After our successful Q&A with Kristin we have cornered GeoEx director Adam Vaught for his opinions. Born and raised in Southern California, Adam left after finishing his undergraduate work at UCLA. He then spent four years living in Japan and Cambodia, before leading cycling/hiking trips throughout Latin America and Western Europe. He’s also worked on consulting projects in India, Patagonia, Burma, Morocco, and Peru. During a two-year residence in Argentina, Adam earned a master’s degree in international development from Georgetown University. He currently works as the Director of the Americas for GeoEx. When he’s not sitting behind his computer you can find Adam exploring the Marin Headlands, baking cookies with his grandmother, or researching his next trekking trip in South America.
Who or what gave you the travel bug?
I grew up taking ski/snowboarding trips with my family. They were great, but we almost never did anything outside of California. My first year of college a Spanish professor encouraged me to sign up for a summer program in Barcelona and next thing I knew I was on my out of the country for the first time. Mid way through a five week stay out there I remember thinking that Barcelona was the greatest place on earth. Then I realized it was the only place I had ever seen. From that moment I was hooked and travel became a driving force in my life.
What made you move from hobbyist to professional?
In 2006, I was living in Japan and planning a trip to South East Asia. I found an organization called The PEPY Ride that had a few spaces on cycling trip that departed from Siem Reap and ended in Phnom Penh. It sounded exactly like what I was looking for so I booked. The trip was amazing, but what I was most impressed with were the people involved in the organization and the work they were doing in some rural communities.
A few months after arriving back in Japan PEPY’s founder reached out and offered to bring me on as an intern. I jumped at the opportunity and flew back to Phnom Penh to join a group of five other people who were running the NGO. We divvied up the responsibilities as we saw best and I ended up the organization’s accountant and trip ops coordinator. My accounting career turned out to be short lived, but the trip ops job worked out pretty well and next thing I knew I was working in travel consulting and leading high end cycling trips around the world.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Hmmm, so many favorites come to mind:
Favorite place to live: The Bay Area
Favorite place to aimlessly explore: Spain
Favorite place for natural beauty: Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Favorite place to eat: Japan
Favorite place for a day hike: Quilotoa, Ecuador
Favorite place for a long trek: Torres del Paine, Chile
Favorite city: Berlin
Favorite museum: La Reina Sofia, Madrid
All that said, if I had to pick one place to return to it would definitely be Sarajevo, so maybe that’s my favorite place.
What three things can you not travel without?
My Nikon, My Rainbow Sandals and Lots of comfy t-shirts
Describe your dream trip if money was no object?
An around the world ticket and a backpack with just the right amount of clothing to be comfortable regardless of the conditions.
Who would be your ideal travel companion?
Someone who doesn’t mind winging it and filling in the details along the way, responds to adversity by laughing, is willing to take risks and doesn’t mind doing a lot of walking.
What is your top travel tip for our readers?
Hitchhike. It often leads to great stories.
Thanks for your time Adam!
If you think Adam is as cool as we do take a look at www.geoex.com