Sammy’s First Travel Experience – RatPack Travel



Sammy’s First Travel Experience

Like many of you, I felt COMPLETELY lost after finishing my university degree… after 3 years of hard work I asked myself, what the hell am I doing… did I really want to join the Rat Race when there was a whole world out there with hundreds of amazing experiences waiting for me. There was a clear 2 word answer, ‘Hell No’. With my mate Big Ryan in tow, we found jobs, saved up some money, promptly quit our jobs & said goodbye to our families and non existent girlfriends and headed to Thailand to start our adventure…

We hit up Thailand for a crazy month and spent our time partying our way around this unreal country where the beers were cheap, the food was amazing, our days were filled with chilling on stunning islands and life was GOOD. We did the classics {for good reason} – full moon party on Koh Phangan, dived on Koh Tao and got crazy in Bangkok, we drank way too many buckets, ate a lot of Pad Thai and had an epic time.

Next stop for us was Australia >>> we both had a 1 year working holiday visa which meant we could actually earn some money (we somehow spent a fair amount in Thailand). First stop in Oz for us was Perth, we blagged ourselves a 2 week tradie job, got sick of it and decided to head to Brisbane! We did what most Brits do and tried to find another job straight away… So instead of hanging out on beautiful beaches on the East Coast I found myself working on a production line for roller garage door company, safe to say this was not the Australian experience I had imagined.

After 4 months of the most tedious production line work I realised I was living the same city life as I was used to back in Manchester, UK… this was not the plan! When Big Ryan flew back home, this prompted me to get out of the city and finally see Australia.

The real experience begins…

I stepped out on an absolute solo mission and headed north from Brisbane on an epic roadie. Before I left the city i made a real rookie error and went in to the first travel agent I saw and booked an east coast package {I found out later I spent a few too many dollars on that one, a mistake that I NOW don’t want others to make}…

Despite the cost my adventure up the East Coast was UNREAL and we hit up all the sick spots: Fraser Island, The Whitsundays, Maggie Island & The Great Barrier Reef. We were meeting so many backpackers, bouncing from one spot to another >>> I was finally living the experience that I had expected {it actually was even better than I’d ever imagined}.

Once I got to cairns I embarked on another epic roadie and drove for 6 days non stop through the outback and ventured to Uluru and up to Darwin. From Darwin I headed down the West Coast. Initially I thought this adventure would be for about 4 weeks but the good times just kept rolling and this lasted for 6 months until my visa ran out.

With my visa running out, it was time to go home and catch up my friends and family… turns out, nothing had changed and as amazing as it was seeing everyone, I lasted all of 3 weeks in a rainy, cold Manchester before I decided it was time to set off again.

I came back to Oz on a 3 months tourist visa and made it my mission to complete the full circuit of this massive country. I went from Perth to Adelaide to Melbourne and on finally Sydney… I spent a lot of time stretching my budget by woofing and work for accommodation giggs, I worked on Kangaroo Island for the most grumpy bastard… I’ve ever met and he hated people, but I didn’t really care as it meant I was still in Australia. By the time I had finished the loop of Oz I had driven a total of 25,913 Km’s…

… next stop New Zealand!

NZ life with the Bruv-Ski

I headed to NZ with an extensive budget of $45… not ideal but I made it work! It was time to get my bro Jakey involved, he was in a similar position that I was in, a bit lost – had just broke up with his GF so he flew over too, he got off the plane in a full Nike black tracksuit {looking like an ultimate Manchester lad} within a week he ditched all of that and transformed into a surfie {how Travel changes ya quickly}.

Together we travelled every single inch of NZ in our camper banter car, the bruv-skis were cruisin NZ. We blagged our way into so many different jobs, I was a waiter {dropped 4 plates on my first day}, we lived in the surf town of Raglan, spending our days chilling & surfing. Raglan will always have a little part of my heart, you’ll know what I mean when you find your travel gem.

