Based in Oxenhope
It's Nice To Meet You
I'm Ian Heaven, a Travel Counsellor based in the village of Oxenhope, West Yorkshire, where I live with my partner and our two dogs. With a genuine passion for travel and a curiosity about the incredible world we live in, I offer a friendly, personal, and flexible travel service to take the hassle out of planning your dream holiday.
Having raised four children, I understand the importance of creating lasting memories. Over the years, I've had the privilege of exploring fascinating destinations, including South Africa, Bali, Thailand, The Gambia, Morocco, Egypt. I’ve also travelled to most of Europe including slightly more unusual destinations such as Latvia, Hungary, and Slovakia. These journeys have given me first hand experience of diverse cultures and landscapes.
My goal as a Travel Counsellor is to provide a tailored travel experience that suits your individual needs. I enjoy and take pride in creating bespoke trips to any destination across the globe. Whether you're seeking a relaxing beach getaway, a city break, an adventurous safari, a luxury cruise or an off-the-beaten-track exploration, I pay meticulous attention to detail to ensure a stress-free and enjoyable journey.
As your Travel Counsellor, I go beyond arranging travel arrangements. I strive to create unforgettable experiences and take care of every aspect of your trip. My aim is to help you live your holiday dreams and make memories for life.
In addition you can relax in the knowledge that every booking through Travel Counsellors is fully protected by either our own unique Financial Trust or ATOL. It really is the best financial protection in the industry giving you complete peace of mind that your money is 100% safe.
With me as your travel consultant, you can expect a friendly, personal, and caring approach to travel. I take time to really understand your needs and will ensure that every detail is taken care of, so you can relax and enjoy your journey to the fullest. Whether you're looking for relaxation, adventure, or cultural immersion, I'll use my expertise and dedication to make your travel experience truly remarkable. Let's embark on this journey together and create memories that will last a lifetime.
To get things started contact me by phone, text or email for an initial discussion whether you are at the stage of knowing exactly where you want to go or simply want to have a chat to start formulating your ideas. As I work from home I can discuss your needs at a time that suits you.
I look forward to hearing from you!
I absolutely live and breathe travel and I love to write about my experiences! Please take a look through my posts - you might find your own holiday inspiration.
14 July 2023
I have no doubts that travel is a force for good. Imagine how closed people’s minds would be to the different beliefs, cultures, appearances and food from all over this planet of ours if we never had the opportunity to experience them for ourselves. Travel is also, potentially, one of the most effective methods of redistributing wealth we have. However, as a Travel Counsellor with an environmental degree and a long-standing concern for the future of our planet it is important for me to be able to help my clients travel as sustainably as they possibly can. Luckily I have joined a company which in its own words ‘is on a journey to champion responsible travel’. We aim to achieve this through education of colleagues (i.e. me!) and customers (i.e. you!) alongside more considerate selection of the experiences we provide, therefore having a positive impact on the planet and the places and people we visit. Fortunately, whilst Travel Counsellors are in the vanguard when it comes to promoting sustainability, we are far from the only ones in the travel industry thinking about these challenges as demonstrated by numerous recent articles in the travel media. This then was the backdrop to myself and a cohort of fellow Travel Counsellors, spending a day last week in Manchester hearing from representatives of luxury hotel brands, adventure tour operators and major airlines about the sustainability actions they are taking on the ground (or air). Overall, it was really encouraging to see how seriously companies are taking sustainability and the extent to which they are investing time and resources to not just minimise negative impacts from their operations but to actually ensure these have a positive impact in the areas and communities where they are located. Waste management measures featured highly. Common to many were measures to completely remove single-use plastic from their establishments, with simple actions such as no longer using plastic straws to the more ambitious and costly practice of installing water fountains throughout hotels with guests given refillable glass water bottles. Aspirations to reduce, or even completely eliminate, waste were also shared with one group of hotels installing very impressive leading edge, AI driven, technology to measure just how much, and what type of, food waste it’s kitchens are generating. Not surprisingly protecting the natural environment also featured highly as many destinations are heavily dependent on the beauty of the landscape and well-being of nature to attract visitors to choose to spend their hard-earned cash with them. It was encouraging to hear from companies tackling issues such as protecting and improving the marine ecosystems including being prepared to take threatened species of their menus if they can no longer be sourced sustainably. One company has even pledged to rewild 100 square metres of land for every customer travelling with them. Reducing travellers carbon footprint resulting from their journey or stay is of course a major issue in