Jot Lynas Schoolies 2015 Travel Interview
Question: What are the most popular travel destinations for 2015 Schoolies?
Jot Lynas: The most popular travel destination for 2015 Schoolies is Fiji with Europe and Vanuatu growing rapidly. Unleashed Travel has seen a 98% increase in bookings for our Europe trips and a 56% increase in our adventure trips (Vanuatu) since last year.
Question: What is Unleashed Travel?
Jot Lynas: Unleashed Travel is the market leader in international travel packages for Australian school leavers, being the largest Schoolies tour operator out of Australia. We specialise in safely providing thousands of 17 and 18-year-old students with the ultimate Grad Trip experience through our supervised programs in Fiji, Vanuatu, Cambodia and Europe. We believe and recognise that there is no one breed of Schoolie and our trips are carefully created to ensure there's an experience suited to everyone.
Question: How does Unleashed Travel differ from typical Schoolies celebrations?
Jot Lynas: Schoolies is a rite of passage for Australian school leavers so we want them to have the trip of a lifetime and escape normal. We have spent years researching exotic locations such as Fiji, Vanuatu, Europe and Cambodia to ensure we have the right balance and perfect mix of sun, fun and safety. In fact, we only recently started offering our trips to Europe because we spent so much time planning to make it an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime trip. Soon after leaving school, these young Aussies go off to university and start their working lives so we want to make sure they have the chance to have an awesome trip with their friends.
Question: What advice do you have for parents considering Unleashed Travel?
Jot Lynas: Every year we unite students as they develop their independence, celebrate their academic achievements and have fun with their classmates. The focus at Unleashed Travel is on creating trips that balance culture experiences and quality time with friends. Furthermore, our trips are designed to give the traveller a sense of independence with safety front of mind. All of our destinations are staffed by Unleashed Crew who are experienced travellers that understand the balance between safe supervision and fun. They are on call 24/7 and take the role of the older brother or sister wanting their siblings to be safe and have fun with their friends. Unleashed Travel also goes to great lengths to ensure all travellers are safe from both themselves and others. With exclusive use of our resorts in Fiji and Vanuatu, all other unwanted guests are not able to set foot on the resort grounds during these times.
Question: Can you tell us about the Schoolies Europe trip?
Jot Lynas: Our Europe trip lets Schoolies visit 10 countries: France, Switzerland, Italy, Rome, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and England during winter in what is a completely unique experience. The highlights are the same but the tourist crowds are much smaller at that time of year. The school leavers that book this trip are always excited at the chance of seeing all the beautiful capital cities covered in snow.
Question: Why do you think Unleased Travel has seen a 56% increase in adventure-themed Schoolies trips?
Jot Lynas: We've seen a big shift in the changing interests of school leavers over the past few years. We're seeing them look beyond drinks and a hotel room, to new experiences in amazing locations. We transform a coral-fringed island in Vanuatu into an adventure getaway with a range of different activities to keep school leavers entertained.
Question: Why locations should Schoolies be avoiding?
Jot Lynas: Bali used to be a big Schoolies destination but it is no longer as popular for school leaver travel. We also stopped offering our Bali packages due to safety concerns as it was becoming increasingly difficult to manage risks there. There are so many opportunities for Schoolies to get caught up in illegal drugs, unsafe motorcycle riding (which they actually need an international drivers licence for in Bali), fights, physical abuse and methanol-laced drinks. There's also holes in the pavement and unsafe electrical cables exposed around Bali so it's not a safe place for Schoolies.
Question: What types of activities do Unleased Travel Schoolies participate in?
Jot Lynas: Our island destinations have activities like local volunteering, trekking, beach yoga, snorkelling, bush walking, scuba diving, shark feeding, parasailing, jet skiing, kayaking and more. I think one of the most interesting things we do is our karaoke battles – they're a lot of fun.
Question: Can you share your top 6 tips for students dealing with peer pressure?
Jot Lynas: 1. If your friends are pressuring you to have another drink, tell them you will have one soon rather than opting to have one immediately. Likewise, if they come back with a drink for you, just hang on to it for a while and take your time drinking it. The effects of alcohol can creep up on you quickly so if you begin to feel a bit tipsy, it's best to ease up for a little while.
2. Stick with your best friend because they usually have the same or similar values at heart. You might be in a big group of people but if there's someone with you that wants to sit something out, it makes it a little easier.
3. Have a full itinerary of activities and adventures planned. If you're going snorkelling for the day, you don't need to worry about negative repercussions when you say no, and because you have a better excuse than 'you just don't feel like it".
4. Think about the consequences of what you're being pressured to do
5. Keep away from Toolies. I think it's quite dangerous for Schoolies to be alone with a group of Toolies they don't know – risks can include drink spiking and physical or sexual abuse. Unleashed Travel works hard to avoid this by having exclusive use of island resorts just for Schoolies to keep out undesirables.
6. Avoid situations that lead to peer pressure. Your good friends won't pressure you into doing anything you don't want to do so if you stick with them, you'll be fine.
Question: What are the seven key factors that teens and their parents must look for to maximise peace of mind when planning Schoolies?
Jot Lynas: 1. Look for parent-student information nights offered by Schoolies travel providers and attend them together.
2. Read through travel insurance PDS very thoroughly to understand exactly what you're covered for.
3. Ask about police and extra security. Unleashed Travel ensures extra security and tourist police populate each resort to make a safe sanctuary for Schoolies to enjoy themselves without danger.
4. Stay connected. Look for locations offer free Wi-Fi so there's no reason Schoolies can't stay connected while they're in another country. We see a lot of school leavers keeping in touch with their parents through things like Facebook Messager, as well as a call every so often.
5. Look for destinations that are exclusively booked for Schoolies during the travel dates.
6. Ask about Duty Free alcohol restrictions if you're considering overseas trips. Unleashed Travel enforces this and works closely with local authorities. 7. Enquire about medical facilities available to Schoolies at the destination.
Interview by Brooke Hunter