Dan Wrightson is CEO of Invitation to Tuscany, a luxury villa specialist founded by his parents in 1982. Dan grew up in Tuscany and studied art in Florence. From an early age he illustrated the company brochure with ink and watercolour sketches. He went on to study Architecture at Cambridge and Sheffield Universities, returning to Tuscany to work as an architect and landscape designer. He is also a mountaineer and long distance cyclist – after trips to Pakistan and Patagonia, his next project is to cycle off-road across the Alps, the equivalent of cycling up Everest seven times from sea level. In 2005 he took over the family business and moved to London where he now lives with his wife and son.
Cheapflights: What do you do when you travel – any routine procedures?
Dan Wrightson: Make sure I have at least two or three books to hand to while away the flight – I’m not a big film buff so the free movies don’t really do it for me.
CF:What is your travel pet peeve?
DW: The cheap-flight rush for seats – they don’t overbook the plane so just relax; running across the tarmac is so undignified.
CF: What is your favourite kind of trip?
DW:An impromptu trip. I once heard a lecture on the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, then jumped on a plane to go and see it for myself. It was unplanned, I had all the wrong clothes – I somehow imagined Turkey was always warm – and got involved in some strange New Year’s Eve party, but Hagia Sophia was as wonderful as the lecturer had painted it!
CF: What’s the best destination you have ever been to and why?
DW: Bolivia – landing at La Paz at 4,000 metres and seeing the oxygen bottles set you up for what to expect. We then went to a party at the “Club de Los Alemanos” (The Germans Club) where the German grannies who were acclimatised to the altitude danced everybody else into the ground.
CF: Where in the world offers the best value for money?
DW: Albania – undiscovered, wonderful and still wild.
CF: Where would you pay to stay? Is there anywhere you think offers great value and a great deal?
DW: I still haven’t been to Slovenia, but by all accounts it has a lot going for it – great mountains, beautiful architecture, history and good food. It’s next on my list.
CF: What is the best airport you have flown from and is there a tip to make this airport experience great?
DW: I like small airports. I enjoyed flying in Guernsey from a small airfield in Northern France. It felt like being on a secret mission: a tiny plane, an early morning departure with mist rolling in from the Atlantic.
CF: When you fly is there a tip you can share to make the experience a great one?
DW: It sounds strange, but my tip is to stick your luggage in the hold and travel with very light hand luggage – it makes the whole experience so much more pleasant.
CF: As a travel specialist, what is the most important piece of travel advice you can give?
DW: Know where you are going and be open to the experience. If you’re travelling to an out-of-the-way place, don’t expect air conditioning and concierge service – you’ll enjoy it all the more.
CF: At one point in your life, you will have to sit in the middle seat when you fly. If you have two people next to you, who do you most want to share a long haul with and whom would you least? And why.
DW: As for favoured seating companions, assuming I can’t choose to sit between my wife and my son, then I’d choose world class economists Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman or anybody else with an insight and an opinion into the recent financial meltdown. I have a lot of questions I’d like an answer to! As for the worst people to be seated between, it would have to be two people who wished I weren’t there, perhaps two lovers who talked over me as I sat between them.
CF: If there was one travel nightmare trip, where would it be to and what would it involve?
DW: I hate delays, so anything that involves long waits and long changeovers.