The boss of a luxury travel firm shares his most memorable travel experience – and it’s not what you’d expect

Alex Malcolm
Jacada Travel

It’s the holiday season again, and for many of us, deciding where to escape to is often limited by our budget and the amount of time we have.

But what if your job is to explore exotic destinations and recommend them to people?

Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?

Alex Malcolm, the London-based founder and managing director of bespoke travel agency Jacada Travel, has a job that’s precisely like that.

His company curates personalised itineraries and tours for clients in the dreamiest destinations from Asia to the Antarctic.

Instead of offering run-of-the-mill luxury experiences, the company sells clients unique and memorable experiences that one can usually only get out of “slow travel”.

According to Malcolm, Jacada Travel’s clients are “people who want to get more out of their travel but don’t have a lot of time to go”.

Based on where they’re from, clients can ask for different kinds of experiences. In Singapore, travellers are a lot more concerned about safety, cold weather adventures and culinary experiences.

Reaping the benefits of travel

Being an avid traveller himself, Malcolm knows what makes a trip memorable and impactful.

The 37-year-old’s most recent trip was to Puglia, Italy, where he attended a yoga retreat despite not having done much yoga before.

“I found (the retreat) immensely nourishing… After I come back (from a holiday), I can look at all the issues in business more clearly and with a more open mind. Travel really has a huge potential to do you good,” he tells us.

Thanks to the retreat, he has now added a yoga mat to his list of the three things he can’t travel without. The other two items are a camera and a good book.

Finding beauty in the midst of nothingness

His most memorable experience so far, he tells us, is not lounging in the comfort of a six-star hotel or dining at Michelin-starred restaurants. Rather, it was a six-day trip to the Northwest of Argentina, where he explored a rugged desert area called The Puna.

“We drove for thousands of miles and there was nobody,” he recalls.

And when his guide encouraged him to walk over a sand dune all by himself, he was stunned by the vast open space filled with nothing but “mountains of old extinct volcanoes going for hundreds of miles in every direction”.

“There was nobody, nobody. Not even a blade of grass. No sound. Just the wind. It was just mindblowing. Literally for a second, I felt like I was the only person in the whole planet,” he says.

If you’re wondering what it’s like, there are a number of videos on YouTube such as this one which showcase the vastness of the area:

The must-go-to list

While you would expect a man as well-travelled as him to have seen it all, there are places he has yet to explore.

At the top of his must-visit list is now Mongolia, which he plans on adding to Jacada Travel’s destinations in the near future.

For now though, it’s a trip to Peru with his mother and sister. He admits he’s been there a couple of times before, but he enjoys revisiting places with new people or to explore areas he didn’t get to before.

“It’s nice to see (a place) from someone else’s eyes sometimes,” he says.

Coming from the city, he loves to visit big open spaces and just like it is for many of us, some good food doesn’t hurt too.

It’s probably a little too late to plan a trip for the end-of-year holidays, but if you’re planning on getting away over Chinese New Year season in February, perhaps Jacada Travel’s suggestions can help you decide.

Here are the company’s Top 10 Destinations for Chinese New Year 2018:

  1. Bhutan
  2. Sri Lanka
  3. India
  4. South Africa
  5. Australia
  6. French Polynesia
  7. Norway
  8. Chile
  9. Brazil
  10. Costa Rica