Welcome to a new column ‘A bit on the side’, profiling the secret lives and stories of people in the travel industry. Outside of travel, just what do they get up to in their spare time?

We’re bringing to light some of the quirky, awesome, unexpected things that your industry colleagues get up to when they’re not in uniform, so to speak.

If you get up to curious things (keep it clean!) outside your regular 9-to-5, we’d love to hear about it.

Email: [email protected], and tell us briefly what your bit on the side looks like.

 

Here’s how to do it:

NAME: Ben Alcock

FROM: Sydney

LIVES IN: Bangalow NSW

REGULAR GIG: Freelance content wrangler/Storyteller

CAREER SNAPSHOT: I actually have a degree in Landscape Architecture, but after Uni I took off overseas, fell in love with ‘travel’ and, perhaps naïvely, thought that the best way to keep travelling would be to get a job in the industry.

That job was as a travel consultant in the Sydney office of British travel agency, Trailfinders.

That morphed into some product and marketing, before landing a marketing role at Virgin Atlantic Airways – the coolest job I’ve ever had.

That was a lot of fun. Much more fun that you really should ever have at work. Ah, good times, indeed.

From there it’s a jaunt through some tourism boards (Abu Dhabi and Oman), some interesting roles within the Flight Centre Travel Group, some resort representation, before cutting the strings and going solo, hooking up with the stable of clever freelancers at Resource.

Ben’s Bits on the side include…

 

Blogger, Broadcaster and Travel Writer

Photo Credit: Lyn McCarthy/Niche Pictures
My concern, when we moved from Sydney to Bangalow near Byron Bay on the NSW far north coast, was that I was going to disappear off the industry radar.

Setting up my travel blog was a way to keep visible, so to speak.

It actually put me on the radar and a couple of tourism offices, in their great wisdom, sent me on some media famils.

That led to a tap on the shoulder from ABC Radio and, 5 years later, I’m still the resident contributor on ABC North Coast’s Planes Passports and Postcards travel segment.

I’ve done some travel writing, and recently wrote and edited the Discover Abu Dhabi guide with Explore Media.

 

WICKED PICKLER

Pickles and Jams Award Winning Pickler

I’m an enthusiastic pickler and, come Bangalow Show time each November, you’ll find me in the kitchen up to my elbows in vinegar, sugar, cloves, mustard seeds, peppercorns and – wait!

You’ve heard enough already.

My onions are a multiple blue-ribbon winner at the annual Show, as are my cukes, and favoured condiments like mint-jelly, mustard pickles, beetroot relish and mock chicken.

Yep, mock chicken is a thing and the local CWA ladies think mine is especially delicious.

 

DRIVE-IN MOVIE OPERATOR

Drive-In Movie Theatre

Photo Credit: Lyn McCarthy/Niche Pictures

A little over a year ago, a conversation at the Bangalow Bowlo spawned an idea. With the nearest cinema in Byron Bay shutting its doors for a major re-development, why not bring back the drive-in?

So we built a website, booked the Bangalow Showground, found someone with a huge screen and all the tech, locked in some foodcarts, bought mountains of lollies and popcorn and choc-tops, put up a few posters, got ourselves on the radio, did letterbox drops, jumped on social media and Flicks in the Field was born.

And did they come? You bet they did. Since then, we’ve run our Flicks a couple of times.

Perhaps living in the country has provided some space in my life for bits on the side. I’m not sure my old city life with its daily commutes and traffic and stresses would have allowed for them.

A few years ago, if you told me I’d be living in a town full of clever, creative people 15 minutes from Byron Bay, running a drive-in cinema, nattering away on local radio, and picking up the Most-Successful-Exhibitor (Pickles and Preserves) rosette at the Bangalow Show, I would have said you had rocks in your head.

 

Brought to you by Resource

Resource connects businesses with a flexible workforce of creative freelancers ready to fill resource gaps in your business. They can be quick bits on the side, or something more permanent.

Workplaces are changing. Talented people are finding their skills are valued across a range of areas and are ditching the traditional conventions of 9-to-5 employment. Businesses are changing the way they view it, too. The so-called ‘gig-economy’ is thriving, enabling people to adapt work to their lives, not the other way around.

It’s the perfect set-up for a few bits on the side.

Do you have any quirky side-gigs? Tell us all about them!