Meet Your Trip Director: Tom Shepard

Hometown:
Brentwood, California.

Where do you work when you’re not leading trips?
I work in hospitality, so anything from working banquets to managing a hotel down in Costa Rica. I am also a whitewater raft guide and enjoy being on the river experiencing nature at its purest.

Favorite country:
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South Africa

What is one piece of clothing you never travel without?
The one thing I cannot travel without is a comfortable pair of swim trunks. I’m always down to go for a swim or adventure that could result in getting wet, so universal swim trunks are always a great idea!

Do you have a go-to song/artist/playlist when traveling?
I am a fan of all kinds of music, but there isn’t really anything specific to go with my travels.

What is your favorite hobby (besides travel) and why?
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I enjoy getting outside, especially going whitewater rafting and seeing new rivers around me. It’s amazing getting paid for doing what I love! When I’m not outside exploring, I also like being able to just hang out in my hammock and enjoy the day.

Describe one time where you’ve been up the creek without a paddle (so to speak) when you were traveling:
It would have to be Peru this last summer when the connecting flight to come home was delayed and the ticket agent wasn’t going to let the group flight check in because we arrived just after check-in time. So a quick request for management led to him grabbing other ticket agents to quickly get us checked in so thatwe made our flight just in time!

What is your favorite spot/time of day for people watching and why? 
The best place to people watch has to be the airport. There are so many people and this is a great way to see different cultures in one place and how they react, especially going through security.

Strangest place you’ve ever lived:
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Well I wouldn’t say it was the strangest, but that it sure was one of a kind. It would have to be when I lived on Makalali Game Reserve in South Africa. Have you ever been late to work because a herd of elephant was blocking the trail? Have you ever been woken up in the night from lions roaring? I have, and I enjoyed it everyday! It was a real dream come true!

What is your top tip to be a traveler, not a tourist?
You should always plan to have one day where there is no plan. Sometimes spur of the moment trips or excursions can be the most memorable and fun. Or even a day just sitting in the central square or a park is a great time too.

A good picnic or dinner at a nice restaurant?
I would prefer a good dinner at a restaurant since I get to have a picnic on an upside down raft quite frequently on the river!
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