Where it all started
In 1989, I quit my job, sold everything I had and headed off to explore the world. The sensation of being able to go anywhere, do anything and be answerable to no-one but myself was my first taste of the pure freedom you rarely feel anywhere other than on the road.
My exhilaration was hedged with a little trepidation, but hey, I was bullet-proof back then! Nevertheless, I took out a travel insurance policy to cover me for the couple of months I thought it would take me to head down to Australia. But, as with all the best travel plans, they changed: I ended up in China during the tumultuous summer of the Tiananmen Square massacre…with no insurance, and no means of getting any.
Over the next few years of travelling, I met many fascinating travellers, all sharing a spirit of adventure and that heady sense of freedom. It was a community of like minds that shifted loosely across the globe. But – this being pre-internet days – staying in touch was letter and post restante!
Then, in 1997, I bought worldnomads.com as my personal website address - thinking it sort of philosophically reflected who I was – and created one of the first travel blogs (before ‘blogging’ was invented) by faxing home the stories and sending the film canisters by courier! It was the first step toward establishing our community of world nomads and toward keeping us connected.
Even though I had a day job, in 2000 I was approached by Wayne Tregaskis and Michael McAuliffe to develop an online travel insurance service for backpackers. It was a market that everyone said was fraught with fraud, but we felt we could do things differently. As a bunch of passionate travellers ourselves, we figured we had a fair idea of what travellers needed and wanted. We decided to address the three key concerns: freedom, safety and connection.
My China experience back in ‘89 inspired the World Nomads core concept of being able to buy a travel insurance policy with the freedom to extend it and extend it again as you needed it: it was the first policy of its kind.
Since then, we’ve led the way down the road less travelled in the industry. We’ve grown and added lots more tools, products and services, all aimed at enabling our world nomads to live their adventures, travel safely and stay in touch.
Our community of world nomads has grown exponentially. It’s made up of adventurers – from rooky backpackers to long-term freedom-and-adrenaline junkies – holding over 150 different flavours of passport, from Azerbaijanian to Venezuelan.
Sharing their adventures is what drives us: from our own experiences, we’ve learned that travel is about pushing limits; challenging the status quo and your own perceptions; making connections; getting involved – and giving back.
These same principles are the fabric of our business.
These days, I’m travelling with my young family in tow (which I reckon is the best education for the world), but I – and all of us in the World Nomads office – are still passionate about travel. We live it, breathe it and most of our best ideas and innovations (such as Footprints) have evolved from our first-hand experiences on the road.
We want to be a part of every adventurous traveller’s journey.
“My vision was to drive innovation and create a great company while staying true to our values”