Travel to Enhance Your Life
John Sachtouras, CEO of ASCIRA, has 16 passports and has travelled to more than a hundred countries. Why? Because he feels travelling is the most enriching and educational experience in the world. In the interview below, he gets candid about why travel is an opportunity to fall in love with oneself.
What was your first flight experience?
Growing up in Greece, my father was a tour operator who always involved me in receiving tourists, making them feel welcome and showing them around the place. So, at the age of 14, I was picking up passengers during transfers from the airport to the hotel. Soon I realized the importance of learning English and other foreign languages.
Back in 1978, at 18, I boarded my first flight – Air France from Athens to Paris. I was going to France for a student exchange program to improve my French. I remember it like yesterday. I was excited and scared at the same time. It was a liberating feeling to see the ground from up above. At that moment I realized that I love that feeling and hence decided to travel as much as I could.
Why is travel important for people?
An average person works 40 hours a week and comes back home to the same old grind. It is important to walk away from your mundane routine, explore how people live in other countries, mix with the locals, understand their customs and cultures. Traveling is one of the best experiences to acquire hands on knowledge.
We are human beings with spirit and energy. Our minds need constant excitement, and we must refresh it occasionally, by giving it different input. By travelling and gathering different experiences, we can help our minds to fall in love with ourselves again.
Since Covid has restricted travel, you can also explore your own country. A person living in Dubai would hardly go to Abu Dhabi or Fujairah for a vacation. But once a month, if you go for a staycation, just to walk away from your routine, it will help to rejuvenate your body an soul.
What are the safety precautions to take during travel?
In all my travels, I have lost my luggage quite a few times, been delayed at airports, had unpleasant stays at hotels etc. But the important thing to realize is that all these things are also part of making memories.
As a seasoned traveler, I would advise everyone to make sure all your documents are in order and take a good travel insurance. Apart from that, do a thorough research of the place you are visiting and read reviews of their hotels and other attractions.
Leave a contact address or number with people back home. If you are travelling by a taxi or other public transport, always take a picture of the number plate.
How safe is it to travel during the pandemic?
While official requisites of travel include PCR tests and vaccinations, there are certain aspects that you should take care of yourself. For instance, wearing masks, sanitizing and maintaining social distance is a courtesy you provide to yourself and your fellow travelers.
Another aspect is to be well informed about COVID 19 and not fear it. Do your research about the country you want to visit research and its travel guidelines. Also understand your own physical capacity. If you travel to an adventurous place and your body cannot withhold it, the whole purpose is lost.
How is ASCIRA Smart Travel different from other travel portals?
Like every other industry, there are levels of different companies in the travel industry which gives different services. First there are travel portals which give you a rate and you can make your choice. Or you could go to a travel agent who will take care of all your requirements. This is followed by tour operators which will give you a complete package. Then there are bulk operators who offer their services to tour operators and hotels.
ASCIRA Smart Travel is a gateway to all these services with just a click of a button. We are licensed by one of the largest wholesale companies and have over one million hotels and suppliers in our portfolio. So, you can get access up to 70% discount mainly in hotels, car rentals, cruises and vacation homes. It is an exclusive membership-based program which works 24/7.
Every time somebody purchases through smart travel, not only they will get the best price, but they also get to see the rates offered by the competition at the click of a button.
Apart from this, all purchases made through smart travel is accumulated as travel points which you can use to travel even more.
What makes Greece an ultimate tourist destination?
Greece is an archipelago of 3000 tiny islands and each of them have a unique story to tell. We have the darkest blue ocean and the best beaches in the world. It is the best place to unwind and make memories. For instance, I love sitting in a café in Santorini and watching the sunset, it’s a feeling I will never forget.
If you like history, you can visit the archaeological Museum of Athens. If you like exploring, there are many hidden gems to visit. For instance, in the city of Saloniki, there an area which used to be dominated by Arabs and was called the Emirates.
To put it simply, Greece is a great combination between the history and the present that will suit any kind of traveller.