Travel runs through the veins of Helen van Tonder. She has extensive travel industry international sales and marketing experience, contracting and creation of strategies and growing the customer base internationally. She is currently works with top travel professionals worldwide to build the WTM Africa and ILTM Africa Hosted Buyer programmes for Africa Travel Week.
How did you fall in love with travelling?
My father loved the open road and travelling the road less travelled. As a small child we would travel from Zambia to South Africa every year in his Mark 7 Jaguar – a 3-day trip. We stopped at every vantage point, small town and village to explore and find delight in having new experiences and adventures. This taught me to take every single opportunity to travel, not to have preconceived ideas and to love and respect the people met along the way.
What kind of traveller are you?
I am an enthusiastic traveller who revels in new tastes, experiences and adventures. I love exploring new cities for their historical artistic and foodie value as well as meeting new people along the way.
What’s your travel philosophy?
To enjoy every adventure – who cares if your plane is delayed or you get lost in a new city – enjoy the adventure. Take the trouble to do a guided city tour and then head off on your own.
What are your top travel essentials?
Travel light – I never take more than I absolutely need – so that I can come back with lots of new and exciting purchases and gifts
Where was your most memorable trip?
There have been so many, but I love South America. Argentina and Buenos Aires in particular is so colourful and exciting, the smell of the nuts being roasted in the streets, the Mimes and the Tango oh, and the barbeque! The vibrancy of Sao Paulo and Rio must be experienced, and Santiago in Chile is a magnificent huge cosmopolitan city full of life and adventure. I took a bus trip from Santiago to the artistic city of Villa Paraiso – it was an experience! Villa Paraiso Chile is a must visit for anyone who loves art
How has travelling changed your life?
I have been fortunate enough to have travelled to many continents and countries in the world, and have had so many incredible experiences and met so many amazing people that one can’t help realising that we’re all one great diverse human family.
When we can start travelling again, where would you go?
Somewhere in our beautiful South Africa! Thinking, the South Coast in KwaZulu-Natal.
Best travel advice you can share?
Leave your preconceptions at home and enjoy every minute.