Glenyce Johnson had a successful 15 year career in the travel industry, including as managing director of Peregrine Adventures.
Then she had an epiphany while hiking in Spain in 2006 - “more walking, less working” - which lead her to create her dream life, best fit business, Wandering the World. Glenyce now leads walks in amazing destinations around the world.
Glenyce has invited me to participate in a walk on the Camino de Santiago in 2020 as a career change expert. Of course, I said “Yes!” So I thought it would be interesting to hear Glenyce’s career change story.
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What inspired you to start a walking tour company?
"I took my 6 months’ long service leave six years ago and decided to spend that time living in Spain. My partner suggested we walk the Camino, so in 2013 we set out on the 800km Camino Frances from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela, then onto Finisterre. When I got to the half way mark I remember thinking, more walking, less working and to share the travel I love. Also, Spain was still suffering from the financial crisis at that time and I was determined to make a small contribution to promote the Camino and encourage people to travel to Spain."
What were you doing before you took leave?
"I was managing director of Peregrine Adventures. I’d spent the previous 15 years in the travel industry, which nicely complemented my extensive previous eight years of living and travelling in Europe, Africa and South America."
Did you test your idea for a walking company or dive straight in?
"I guess walking the Camino was the test. I then just dived into offering escorted two week trips on various paths of the Camino, so we could share our knowledge and experience and enjoy the company of others. It was also a way to offer people, who preferred to travel with a group, the opportunity to experience the Camino. This was the instigator to launch Wandering the World. Six years later we continue to introduce a variety of walks such as the West Highland Way (Scotland), Coast to Coast (England), Kumano Kodo (Japan), Douro Valley (Portugal), to name a few. Our longest walk with a group was this year, 1,000km from Gran San Bernardo to Rome on the Via Francigena (Italy)."
How do people find walking in conjunction with another purpose, e.g. career change or leadership development?
"We are very proud and excited about our Caminos that introduce career coaching, mentoring, inner & outer journeys and leadership programs, which bring another dimension to the walking and allows a greater focus. I’ve escorted 6 of these style of trips and have witnessed a growth in people in just 7 days I’ve also seen them back in their environment months later and noticed the difference in their confidence."
Do people find the personal transformation easier, more fun or more transformative being out of their regular environment?
"Walking and enjoying nature and the environment is arguably the best classroom in the world. I really gives you a sense of freedom, purpose and achievement."
You were named a Telstra Business Woman of the year for Victoria. What was that for?
"In 2006, during my time as Managing Director of Peregrine Adventures, I won the Telstra Business Woman of the year for Victoria in the Corporate and Private Sector, and was a finalist for Australian Business Woman of the Year.
The award is an individual achievement, I just happened to be at Peregrine at the time."
What are people's top fears about walking for 6 days, and what would you tell them to alleviate their fear?
"People usually doubt their physical ability to walk 20or more kms in a day, and the toughest part is backing it up each day. They fear the physical and worry about the amount of training they’ve done, and they don’t necessarily put in the time they wish to be as well prepared. So people are usually a little under prepared due to everyday commitments in there busy lives. They also worry about having the appropriate gear and what their options are if, for some reason, they cannot continue on a given day and need to stop before reaching the destination.
My advice is to break down the walking distances so it is manageable, and that is part of my role (if we think about 4 lots of 5km walks then it sounds much more achievable than 20km). We take our time: a stop to smell the roses and a 20 minute coffee break can do wonders. I also have a few tricks that work for me, such as taking my shoes off to let my feet breath and changing socks so that keeps the moisture away from my feet to avoid blisters.
It is essential to have a pair of hiking boots that work for your feet (my feet are wide so I need a wide boot), and also plenty of room on the front of the shoe. A size larger works best, and ensure you try on the boots with walking socks (getting the right socks is also highly advisable). Walking poles offer great advantages, so whilst the Sarria to Santiago section, for example, is easy terrain that doesn’t have any scary edges or steep drops, the poles are terrific to take some of the weight off your knees and feet and are brilliant for posture.
If someone does need to stop and cannot continue for any reason, then we can arrange a taxi from a nearby café.
This particular Career Coaching Camino is designed to push people a little out of their comfort zone both physically and mentally, and for people to reap the benefits of rising to that challenge and feel proud of their achievements. It’s so rewarding!"
If you're ready for an amazing adventure, join me on the Camino in Spain in 2020. More details are available here.
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