Trip Prep Specialist
Where do you call home and what were you doing before Backroads?
I grew up on a remote farm in Northern Alberta but have been living in Canmore, AB for the past 4 years and consider it my home! Before Backroads I ran my own mobile coffee business for 3 years which I sold to free up more time to explore the mountains and travel. This past year I worked for a Heli-Skiing Company in the winter and Backroads in the summer and it has been one of the best years of my life!
What about the TPS position interested you?
To be honest, I had applied to be a Trip Leader with Backroads and was a little disappointed when I got offered the TPS position instead. I had limited knowledge about bikes and was under the impression that Trip Leaders had access to more opportunities, time off and travel. I reluctantly accepted the position and soon learned how wrong my outlook on the TPS role was!
I learned how to fix basic bike problems, which is empowering for a woman in a primarily male dominated industry. Besides that, it’s also just a great skill to have if you enjoy biking, which I do! I also had a flexible schedule which allowed me to go mountain biking, cycling, hiking and camping throughout the week and on weekends. Probably best of all, I got to meet some of the most amazing people I know through Backroads. Accepting a job with Backroads does not only mean you have an income but it also means you have a new family; one that is spread out across the world, comes from all walks of life, and is ready to take you on an adventure.
Where did you work this season?
I spent most of my summer in the Canadian Rockies with a couple weeks in the Gulf Islands. This fall I am scheduled in Europe with time in the Loire Valley, Provence and a week in Tuscany!
What were the overall highlights of the job/lifestyle?
Working with great people and having the flexibility to enjoy the beautiful places you get to work in. Trip Leaders often have a full, time consuming schedule, whereas the TPS role gives you the freedom to explore a region and engage in activities outside of Backroads and trips.
What was your best memory from your summer working for a travel company?
I have a lot of great memories from the summer, so it is hard to choose! I could say how amazing it is to be in France, drinking wine, eating croissants and cooking family dinners but one of my favorite memories took place at home in the Canadian Rockies. One Friday after working in the warehouse, everyone went home grabbed their mountain bikes and went out for a group ride followed by beers. There were more than 10 of us, all at different abilities, but yet riding together. There are not many companies that I know of where you can work together and then rally 10+ people to bike together.
What were some of the challenges of the job/lifestyle?
Being a TPS and working for Backroads comes with its challenges. The work itself can be a bit repetitive: prepping bikes, cleaning vans, inventorying trailers and you end up working with a variety of people who all have their quirks and systems in place. There are times you need to stand up for yourself and your opinions and times you will need to be flexible. One other challenge can be finding time/taking the time for yourself to recharge. Living full-time in a Field Staff House can be both a blessing and a curse. You always have lovely people to cook dinner with, socialize with and plan activities with but ‘escaping’ this social atmosphere to take time for yourself can be difficult. Eventually you learn what you need to stay grounded, but you’ll run into times where all you want to do is make pasta but will find four people already taking over the kitchen making past of their own!
Tell us about TPS training and the skills you learned as a TPS in the field!
During TPS training I learned a lot about bikes - from changing cables/housing to adjusting bike fit. I can now confidently diagnose problems and fix them! In the field, I continued to develop these skills more from working in a region with full-time bike mechanics and other TPS’s. Some other skills I learned was how to interact, work, and live with a large diverse group of people. I always thought of myself as an extrovert that had good social skills, but these skills developed so much more throughout the season.
What do you plan on doing next season?
I plan on returning as a TPS for another summer season and then possibly look to Trip Lead or move into an Operation Expert (a higher-level field role) position the 2020!
Do you have any insight or advice for anyone interested in applying for this position?
If you like to travel, meet new people and go biking then apply! When going into the hiring event and training, it is beneficial to have some biking experience. Most bike shops put on weekend courses and workshops and it is a great way to prepare yourself. Also, if you are interested in potentially getting winter work, start working on your Spanish :)
Overall experience working for a company like Backroads? What’s it like?
I feel like I’ve covered it all! Great people, great places, great experience.