Founder and chairman of Steppes Travel, Nick Laing set up the company in 1989, following an exploratory trip to the remote Altai region of Russia. Since then Nick has avidly travelled the globe, always seeking out places off the normal tourist trail. He has undertaken some epic overland journeys including his first ever adventure driving from London to Singapore, an 8,000 mile motorbike expedition between London and Vladivistok as well as circumnavigating the Mediterranean in 2009.
Join Nick and his wife Princess Katya Galitzine on one of the most iconic train journeys across eight-time zones aboard the magnificent Golden Eagle train. Fittingly this epic journey takes Steppes Travel back to its roots, on the year of the companies 30th anniversary.
Read on to learn which country surprised Nick and where is next on his bucket list…
How often do you travel?
I am probably on an aeroplane every month but not always to some exotic destination.
What country surprised you?
The USA in an area known as the Four Corners where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah all meet. I rode a motorbike through canyons and deserts. A 180° horizon of outstanding beauty.
What was your earliest childhood ambition?
Not to be tied to an office.
Who has inspired you to do what you do?
Aged 22, I drove a car from London to Singapore with little preparation, no mobile phone and no parental guidance. I never looked back.
What is your most amusing travel story?
1975, crossing the border from Iran into Pakistan. The immigration official is housed in a tent on the side of the road. He spends two or three minutes carefully studying my passport – upside down. He finds a blank page. Takes a deep breath and very carefully licks the page before applying his stamp. He had run out of ink.
What motivates you to do what you do?
The people I work with.
In what place are you happiest?
Heathrow Terminal 5.
Do you consider your carbon footprint?
Yes, but I am not an Eco Warrior. I try to shun single use plastic but fly on planes. My next car will be electric.
What is the one essential you travel with?
What is your best piece of travel advice?
Never judge a country or culture through western eyes.
Where is next on your travel ‘bucket list’?
Japan and then Uganda to see the mountain gorillas… and Colombia, and one day back to Syria.