Getting to Know the Office Team at ToursByLocals

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ToursByLocals has been extremely busy this summer, and recently brought on board a new Customer Service Specialist to help out in the Vancouver office. Matthew Cooke has worked in the tourism industry for several years, and been a veteran traveler since his first visit to Africa at 10 years old. He is gifted at making new friends wherever he goes, and his travels are always enriched with local experiences.

We thought we’d interview Matthew today, so if you ever find yourself speaking to him on the phone or by email, you’ll know exactly who you’re talking to.

Where was the last place you traveled, Matthew?

Colombia and Venezuela are the last places I visited, in April of this year. I flew into Cartagena, found my way to Medellin and bought a used road bike to cycle-tour through the Colombian Andes.

If you could return to one place you’ve already been, where would it be?

I would go back to Ha Long, Vietnam, although definitely in the springtime. And Mumbai - the most intriguing city I've ever visited is endlessly fascinating and always exciting.

Where do you think you’ll go next?

While I've done more than my fair share of traveling this year, I'm probably going to Crater Lake, Oregon at the end of the summer. As far as overseas, I want to go to Japan, very badly.

Can you tell us your Top 3 “bucket list” destinations?

This is a hard one to answer! Talking to travelers about tours all day, I'm always finding someplace new I have to visit. I’m going to give you two sets: my “wild” places list and my “urban” list:

Wild/remote places: Mt Roraima, Venezuela; Haida Gwaii (a.k.a. Queen Charlotte Islands, Canada); Diving the Red Sea

I like teeming cities just as much as wild places. My top 3 must-see cities right now are Rome, Rio and Jersalem.

What’s your best tip for meeting locals when you travel?

Try to make at least one local contact before you go. If you belong to an organization, contact the local chapter. It's important to find common ground with locals. Get out of your hotel, and away from the cathedrals and monuments, and find an event like a concert, carnival, sporting event, or street fair. It should be somewhere people go to have fun; you can try to make conversation at the supermarket, but you'll do better at the beach.

Thanks Matthew! And happy travels!
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