Whether it's exploring the Peruvian Amazon or swimming with turtles in the Galapagos Islands, Karly Cook is always down for an adventure.
As a Global Purpose Specialist (GPS) for G Adventures, it comes with the territory.
“I have had incredible opportunities to explore this amazing planet and I don't plan on slowing down!” says Cook, who just celebrated her two year anniversary with G.
Cook leaped into the travel industry immediately after graduating from the tourism program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Her first job was at Canada 3000 in the year 2000, and since then, she’s had no regrets.
“How could one ever leave this industry?” says Cook. “The awesome professionals I get to work with make a career in travel a dream come true.”
Cook, who lives in Vancouver’s Yaletown neighbourhood, loves the “fantastic” travel agents she gets to interact with on a daily basis.
“As a GPS, I work directly with travel agents to promote purpose, passion and happiness by changing people’s lives through travel,” says Cook, whose day consists of hitting the road to help train agents at their offices and at events.
“I love to talk to people about their favourite places and their travel wish lists,” Cook says. “It's also the dangerous part of the job – hearing inspiring travel stories only leads to adding more places to my list!”
Here, PAX checks in with the west coast travel pro to chat about her journey through Puru, a missing ruby from Nepal, and that unforgettable encounter she had with a flying bat.
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Karly Cook (KC): Swell water bottle, headphones/AirPods and my blanket scarf from Nepal.
PAX: What are your favourite vacation spots?
KC: I had the chance to visit the Galapagos in August 2018. Since it is a top destination at G Adventures, I thought I knew what to expect. I was absolutely blown away. Anything I hoped I would see, there was an abundance of! Swimming with sea turtles will be an experience I will never forget! I thought it would be a once in a lifetime place to visit but I left knowing I had to return one day.
Portugal. I attended a conference in Lisbon in 2015 and absolutely fell in love! The laid-back vibe, stunning cityscapes, friendly locals, and great food and wine made it a great place to visit. I want to go back and explore the rest of the country. Get me to the Algarve!
Peru is such an amazing place. I had the pleasure of hosting a group of incredibly fun travel agents on our National Geographic Journeys Machu Picchu and the Amazon tour last May. Our time was action-packed with visits to the Sacred Valley, completing the Lares trek and exploring the Peruvian Amazon. I loved it and I’m dying to go back and visit Northern Peru! It is an area of the country that not many people are travelling to and it looks really cool! I want to check out the Kuelap Fortress and Gocta waterfall.
PAX: What’s your favourite airport?
KC: YVR [Vancouver]. It's beautiful, functions well, and is always ready to wish me a bon voyage or to welcome me home.
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever took?
KC: First time getting on a plane was a family trip to Walt Disney World when I was 12. I remember going to the travel agency with my Dad and getting a map of the park. My brother and I poured over that map in the weeks leading up and knew it like the back of our hands! We waited three hours to ride Indiana Jones. This was long before FastPass was a thing.
PAX: What’s the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on a trip?
KC: I had a beautiful ruby ring made for me in Nepal. Within about a week of returning home, I was going out for dinner. I parked the car, reached into my purse for something and the ruby came out of the setting never to be seen again.
PAX: What’s the most memorable meal you’ve ever eaten while travelling?
KC: Most memorable would probably be the last morning on the Lares trek. We were all too tired the night before for a big meal so the cooks got up extra early and put on the most epic breakfast for us including quinoa pancakes, hot chocolate, pizza and even birthday cake! If you want to eat well, come trekking in Peru with G!
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
KC: When people do not respect personal space on an airplane. Especially if you are the middle person and window and aisle have their elbows on your armrests!
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
KC: I am a very fast walker, I am excellent at cleaning as I go when cooking, and my dog Stella thinks I give exceptional pets.
PAX: Checked bag or carry-on?
KC: Three nights or less, carry on. Any more than that and my big bag is coming with me!
PAX: What's your funniest travel anecdote?
KC: This is one of those funny after the fact tales. In 2014, I travelled through Nicaragua with a couple of girlfriends. We had an awesome time exploring Leon, San Juan del Sur, Ometepe, and Granada. On our last night in Granada, we were staying at this beautiful converted mansion and outside our room was a large open courtyard.
That night we were sitting on the couch outside our room as dusk was starting to settle. Dusk however, brought out the bats. They were flying around the open courtyard right over our heads. After a couple minutes, the bat activity stopped and I got off the couch to head down the hallway. All of a sudden, I was hit smack in the face by a flying bat. I immediately started shrieking and crying; convinced that my days were over as I probably had rabies. After some quick google searches, my friends decided that I was probably fine and if not, it was too late anyways.
Moral of the story: do not let people tell you it’s impossible to get hit by a bat because of sonar. It is unlikely, but definitely possible!
PAX: What should travel agents know right now about G Adventures?
KC: This is a great time to be booking G Adventures for your travellers! We have some fantastic agent incentives in place. First up is our Change Makers challenge. Agents can earn their spot by changing lives through booking travel (Oct. – Mar.), completing a social submission, or being the top selling agent in Canada for February! Agents will be rewarded with an incredible week-long summit where they will get to see first-hand how selling trips built on purpose impacts the communities they send travellers to.
Also, G-Normous is in full swing! Every booking made between Jan 1 and April 30th will be eligible for free trips, cash, and more prizes! Plus, we have some exclusive offers your travellers can take advantage of.
Now more than ever we are finding travellers who are looking to do something different. They don't want a cookie cutter experience – they are looking for something real, authentic, and off the beaten path. With more than 100 countries and more than 700 itineraries, we have something for everyone!
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