Travel Warrior

4/24/2012 2:25:30 PM

Maurice Holloway poses in front of a Buddhist temple in Thailand. The Aircraft Maintenance Engineer’s work on rotary aircraft takes him around the world and back again.

On a mild, snowless Nov. 24 night, Maurice Holloway was opening Christmas gifts with wife Laurie and four-month-old daughter Sydney at their home in Gander. The Holloways didn’t misread the calendar, nor did they get so excited about Santa’s impending arrival that they moved the Yuletide season ahead a month. Like tens of thousands of Newfoundlanders, Maurice lives in the province but works abroard. So while the rest of us were hoisting the eggnog this past Christmas, Maurice was clocking in 7,000 miles away.
After graduating from the College of the North Atlantic’s Aircraft Maintenance Engineering program in 2001, Maurice, like so many of his graduating class, was snapped up before he could even get his diploma framed. In his seven years working abroad, the Bloomfield, Bonavista Bay native has worked on every populated continent in the world, save for Africa. We’ll even grant him bragging rights for Antarctica by virtue of his current work in the Falkland Islands, hanging off the coast of Argentina (it’s not Antarctica, per se, but Maurice saw penguins there, so close must count for something). To provide some context, Newfoundland is, give or take a bit, on the 48th parallel north, while The Falklands is 52 south. Maurice flies from Gander to London to catch a 16-hour charter flight. Let us all resolve never complain of our morning commute again.
Over the years, his passport has been stamped with some pretty exotic destinations – Azerbaijan, Burma (now known as Myanmar), Venezuela, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, France and England. And while work is work, he also gets the opportunity to explore some of the world’s most far flung of places and enjoy new cultures and adventures along the way. He took time to answer some questions from Stanley, Falkland Islands.
How do you cope with being away for lengthy periods, especially with a young family?
It’s the hardest thing to deal with when working abroad. Thankfully, the internet and technology bring the world closer together. Applications like Video Skype and Facetime allow you to both talk with and see your family, which makes things slightly easier.
Some of the places you work are under Canadian Embassy travel advisories. How do you stay safe?
Take the time to research the country you’re visiting before you travel. Beyond that, you just need to use common sense and be careful not to put yourself in dangerous situations.
Window or aisle?
Aisle. I hate asking people to move so I can get out of my seat.
What do you always take on the plane?
I always fly with my Bose noise cancelling headphones. It’s nice to be able to drown out what is happening around you. They do a great job of killing ambient plane noise and the sound quality is exceptional for music or movies. The headphones help me sleep, too.
Which frequent flyer program perk is most important to you?
Airline lounge access is a must. Being able to have a shower and a quick bite to eat at a Maple Leaf or Star Alliance partner lounge makes the next leg of a long journey a little more comfortable.
You encounter some crazy time zone changes on your travels. How do you battle jet lag?
Drink lots of water and keep hydrated. Always set your watch to your destination’s time zone as soon as you start your flight.
Can you recommend any good smart phone apps for frequent travelers?
Tripadvisor, Tripit, and Viber are my most used apps when travelling. Most everyone knows about Tripadvisor. Tripit basically grabs your hotel, flight and other travel reservation emails and automatically creates a personal travel itinerary for you with everything in one convenient place. Viber lets you send free text messages and phone calls internationally to other Viber users. So if you’re keeping in touch with family regularly, it’s a godsend. I recommend it to anyone working abroad.
What’s the dodgiest situation you’ve found yourself in while abroad?
Forfeiting my passport to police in Caracas, Venezuela, made for the longest hour of my life.
What’s your favorite place in all of your travels?
Myanmar is by far my favorite. It’s a beautiful country with such a rich history and it’s still untouched by outside influence.
What kind of souvenirs do you bring home?
I love to buy art, but travelling home with a painting can be pretty difficult.
Of all the countries you’ve visited, where would you recommend for people traveling for leisure?
Any of the Asian countries I have worked in are well worth visiting. The climate, culture and great beaches makes for a wonderful vacation. The only downside is the long travel to and from the continent, but the experience more than makes up for it.
You have the opportunity to sample some pretty exotic local cuisine abroad. What menu items were good, and not so good?
Any Thai food is fantastic. On the other side, I can’t recommend the deep fried beetles they had as bar snacks in Myanmar.
How do you explain to someone in Caracas or Phuket or Baku where Newfoundland is? Do they have even the slightest clue?
I usually say that it’s a small island off the east coast of Canada. Most people nod their head in acknowledgement but I suspect they haven’t a clue where I’m talking about.
Do you find that once you get home, you can’t stomach the thought of a vacation involving flying somewhere?
Oh, for sure. I really don’t want to see another airport until I have to head back to work, but my wife has a different opinion!
If I went to Venezuela, what must I see?
The only downside of working in these countries is that you don’t have much time to take in the attractions. You are there for work, first and foremost. I never got there, but I have heard that Angel Falls, the world’s highest waterfall, is a must see.
How about in Azerbaijan?
Visit the Maiden Tower. It’s part of the walled city of Baku, dating back to the 12th Century.
I understand you were in Monaco on a day off. You also mentioned you were looking for a boat. Are the two connected?
I wish! The yachts there are pretty impressive, but the ones with the helicopter pads are well out of my price range.
What’s your dream destination; your “bucket list” vacation?
A trip to Africa is on my wish list. Through the years, I’ve become good friends with a number of people from South Africa. They want my family and I to visit and I hope to take them up on that offer.
After all those years of travel, and so many miles logged, how do you view your job’s travel requirements? Is it a blessing or a curse?
It’s a little of both. You go where you work. The long flights are the necessary evil in order to enjoy the sights the world has to offer and get the job done.
Reprinted with permission from Fly Gander.