With over 80 countries on her travel map and counting, Goway Asia General Manager Diane Molzan is a globetrotter in full flight. We caught up with Diane during this enforced time on the ground for her insights into travel, all things Asia, and beyond.
How long have you been in the travel industry?
I landed my first travel job in 1998 as a travel agent selling loads and loads of Cuba. I swear, I didn’t really know what I was doing! I managed to find a small, family-run agency that allowed me the freedom to learn as I went along. They gave me just enough rope. It wasn’t long before I realized that I wanted to specialize in adventure travel. Cruise ships and all-inclusives just weren’t my bag. I think I lasted only a summer before I found my home at a tour operator selling the world.
Where were you born?
Petrolia, Ontario. Home of the first oil well in North America, I’ll have you know if you didn’t already.
How many countries have you visited?
80 and counting. On all 7 continents.
Why did you start your career in travel?
You know how when you are growing up, sometimes siblings joke and say, “You know you were adopted, right?” My brother was no different except I was sure he was right! I couldn’t work out how I landed in a small farming community in Southern Ontario when I couldn’t wait to travel the world. In grade 2, I did this project on how I was going to travel to Thailand and hang out with the elephants. I was perpetually prepping to run away from home. I even had my stick with my red sock tied at the end always sitting ready to go by the back door. Anyway, fast forward a few years, I turned 21, downing tequila shots in a hostel in Bondi Beach, Australia. I spent a year travelling between Australia and then throughout Asia (this was during the Gulf War) only to return to Canada long enough to repack and head out for a 2-year stint beginning in Mexico and ending up in the streets of Salvador, Brazil for Carnival.
Yeah, I’m a travel junkie alright. And I always believed the adage “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” So I’m here, at Goway, living the dream!
Since it seems you’ve been almost everywhere, what made you choose the position of General Manager of Goway Asia?
I do love travelling to all continents but Asia has always been a big draw for me. Latin America would be second. Ironically, I’m an introvert who loves people. I carry my DSLR with me everywhere, along with a decent lens. I crouch down and people watch. The cultures of Asia contain a rich character that you can see in people’s faces. Behind the wrinkles are stories that fascinate me. From the saffron hues in the robes and the smells of cardamom in the markets, I am inexplicably pulled towards its spiritual charm. Even as I type this, I’m thinking of all the tasks I need to complete by the end of the day when really, I wish I was rounding a bend, coming face to face with a mountain goat somewhere in the Himalayas. But that time will come. I know I just need to be patient.
What was the last vacation you went on?
Truthfully, Tahiti became my 80th visited country in January but shhhhh! I consider my last real adventure to be Central Asia last September (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan). I went on a reconnaissance mission to scour the Stans and open the area up for Goway for 2020. At least, that was the plan. I fell in love with the region and cannot wait to go back when I have more time. It brought me back to my early adventure days travelling with a backpack and feeling a bit more like a pioneer. The area is still largely unexplored by mainstream travellers and has phenomenal potential. This ezine is themed with history, so it’s a perfect fit that I’m talking about a trip where I retraced the steps of Marco Polo along the legendary Silk Road. It’s tough to get more ‘historic’ than that.
Any history buff will not be disappointed by the following trips:
The Best of Central Asia
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan Explorer
The Legendary Silk Road: Across Central Asia by Private Train
If you were going to the airport (once COVID-19 has passed), where would you want to go?
My plan was to be in Bhutan this month. (April) It one of the last Asian frontiers I have yet to unravel. I’ll get there.
What advice would you give to a Travel Agent during these times?
Use this time as a gift. Often we are so busy with our 9 to 5 that we never find time to expand our knowledge and learn new skills. I would use my time creating resources that would set myself apart from my competition once it gets busy. I’d be writing ezine content and growing my database by offering value to my clients in the form of hosted webinars and downloadable travel checklists. It’s important to stay as visible and top of mind as possible. This time will come to an end and it will be like a gun going off at the start of the race. Don’t be the one caught tying your shoes when that happens.