Jaharn Giles: Mr Weekender Interview

Mr Weekender_Munich_6.1Jaharn is the prime example on how to make the most of each 24 hours each day. Experiencing and exploring as much as the world as possible, she has collected a pool of knowledge into the travel industry. After a 2 year stint at Virgin Australia Cabin Crew team, working as a travel obsessed publicist and exploring the cities and beach towns of Europe, she now resides in Sydney, Australia. There are 52 weekends every year, so there is no excuse to wait for annual leave to travel.

In November, 2012 Jaharn launched her travel blog Mr Weekender. A website filled with the love for travel and a range of reviews and tips about travel, accommodation, airline, holidays style, packing, beauty, health and many more.

She has also contributed to Australia’s leading luxury health and lifestyle website Sporte Luxe, Jetstar and MTV Travel Co. Jaharn has recently announced that she is the Ambassabor of the Broke Forwich Wine Region in NSW, as well as working closely with  Tourism Tasmania and Tourism Queensland.

This upcoming weekender, you will be able to follow Jaharn’s adventures on Mr Weekender, as she hikes and explores through Tasmania, thanks to Tourism Tasmania.

Today, 24wanderlust was fortunate enough to talk to Jaharn Giles and get her insight into the world of travel and her incredible website Mr Weekender.

What makes Mr Weekender different to other travel blogs?

Jaharn – Whilst Mr Weekender is a website dedicated to inspiring travel, I am constantly in search of fresh travel related content by showcasing the best destinations our globe has on offer. Family and friends know me as a ‘weekender crusader’. Often or not, people get stuck in the daily grind and forget to leave their ‘bubble’ regularly, which is something I plan on changing! You don’t need a lot of money, time or organisation skills to head off on a weekender. All you need is a map and an open mind. I hope Mr Weekender inspires those who are time poor to look around them, get out of the city and have an adventure. There are 52 weekends every year, so there is no excuse to wait for annual leave to travel.

Why did you decide to begin Mr Weekender?

Jaharn – When I was studying full time at university, I worked for Virgin Australia in the Cabin Crew team for two years. I’ve always had a sense of adventure and love doing many things at once, which I have no doubt in my mind is something I inherited from my mother.

Following this I moved to London for two years, which allowed me to travel around Europe extensively. After returning home to Australia and often having family and friends asking me for travel advice, I soon realised how valuable and rewarding it was to share my travel experiences and knowledge, and thought – why not create a travel website full of tips, advice and destinations for everyone to be a part of.

From that simple thought, Mr Weekender was created in November 2012. A website dedicated to travel, Mr Weekender is an all-you-need travel guide and provides tips and advice on travel, airlines, accommodation, holiday style, luxury travel, packing, beauty, health, fitness, technology, activities and dining.

When you were in high school, what were you aspiring to do afterwards and how has that changed since then?

Jaharn – When I was in high school, I dreamed of having a career in fashion. It was my aspiration to work in the fashion team for a fashion magazine. Whilst I was working at Virgin Australia and studying, I would fly down to Sydney on my days off (I was living in Brisbane at the time) and work as an intern for Cleo magazine, Cosmo magazine and Marie Claire magazine. It was a brilliant experience and laid the foundations for my public relations degree. Whilst I didn’t end up working in a fashion magazine, I have been very lucky to work as a publicist for some incredible fashion brands in Australia and the UK.

What advice would you give to young or aspiring writers?

Jaharn – Get started. Take a writing course. Form a network of other likeminded writers. Start a blog or website. Speak to as many people as possible. Get your name out there. Write as much as you can, even if it’s for free for the first few times. Build your portfolio and write for as many publications as you can.

Who is your favourite travel writer and why?

Jaharn – My favourite travel writer is a journalist I met on a media famil last year. He is living my dream – he lives a quiet life with his wife in a little cottage on an island off the coast of Queensland, his children have moved out of home, he travels the world and commissions his stories to some of the most highly read newspapers and magazines in Australia and abroad. His style of writing is what I aspire to and his photography is breathtaking. We’re friends on Facebook and we’ve stayed in touch ever since.

Where, when and what was your first travel experience?

Jaharn – My first travel experience was at the ripe old age of six. I went to Fiji with my parents and sister. I remember it being a fun trip filled with lots of swimming and activities, such as watching Fijians walk on fire, learning how to make hats and baskets using long, thin palm leaves, trying my first coconut, and saying Bula Bula to everyone who walked past me. The eye of a cyclone passed over the island during our holiday and it literally rained every day we were there, but I didn’t have a care in the world. I was in Fiji!

What has the most valuable life lesson you have learnt from travelling?

Jaharn – Be organised and practice safe travel. Whilst I love the unknown of travelling, I always have a plan and let my family know where I am and where I am going each day. I was in London on the day of the terrorist bombings. My friend and I were catching an overland line into Victoria Station. I had organised to meet another friend at Topshop on Oxford Circus and she called my mobile on her way in letting me know that there had been an electrical failure on her train and it had stopped. We agreed to meet her at Topshop and told her to take her time. When we got to Victoria Station we jumped on a double decker bus because all of the trains had been cancelled. We were sitting on the top level at the very front of the bus and I can remember seeing literally thousands of people spilling out of the train station and trying to get on various buses. It really was a sight to behold.

My then boyfriend called me to see how my trip was and I told him that there had been an electrical fault and all trains to Victoria Station had been cancelled. After a few minutes we hung up. The bus drove towards Oxford Circus and we went into Topshop. I’ll always remember how quiet it was, which struck me as odd because it’s the busiest retail store on Oxford St. We were trying on some clothes in the change rooms and a shop assistant told us that there had been some bombings, 200 people were dead and that the store was closing. I remember being in complete shock. My first thoughts immediately went to our safety. When we walked out of the store, my friend and I had to put a plan in place. We had to figure out how were we getting home and how were we going to telephone our parents. It was a very stressful situation made worse by not knowing where our friend was.

All mobile networks had shut down their services so we couldn’t use our mobile phones. Google Maps wasn’t yet available on mobile phones, plus we couldn’t use them anyway. So we had to rely on our trusty printed map of London and walk from Oxford Circus to Victoria Station. We got lost along the way a couple of times, we walked past Bond St station where one of the bombs went off on a train and we walked past the street where a bomb on the bus exploded – but we didn’t know this at the time. We did however have to genuinely think about our route to Victoria Station. We chose to avoid all major monuments incase they were being targeted and after a few hours finally arrived at the station. Along the way we managed to find a public telephone that was working so we called our panicked families to let them know we were ok and found out my friend who we were meeting at Topshop was safe and sound.

We waited at Victoria Station for a few hours until finally we were able to get on an overland train and head home. I remember it being a very tense experience with people feeling very worried and aggressive towards each other. Everyone was looking at each other with terse eyes, analyzing the bags everyone was carrying and fearing for their safety. We finally made it home safely and it wasn’t until the early hours of the morning that the mobile networks switched back on and text messages and phone messages came pouring in on our mobile phones. We were very lucky that day.

Where is your favourite place in Australia and why?

Jaharn – Such a tough question! My favourite place in Australia is Uluru. I went to the outback last year with a friend and it was one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life. You can read all about it here!

What’s next?! What are you plans or aspirations for the future?

Jaharn – The last couple of months have been a whirlwind since launching the new look website for Mr Weekender. 2014 is going to be an exciting year and there are a few exciting projects coming up, so you’ll have to wait and see!

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