Washington DC with Brand USA colleagues

Who knows travel better than those who have dedicated their lives to it? In this series, 7travel talks travel & tips with industry experts. Learn the best travel tips, what mistakes not to make, and what destinations should be on your to-visit list.

All too often, we allow work to get the best of us. We don’t embrace the chance to travel or travel with so many distractions that we can’t fully appreciate where we are. We spoke to Matt Fletcher, Director, Australia and New Zealand of Brand USA, pictured centre above, who has been able to marry his love of travel and successful career, to learn more about how to strike a balance between travel and work, and how to make the most of taking leave.

7travel: How long have you worked in the travel industry?

Fletcher: About 12 years. It was by chance, really. I got the travel bug when I finished university. I didn’t really know what I was going to do, so I decided to book a one-way trip and work out what I wanted to do. I came back just knowing that I loved travel and I wanted to spend the rest of my career in an industry that I was passionate about.

7travel: What’s the ideal time to spend on holiday?

Fletcher: That’s a tough one. We’re all constrained by jobs, but it’s great when you can get away for two to three weeks at a time. If I can do two weeks, that’s fantastic. And when I’m away, I get off the grid if I can. I turn off my phone, don’t watch the news, don’t think about work. That allows me to have a really immersive experience where I happen to be.

Sun Records in Memphis on a Brand USA trip

7travel: How do you handle your job when you’re away?

Fletcher: What I say to my team is that I’ll have my phone on me. If you need me, text me. Tell me how important the issue is and I’ll jump on and have a look. If not, I won’t get my work emails.

7travel: How do you spend your time on long flights?

Fletcher: What I used to do years ago was get all my work done on flights. I used to travel for work all the time - I was on a long haul flight every 6 weeks - so it was my time to read a report I hadn’t read or write a strategy that I hadn’t had the headspace to before. But now, with WiFi it’s so tempting to get stuck into email. I’m one of the people who’s in the “no WiFi on plane” camp.

7travel: In all of your travels, what have been some of your favourite holiday destinations?

Fletcher: I don’t think I could pick one thing out - impossible task! For me, every trip is about working out what I want to get from it. Every trip is an opp to learn something new or experience a culture you haven’t experienced before or even try a food you haven’t tried before. It’s a chance to live a bit of a life that we haven’t before, even if it’s for a long weekend. It’s all about how you approach it, getting out of your comfort zone.

7travel: What’s your preferred way to travel?

Fletcher: I love hiking. It’s my favourite way to get into a space and go slowly, really exploring an area in detail. The faster the mode of transport, the more you miss. With hiking, you get really good interactions with local people and get to really see and feel a destination. If you’re on a hike, the scenery changes hour to hour, day to day.

Hiking in Patagonia

7travel: Has social media taken over how we behave towards people, places things when we travel?

Fletcher: It helps from the travel industry point of view because we can communicate our messages in a much more engaging way that we couldn’t do previously. It allows us to have an authentic conversation. We can showcase a destination and ask people who have been there what they think about it and get their tips and tricks. It opens up the conversation. It’s no longer a one-way conversation from marketers.