Dr Geoff Ramin, Allianz Global Assistance’s Chief Medical Officer takes time out of his duties to tell us why you should never travel without duct tape and why the world is on his bucket list.
1. When and how did you get started in travel?
I first started working within the travel industry around 10 years ago. My main medical interests have always been related to aeromedical retrieval, critical care, pre-hospital or out of hospital care, travel medicine and wilderness medicine.
Working with Allianz Global Assistance (AGA) is a great opportunity to utilise the skills and knowledge I have gained in these areas over the last thirty years.
2. What’s your most amazing travel experience?
My most amazing travel experience was in 1984 when I was the only British member of a joint Russian/Australian mountaineering expedition to climb the Fann Mountains in Tajikstan’s Sughd Province. This was in the days prior to the breakup of the USSR and access to Westerners was very limited.
We were the first Westerners to be officially invited into the country to climb a number of 5,000 metre plus peaks. Travel there included exploring parts of the Silk Road and the amazing cities of Dushanbe and Samarkand.
3. What is the weirdest job you’ve ever had?
When I left school at 18 I took a gap year prior to starting medical school. In a pub in London one night I got into a conversation with a chap who ran an advertising company. For no obvious reason, by the end of the evening he had decided he liked my quirky nature and employed me for six months as a copywriter.
Not exactly weird, other than the way it happened and the fact that I had zero relevant experience. It did help me fund my next six months of travel, which included a road trip from Florida to Sacramento.
4. What was the first country you travelled to?
The first country I visited was Greece. My mother worked for a travel company called Clarkson’s at the time and travelled all over the world.
I went to school in London and would be put on a plane by my grandparents each school holiday to go wherever my mum was at the time. So I had the travel bug well and truly by the time I was seven.
5. What destinations are on your bucket list?
There are so many places on my bucket list and I have realised that life is way too short to see and visit even a fraction of the amazing places in the world.
As an avid trekker I particularly want to go and walk the West Coast Trail – a rugged adventure on Vancouver Island. Other notable places include Iceland, the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia, a mountain called Carstensz Pyramid in Western Papua and Jordan.
6. Who was your biggest mentor/influence growing up?
There are many people who influence you throughout your life in many different ways. When I was at primary school I was very much considered an underachiever and my teachers certainly kept pointing this out.
But I recall one teacher who was extremely supportive and who believed in my capabilities and future potential. She gave me a very inspiring “pep talk” on my last day before moving to secondary school, which really changed my entire motivation and approach to school.
7. How has working in travel changed you?
It’s a cliché but travel does broaden the mind. It also makes me appreciate how privileged I am to live where I do and to have had the opportunities I have had throughout my life.
Travel makes me realise that despite all the advances in the world very few people on a global basis have these sort of opportunities and that is truly humbling.
Every trip makes me appreciate my life and teaches me not to take anything for granted. Travel also exposes you to the rich cultural diversity of life but also teaches you that people of all races, culture and religion are in reality very similar in regards to their needs and desires.
8. What is your biggest life achievement to date?
My biggest life achievement is having helped raise two amazing daughters who have inherited my love of travel but who have remained well-grounded, resilient and empathic individuals.
9. What is your number one in-flight travel tip?
My number one in-flight travel tip is to drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol even if it’s free and get out of your seat frequently. A big part of why people feel so lethargic after a long flight relates to poor hydration.
10. Your one tip for new cruisers?
My tip for cruisers is essentially the same as for all travellers. Never leave home without duct tape :). It’s probably a topic for another occasion but duct tape has a thousand uses for the traveller including many potential medical applications.
11. What advice would you give to someone starting out in the travel industry?
If starting out in the travel industry, I firmly believe you need to love travel and be a traveller yourself. That’s the only way you can truly appreciate what other travellers are going through and the situations and problems they may encounter.
This is particularly true when helping to manage the medical problems that may occur overseas. If you are intending to work as a doctor in the travel industry it is also important to gain skills and knowledge across the diverse spectrum of medical practice.
You will have to help manage everything from simple primary health care through to life threatening emergencies, and patients in first-world highly developed health systems through to those in extremely isolated environments with zero access to local care.
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Getting to Know You is our good will gesture to promote the TIME program. The TIME program is focused on a Mentor/Mentee relationship that is ‘mentee-driven’. Mentors are drawn from the senior ranks of the industry and have generously volunteered their time and energy to the mentor process. They are matched to Mentees on the basis of non-conflicting business skills and experience that enables them to offer advice and perspective to the Mentee. The role of the Mentor is to hold their Mentee accountable and to offer challenging ideas that will inspire the Mentee, helping to building the individuals self confidence through praise, encouragement and constructive feedback.
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