This week we get to know Damian Cerini, founder/food and wine taster at Tour de Vines as he remembers his first role at Kathmandu and travelling in East Africa.
1. How long have you been in the industry, what and where was your first job?
I was a marketer out of Uni but after the post Uni ‘big trip’ – which lasted 3 years – I realised I wanted to work in travel. Funnily enough, my first real travel role was in Kathmandu, Nepal as a sales & marketing guy with a small adventure travel business. That was over 20 years ago. I’m hooked!
2. What’s your most amazing travel experience (one of them anyway)?
I have been so lucky in terms of travel so that is a very hard question. Experiences that stand out include climbing a serious mountain in Nepal; a cycling tour in Bordeaux, France; trekking in the Torres del Pain in Chile; 5 weeks in East Africa including Zanzibar were all amazing.
3. What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?
Weird is a tough brief but I was a DJ for a few months in an Istanbul disco which isn’t really where I thought I’d be, but the tips were great!!
4. What’s the first ever country you travelled to? What was your experience like?
Hawaii was my first international trip and it was a bit of a fly and flop holiday, not something I have repeated to be honest, although have been back to Hawaii a few times and it’s a brilliant destination.
5. What’s on your wish list of places to visit?
Where do you start!? It would be hard to leave out Antartica from a wish list, but Nordic Europe, and incredibly South Africa which I haven’t visited would have to be on the list as well.
6. Who was your biggest mentor/influence growing up?
My first travel boss in Nepal was an adventure junkie, a world famous kayaker that had a zest for life and adventure I haven’t seen matched since. He inspired me to pursue dreams and to live an adventurous life.
7. How has working in travel changed you?
Travel has definitely given my perspective. I’m well past ticking off cities and to do lists when I travel, it is very much a more holistic experience for me. Having travelled in some of the poorest countries in the world and seen some of the happiest people that literally have nothing, those travel experiences have guided my outlook on life and to know what’s important and what isn’t.
8. What’s your biggest life achievement to date?
Recently starting my own business Tour de Vines has been a huge challenge and getting to our second year has been a great achievement.
9. What’s one in-flight tip you always give to new travellers?
Forget the movies, read a book about where you are going, even if it’s fiction. Knowing something about the culture and history of the place you are visiting can make a huge difference to your experience.
10. What’s your favourite destination?
I’m in love with France at the moment. It might be Italy next year as we are launching a new range of Tour de Vines cycling tours there soon. Tour de Vines has 7 tours with 32 departures in France and every one of them are incredible experiences.
11. What advice would you give to someone starting out in the travel industry?
Go for it, don’t get too hung up on the exact role type, get in, learn how the industry works and you will progress.
Have a question for Damian on wine or his travel experiences? Leave it below and we’ll get you the answer.
Born in north east Victoria on the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail in 2002, Tour de Vines today provides food & wine based cycling tours all across Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Our mantra has stayed the same however. Easy, safe cycling with a focus on experiencing cellar door and gourmet treats from the stunning wine regions we visit. Our cycling tours are all inclusive, with exclusive access to winemakers and farm gates, so all you need to do is cycle the well laid trails, and sample the sumptuous local delights, knowing Tour de Vines has selected the best each region has to offer.
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