An Interview with Lindsay Young of Urban Adventures

If you're looking for a destination's hidden gems, a tour with a local through Urban Adventures is a great way to go! We recently caught up with Lindsay Young, an avid traveler and member of the Urban Adventures team. Check out her fun interview.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I'm a Toronto girl through and through, and although I've spent six years living in Vancouver and a year living in Guildford (England), Toronto will always be my love. I started travelling when I was an itty bitty two-year-old visiting my Dad's family in England, and since then, I've been to about 35 countries on four continents.

My love of travel and maps started really early (my first nightlight was a globe), so it's unsurprising that I've chosen to make tourism my career. I rather love learning, and have a BA in Geography from the University of British Columbia and a MSc in Tourism Management from the University of Surrey. I speak French (like most good Canadians do), and I'm taking Spanish lessons as well (and not just learning the swear words...I promise).

My friends joke that I should work for the Icelandic tourism board because about ten people have visited because I just don't stop talking about it (I'm kind of obsessed). It's my favourite place, along with Hong Kong, Croatia, England, and Canada. My dream destinations are New Zealand, Japan, and Argentina. I'm easily distracted by dogs, vintage maps, and Friends (not necessarily together), and the best way to bribe me is with a glass of Argentinian malbec and a cheese platter. I have fantastically terrible taste in music, can rarely sit through a whole movie without getting bored, and read Pride and Prejudice at least twice a year. When I'm not travelling, I'm continuing my love affair with Toronto by exploring the city's multicultural restaurants, cheering for my beloved Maple Leafs, and going for runs along the lakeshore.

What inspired you to join the team at Urban Adventures?

After graduating from my Master's program, I was looking for a position in responsible/sustainble tourism. I'd long admired Intrepid (one of Urban Adventures' parent companies), and knew I wanted to work for a company like that. One of my friends from my Master's had just completed an internship with WHL Group (the other of UA's parent companies), and they were looking for someone new. I jumped at the chance, and after three months, a position became available at Urban Adventures. I was really excited, because UA embodies everything I was looking for – sustainable, responsible, local, innovative, unique, and loads of fun.

After about eight months working in business development and partner relations, the Digital Marketing Specialist role became available, and I've been doing that for over a year now. I work out of the PEAK / Intrepid Canada office in Toronto, and absolutely love it. My co-workers are a blast, and we have way more fun that most people do at work (and we have dogs!!). I feel really fortunate to work with such a creative, supportive, hilarious team who have become very good friends - just a few weekends ago we went tobogganing together. I'm still recovering.

You've no doubt gone on a number of Urban Adventures tours. Which one has been your favorite so far?

Well, I'm biased. I've done all three in Toronto and love them all, but the Beer Makes History Better tour really is a classic. I've also loved Hong Kong's Around Kowloon in 8 Markets, London's East End Uncovered, and Philadelphia's 9th Street Italian Market.

What is your favorite Urban Adventures tour story that someone has shared with you?

Nothing in particular stands out – we haven't had any marriage proposals or anything like that! What I do love though, and what I hear often, is when travellers say that on their tour they discovered places they never knew existed, weren't listed in their guidebooks, and that they never would've found otherwise. This is especially the case on food tours, and many times our travellers will return to places later in their visit that they were introduced to on their tour. I love it when our passengers tell us that, because that's exactly what we're supposed to be doing.

Who's one of the coolest/unique local Urban Adventures guides?

They're all a bunch of characters! I think you have to be a character in order to be a great Urban Adventures guide. Andy in Philadelphia has a really cool background, and is one of the nicest guys I've met. Jason in Toronto (bias!) is a lot of fun, and has developed some of the most creative tours we have. Danny in Hong Kong is hilarious, and taught me a very important Cantonese lesson over lunch in Kowloon. Just this week in Berlin Nadin took us on a preview of a brand new tour in the neighbourhood she grew up in, and the passion and love she has for that area is infectious.

Where are you planning to travel this year? Any tour you've had your eye on?

Everywhere! I just got back from Berlin and am in New York for a few days, attending our annual regional partner conferences and ITB in Berlin. In April I head to my parents' place in Florida for a week, May I'm off to Montreal for my boyfriend's birthday weekend, and in June I'm doing a two-week trip with my mum – Copenhagen, Tallinn, St Petersburg, Helsinki, and Stockholm. August will take me to Maine for a friend's wedding. In October/November, my boyfriend and I are planning on going to Chile, Argentina, and Brazil (not Rio, though, that's for World Cup 2014!). In terms of tours, I did Hidden Berlin and a preview of our new Kreuzberg tour in Berlin and loved them. I hope I can do the Harlem Experience tour in NYC, but I might not have enough time. I'm also really looking forward to St. Petersburg Unveiled in June. Ooh, and Toronto is launching a food tour very soon, and I can't wait to test it next week when I'm back in town!

Interview by Anis Salvesen.