Mum kept ringing us and asking when we were coming home… 2 years later we FINALLY headed back. This time I lasted even less time, a total of 2 weeks to be exact. I was officially over Manchester life, the vibe of Oz & NZ had changed me in so many ways and I missed the cruissssssssey life at this end of the world!

I headed to Bali for a surf trip with my mate Raglan Jack, bouncing from one straw hut to the another, we surfed, and relaxed and it got me thinking that Australia was where I wanted to be >>> I had to do something about it.

Oz Round 3 – working for the Man

I went back to my favourite spot and attempted to get sponsored, after a few weeks of work for accomodation, Jacky Boy – {who I was still travelling with} found an ad for one of the biggest travel agents who were offering sponsorship. We got accepted & couldn’t believe our luck as it meant we’d be living in this unreal spot >>> Byron Bay. Living in Byron meant we were living the life I craved, we could surf whenever we wanted, we’d go out several nights a week and would HIT up the beach on a daily basis.

I worked for this travel agent for over a year and at first – loved it, I was chatting to backpackers everyday and was putting together epic packages for them, plus it turned out I was pretty good at it and I was finally making some good money.

The Revelation

I was moved up to run 4 shops in Cairns, I grafted for 9 months here and then decided to drop back down into casual roll, by this point I had been working for 2 years and I realised that my love and passion for travel had faded.

To start with I thought I was doing everyone a big favour by putting them on trips that had corporate links with the agency. By the time I was full time and had visa ties it was too late and I realised that the company didn’t have the same ethics and ethos that I had.

I begrudgingly continued to work and as good as my customer service was I hated that as soon as people had parted with thousands of dollars on an unpersonalised package and walked out of the door they had no one to contact in times of need. BackPackers came into the store from the street who had no idea of the lack of morals the company had, we were made to use very direct, pressure sale tactics so that people booked > which just wasn’t my style!!!

I headed back to Byron and started thinking about making a change…. I quickly realised that without a job I couldn’t afford rent for a long period of time so I headed back to Indonesia for 4 months with Jakey {my Bruv-Sk} and started working on my ideas. The aim to design a website that would finally shake up the BackPacker travel industry.

Kick Start > RatPack Travel….

I arrived back in Byron with an online platform in place! When I moved back I was working for accomodation at Byron Beach Resort… I approached the owner to see if I could use some space in the hostel to open a travel shop that would become >>> The RatPack Travel HQ! The location & vibe totally suited the brand I envisioned as it was chilled, right on the beach and away from town.

It started off as a booking service for guests of the hostels. I started supporting the smaller local tour operators rather than the giants, I soon expanded the RatPack products on offer and formed relationships with some of the most affordable and best rated tours around Australia & NZ!

Fast forward 12 months and we are still on the MOVE! We have created close to a thousand personalised calendars and trips for backpackers around the world for their Australia and NZ adventures. We’ve added a few RatPacker staff members along the way including family, existing mates, customers that have turned into friends and legendary bloggers that form our community of experts.

In our first year of operation we received more 5* reviews than any other Australian BackPacker booking service… PROVING that BIGGER ain’t always better.

The Banter Bus / new Rat Pack HQ….

Unfortunately the Byron Beach Resort Hostel in our 2nd year of operation was sold to new owners and an already established High Street shop stepped in. Never FEAR! In True RatPack Style we stepped away from the ‘norm’. We bought a 1973 Toyota Coaster Bus with a vision to turn it into our new office on wheels >>>

It took us 2 months to fully renovate and now it’s a fully functional RatPack HUB. Fair to say I completely underestimated the work that would have gone in to making it what it is today.

I for sure couldn’t of done it with out the help of the Famo & Aussie Lads.

When you visit Byron Bay come and say hello and we will take you for a a Cruise!

RatPack is here to SHAKE up the industry & we’ve only just begun.

This is my story….. what will yours be?

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