent feature of the show, labelled the ‘Destinations Theatre’, played host to an array of specialist guests covering a wide scope of travelling themes. All those I saw were exceptional but Garfors was very much my highlight. He is one of the few able to claim to have been to every country and did so as a hobby traveller, meaning he also maintained a full-time job alongside this. At 37 years old upon completion, he is the youngest to have achieved this feat. It was after having read his book, ‘198: How I Ran Out of Countries’, that I was hooked on his stories about his time in some of the worlds obscurest locations, so when I learned his talk was titled ‘Why I am Going Back to the Least Visited Countries in the World’, I was naturally intrigued.
He started with a brief discussion of who he was for those who didn’t know and then detailed the countries least visited and why he would go back.
I found both Garfors and his anecdotes so intriguing, particularly on what he calls ‘The Stans’, that I’m now all but determined to visit Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan in the near future.
Admittedly, ‘Travel’ may have not been the most applicable term. Perhaps the ‘Telegraph Holiday Show’ would have been more appropriate. This is not to suggest any sort of disdain towards the show- it was well worth a visit if not just for inspiration alone! However, as a final year university student looking to do some sort of volunteering work abroad, I found myself to be of a rare breed. The show was packed with middle-aged couples looking for a cruise or a company tailored holiday. There wasn’t a single volunteering stand! If you’re still in the student mind-set and reluctant to spend vast amounts of money, this is perhaps the place to window shop your options as opposed to booking anything.