Ali created Activities Abroad a long, long time ago after returning to the UK after a year-long bike ride across Europe. Aged 30-something, he was sitting in his parents’ house with no job, no money and absolutely no prospects and thinking,
“What am I going to do for the rest of my life?”
So, he sat down with a piece of paper and a pencil and made a list of all the things he enjoyed doing most. Top of that list were two things:
2 Activity and Adventure Sports
Armed with this vague vision of his future it occurred to him that the best way to achieve a combination of these two things was to create a travel company specialising in activity holidays. That’s all well and good but he had absolutely no idea where to start so, aged 32, he went back to university and emerged four years later with a degree in Travel and Tourism Management (a 1st Class Honours degree as he is constantly reminding us!).
Next up, he needed some experience so he worked for two tour operating companies before one day walking into his boss’s office and telling him where to stick his job (honestly, this really happened). Not surprisingly, Ali awoke the next day to find himself unemployed and lying next to an extremely unhappy wife!
It wasn’t the greatest of times but realising that he was essentially unemployable was the spur to taking control of his own life and setting up Activities Abroad. Ali is in his 50s now with two kids and the same long-suffering wife Kate and seems to spend most of his days engaged in increasingly absurd cycling challenges. Nevertheless, the business is still chugging along very nicely and the family seem to spend an increasingly large amount of time visiting and checking out the destinations featured by Activities Abroad.
After all, that’s why Ali set up the business isn’t it?
Before the kids came along, Ali’s favourite winter destination was either Nellim in Finland or Absiko in Sweden but priorities change when travelling as a family or for the last four years, the McLean clan have headed to Luosto in Finnish Lapland because it is so family friendly.
“We love Luosto because there is just so much to do. The kids have learned to cross-country ski and downhill ski there, there is any number of winter activities ranging from dog sledding to ice fishing and the Tunturi Hotel has a swimming pool which keeps us all happy after a day in the winter chill. It’s the perfect winter destination for an active family.”
Favourite Summer Destination: Slovenia
If there is any river more beautiful than the Soca then Ali would dearly like to know about it.
“I love the Soca Valley and have been there on more than 20 occasions. Whether it’s rafting on the river, canyoning in the mountains or cycling along the valley, every corner reveals a new and spectacular view. I’d recommend it to absolutely anybody with active kids because they will have the greatest holiday.”