To continue our Expert Advisor Spotlight series, featuring expert travel advisors – and some of our best friends – who declare their travel independence with every trip they embark on, meet Jim Bendt!
Jim is the CEO of Pique Travel Design, based out of Minneapolis, and a member of our Travel Advisor Leadership Council. We so admire his genuine passion to explore all that the world has to offer, and his ability to create incredible, story-telling travel videos. Learn more about Jim and a few of the places he’s ventured to by reading his answers to our 10 question spotlight below!
1| Why you do what you do | Travel is my second career. And having this context is the reason why I appreciate and love what I do. What other job gives you the rich rewards of helping your clients follow their curiosity and literally designing memories that will last a lifetime? I’m so happy I found travel as a career path. The subject matter certainly never gets old.
2| Your travel style in 3 words | Follow your curiosity!
3| Most cherished passport stamp | There are many places in the world that I cherish but it’s the places that are difficult to return to due to some political unrest that hold the most meaning. I feel fortunate that I was able to see the splendors of Egypt before their struggles. It’s a part of the world, along with Istanbul, that every traveler really needs to experience.
4| Carry on item you can’t live without | Bose noise cancelling headphones help drown out the ambient sounds (aka crying baby) and actually make air travel a relaxing break from my daily routine.
5| Beloved off the beaten path destination | Belize. Where else in the world can you fly 2-3 hours from the U.S. and feel like you’re in a completely different world. One minute you’ll put on your best Belizana Jones alter ego while exploring ancient Maya temples far away from the hoards of tourists. The next you’ll feel like Jacques Cousteau snorkeling along the second largest barrier reef in the world. With over 40% of the land protected, this Central American country has lots of places to explore off the beaten path.
6| Favorite independent property and why | I recently returned from an amazing trip to Turks & Caicos where I stayed with Grace Bay Club and West Bay Club. Whether you’re looking for a luxury hotel room, condo or private villa they have an option to match anyone’s unique tastes. Best of all, each accommodation comes with electric blue waters and white sand beaches as a mesmerizing backdrop.
But it doesn’t end with just beautiful rooms. If you’re looking for a touch of creativity in the Caribbean, there is no one better than Grace Bay Resorts. Get shipwrecked on one of the 40 islands in Turks & Caicos while enjoying a beach BBQ, explore the 3rd largest barrier reef in the world and, if you’re lucky, swim with a curious dolphin in the wild. It’s clear the staff at Grace Bay take pride in creating experiences all your own.
7| Best moment you’ve captured with a photograph | Actually, I prefer to shoot videos when I travel. My favorite moment was this video of my daughter and son on an African Safari.
8| Top book you’ve read while traveling | To help dial up my anticipation I like to read topics relevant to the destination I’ll be exploring. Nelson Mandela’s A Long Walk To Freedom is particularly memorable.
9| A museum you could visit time and again | My most memorable museum doesn’t have four walls and a roof. And all of its artifacts have been in the same place since 79 AD.
The museum I could visit time and again is Pompeii, Italy, which was preserved in ash during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Instead of collections brought inside a building, Pompeii allows you to see the art, customs, trades and everyday life of Roman civilization as if it was literally frozen in time. You walk away with a sense of awe given the Roman’s technical and artistic achievements, while at the same time it’s a stark reminder to focus on what matters most in our lives.
10| Most unusually delicious dish you’ve tried while traveling | In my travels, I’ve been fortunate to try all kinds of interesting delicacies. Some great, like fresh conch plucked from the ocean and made into ceviche on the boat. And some not so great, like Kæstur hákarl – a national dish of Iceland consisting of a fermented shark hung to dry for five months. It’s a pungent dish that’s hard to forget.