the fight against climate change. An increasing number of adventure tours are featuring trains instead of planes, whilst a major airline explained how bio-fuels from waste products were being mixed with conventional airline fuel and how they were encouraging train use instead of internal flights to smaller cities not served by international airports. One small group tour operator has calculated the average carbon footprint per person for every one of its trips, a huge undertaking. As a result travellers know the impact they are having and how much they need to offset if they wish their trip to be carbon neutral. Talking of offsetting, Travel Counsellors work with Trees4Travel to do just this. They enable positive climate action for travellers by planting trees (that draw down and store C02). Trees4Travel will calculate the number of trees needed to offset your trip and plant these on your behalf at a cost of £3 per tree. As an example, a flight to Mexico with a week in a villa equates to 6 trees or £18 per traveller. If you like the sound of booking a holiday that allows you to do this then get in touch. Probably the positive impact that travel companies are having around the world on local communities and people’s lives that was most impressive. Many of those present partner with, or have set up their own, non-profit foundations through which they provide support for a whole range of community focussed projects. These aim to ensure local communities touched by tourism benefit from the opportunities it provides through activities that empower people by providing jobs and conserving their culture. Examples given included community run cookery schools, indigenous craft experiences such as weaving and training female guides to promote gender equality. So committed to the goal of changing lives through travel is one company they provide a ‘ripple score’ for each of their tours so that clients can see just how much of the money spent in a destination goes towards local services, therefore remaining in the local community. I left the event encouraged by what I had seen and heard from the travel industry about how it is approaching the sustainability challenge. Of course there is still a long way to go but I’m quietly optimistic of our chances to continue expanding our minds through travel without it, literally, costing the earth!
05 June 2023
Whilst I have enjoyed numerous holidays to many of the most popular destinations around the world some of my fondest memories are from trips to countries or regions that have been a bit more off the beaten track. In Morocco for example, whilst Marrakech and Essaouira were both amazing places to experience, the memories that stick most in my mind are when we hired a car and drove over the Atlas Mountains to explore the hinterland. In particular I remember driving along the Dades Gorge, the only car for miles, when rounding every corner seemed to present a view more stunning than the last. The scenery was stark and dramatic with flashes of greenery and isolated settlements. The hotel too in this area was memorable with its’ pink adobe walls designed in the style of a kasbah, simple rustic interiors and amazing French cuisine in the gorgeous gardens, all set in the middle of a palmeraie. The decision to take my family to Latvia also paid dividends. Riga, the capital, is of course a worthy weekend city-break destination and well worth a visit it is too. The highlight for me however, was the gently rolling surrounding countryside of forests, rivers and lakes provided a wonderfully peaceful backdrop for a few nights in a spacious log cabin, complete with our own lake, sauna and firepit. Close to Riga is the resort of Jurmala, hugely popular with locals and Russians at the time but far less well-known to UK holiday-goers. With its’ miles of golden sandy beaches, safe bathing, numerous kids activities and welcoming restaurants it was perfect for a family holiday. The Baltic sea was surprisingly welcoming too as was the weather with August temperatures in the mid-20s throughout our stay. Sticking with the eastern European theme a combined trip to Hungary and Slovakia was also hugely enjoyable. Lake Balaton, central Europe’s largest lake, provided beach resort vibes and facilities with the added benefit of numerous impressive castles and pretty countryside to explore. Slovakia, quieter and more rustic, provided something of a contrast with it’s beautiful mountains, lush meadows and attractive timber villages making it equally interesting to explore. The film Mamma Mia was the inspiration for a holiday to Greece’s little known Pelion peninsular, the location used for much of filming and a treasure trove of isolated hillside villages and quaint fishing harbours. So far as we could tell we were the only tourists in a remote mountain village yet we were only minutes from the coast and a number of beaches and tavernas. It also proved to be a convenient jumping off point for a ferry to the island of Skopelos, where the church in the film’s final scene was filmed. The Pelion peninsular is a great place to go to get away from it all and experience authentic Greece. None of the destinations mentioned are exactly Bear Grylls level exploration. They did however mean we were often the only British tourists around allowing us to genuinely experience and appreciate the landscape and culture of where we were. Sometimes, that is exactly what you want from travel and going off the beaten track really does hit the spot when it comes to creating travel memories. As a Travel Counsellor I have the flexibility and tools to put together itineraries that are a lot or just a little bit out of the ordinary. If you have such a trip in mind why not get in touch to see how I can help.