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Flight Geek of the Week – Sam Baldwin

Flight Geek of the Week - Sam Baldwin

Introducing the flight search geeks that make Skyscanner work

1. What do you do at Skyscanner?
Write, edit and distribute most of Skyscanner’s press releases, travel features and news stories.

2. What kind of flight geek are you?
Propaganda geek.

3. What best generally describes your travel style?
I usually know where I want to go, but am flexible on when. Having lived for a couple of years in Japan (see: For Fukui’s Sake: Two years in rural Japan) and a year in Canada and seen a fair bit of those regions, I am now enjoying exploring more of Europe’s lesser known countries.

4. What’s your ideal holiday?
I love getting off the beaten path and visiting less well travelled locations. I just got back from a road trip around Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro; it was great to go somewhere a bit different.

I had all sorts of preconceptions about the Balkans but the trip went pretty smoothly. Apart from having to bribe the police, having to dig our van out of the snow multiple times, and the food poisoning.

5. Who’s your ideal travel companion?
My wife or my close friends. The types of trips I tend to go on often involve a bit of roughing it, so patience, a sense of humour and ability not to whinge are essential traits in my travel companions. I now have a select group who know what they’re getting into when they sign up for one of my ‘holidays’.

6. Do you fly with children?
Not yet. Like most people without kids, I’m never overjoyed about sitting near a screaming child, but I have a lot of respect for parents that don’t let kids stop them from travelling. I hope I’ll show the same spirit when the time comes.

7. How do you decide where you want to go?
I’m a big fan of visiting friends who are living abroad. Having a ‘local’ guide is the best way to see a place; the free accommodation also helps. Over the last few years I’ve visited friends in Hong Kong, Ireland, Germany, Malaysia, Austria and Australia and had some of my best trips this way.

8. How do you decide when you want to go?
I’m at my happiest when I’m on snow, so winter is the busiest time for my travels. I try to get to the mountains several times a year, whether that be on home turf (the Scottish Highlands) or further afield.

9. What annoys you most about planning holidays?
I don’t really like booking accommodation; the price of hotels always annoys me and it’s rare that I’m impressed by a hotel. The big chains seem massively overpriced and I’ve been consistently disappointed even by so called 4 or 5 star hotels. I’ve learned that the best places to stay are often smaller, family run hotels, B&Bs or apartments.

10. What are you doing in your job at Skyscanner to sort that?
We already have a hotel search function, and we’re also planning a new and improved “travel article” section which will feature more accommodation recommendations.

11. What’s your favourite thing about the Skyscanner site?
Like many people – I love the “month view”. I use it all the time to find the cheapest days to fly.

12. What’s your dream feature?
Being able to group your departure or destination airports. For example, being able to say that you can fly from Edinburgh OR Glasgow, to Ljubljana OR Klagenfurt. This is in the pipeline though.

13. Favourite websites apart from Skyscanner and why?
I spend a fair bit of time on Amazon – I love reading the book reviews. I also like GoneBoarding.co.uk – a forum about snowboarding. I frequently visit the travel sections of the UK national papers – such as The Guardian, Times and Telegraph. I also run my own snow travel site – SnowSphere.com.

14. What’s the geekiest thing about you? Your secret geek shame?
I’m a bit of a collector geek; I have kept every single ski lift pass I’ve ever had, dating from my first snowboarding trip in 1997 in Andorra, through to the present year. My collection now includes ski passes from Kashmir, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Macedonia and Montenegro.

15. Worst travel experience?
I’ve had some nasty moments in some far flung corners of the world (Indian planes dropping from the sky, Chinese deathwish taxi drivers and overeager security staff in Japanese airports) but my least favourite travel experience was on a Greyhound bus going across Canada.

Following 36 sleepless hours in a coach seat surrounded by crack addicts, a gibbering old woman obsessed with brushing her teeth, and a lumberjack psychopath, I now know why sane people prefer to fly.

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