Growing up in the adventure travel business has its perks. My father, Dan Austin, director of Austin-Lehman Adventures bought into Backcountry Bicycle Tours after taking a biking adventure in the Tetons himself, when I was six years old. From there, I led a life in Montana that was a bit different from that of my peers, although the realization of that fact didn’t hit me until I grew older. At seven, I tagged along on our company’s Yellowstone Family Tours, meeting other children and families lucky enough to immerse themselves in the world of luxury travel, learning of lives and cultures much different than my own in my beautiful backyard. By ten, I tagged along with my dad and brother southwards to the friendly lands of Costa Rica, a Mecca for families with its smiling Ticos and its “wow-inducing” wildlife. From there, I traveled along openly and willing with my dad, my partner in travel, my adventure planner, to destinations far and wide: Peru, Alaska, Germany, Ecuador, Holland, Galapagos Islands, and all over the western United States. We traveled for business, we traveled to see what lie beyond the mountains of Montana, we traveled to learn about cultures different than our own, but most of all, we traveled for the love of adventure.
All these trips share at least one thing in common, and that is my dad’s willingness to plan these adventures and his excitement in sharing the world with my brother and me. What better way to learn about people, places, relationships, connections, and cultures! This just isn’t something that can be experienced in a classroom (and this is coming from someone with a degree in Education!) As it gets easier in our schools to bring the globe to a classroom with modern technology, you just can’t replace an authentic, hands-on cultural experience somewhere outside your comfort zone. My brother and I are some of the few Montanans I’ve found who have had the fortune of learning on the road…and we’re lucky enough to keep up with this lifestyle today.
After graduating from the University of Montana in 2011, I immediately accepted an offer to work full time for the family business, despite obtaining a degree that didn’t exactly fit into the world of tourism (a backup plan is always a good thing right?) In my position in Operations I not only have the pleasure of working one on one with ALA’s top notch guide team, but I also work closely with our partners across the globe, creating and maintaining contracts and serving as the “point person” for inquiries, problems, help, and advice when it comes to creating the perfect adventure for our guests. Throughout my few years of working for ALA, I’ve still had the fortune of continuing my travels, more so now than ever – scouting new destinations, attending conferences, leading guide trainings outside of the United States, and even leading a trip or two overseas, sometimes with, sometimes without my dad.
Recently we received a visit to our Montana office from a representative of Tourism Tasmania, Karen Stotz. (If you’re not sure of where Tasmania is (like I didn’t when I first met Karen) take a peek at a map of Australia, and then look south…) While sharing with us a presentation of the beautiful state of Tasmania, Karen mentioned a conference that takes place in Australia annually, the Australian Tourism Exchange, and informed us that a familiarization trip of the area could take place before or after the conference. Before I could get two words in edge wise, my dad shot in, claiming that we would be there and all correspondence for details of the trip would come through me, the trip planner. Me? Me?! The daughter who follows her dad on his travels worldwide, letting him do all of the planning?! Alright, this could be interesting. Challenge accepted!
Stay tuned for my next post to find out about planning and executing our Australia trip!