armchair traveler diaries Armchair Traveler Diaries: Ian Swain's Dispatch from Philadelphia

Armchair Traveler Diaries: Ian Swain's Dispatch from Philadelphia

Though he’s lived in Philadelphia for more than 30 years, native Aussie Ian Swain owns Swain Destinations, a Virtuoso tour operator that specializes in custom travel to Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Africa, and India. These days he’s hosting a podcast and planning a trip to visit his new granddaughter.

What is life like for you right now?
I’m the Philadelphia suburbs, where we’ve been on lockdown since March 13.

Where are you working these days?
We live in a 200-year-old house, and the room that we affectionately call “the computer room” is now Swain’s Central Command – little did the builders know what would become of this space back then! Watch a video recording of my podcast series, and you’ll see it in action.

What’s your typical day like now?
My days feel very robotic. What day is it anyway? During the first four weeks of the pandemic, we were busy rebooking all of our clients’ travel plans. Now, we’re planning for recovery and working on new bookings.

What do you do to stay sane?
Who said I was ever sane? I move around, walk outside, grocery shop, and take part in plenty of Zoom calls.

What are you watching, reading, listening to?
Well, I’d say my computer screen mainly – it’s been quite busy!  

What travel plans have you put on hold for the pandemic?
So many! My son’s wedding – originally planned for Tuscany – has been postponed and moved to Philadelphia. I didn’t get to visit my new granddaughter in Australia or attend some of my favorite gatherings, like the annual World Travel & Tourism Council Summit in Mexico, the Australian Tourism Exchange in Melbourne, and the TRENZ conference in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Down under delight: Australia’s Byron Bay.
Down under delight: Australia’s Byron Bay.
Photo by Florence Rol/Getty Images 
Where do you want to go when travel is possible again?
There are too many places to list, but first I want to go to Mooloo, a little community near the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, to see my new granddaughter.

What do you miss most about Australia?
Apart from the meat pies and vegemite, I miss the Aussie sense of life.
The parts of the world you most like to show travelers.
All of it – even if I don’t arrange travel there. Everyone deserves to see it all!

A favorite travel memory that’s top of mind right now?
The last time my wife, Linda, and my entire family was together, in Byron Bay, Australia. It was a grand total of 15 people.

Your best feel-good moment since all this started?
When we were awarded the Virtuoso Performance award –just for doing what we do! It was nice to be recognized amid everything going on.

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