Rod and Leanne have both done 30 years each in the army – fascinating isn’t it? It was to us! Rod is a SUP instructor. His son owns a SUP tour company, he has done 10-15 km offshore races on boards and taught SUP for years when he first booked a tour with our unsuspecting guide.
As luck would have it, a driver who picked up Leanne and Rod from the airport suggested Rod try a tour with us – and so Leanne had organized it for him. Croatia has exceptionally great weather, but the day Leanne booked a SUP tour for Rod the weather was against us, cloudy and not very SUP-friendly. Rod still chose to show up – little did we know at the time – what was a tour for Rod ended up being a tour by Rod.
Recognizing that a customer knew more about our tour than we did was a tough pill to swallow but what we chose to do instead of having a pity party, is to ask Rod to be our mentor and teacher. And for some still unknown reason to us, Rod accepted to give us his pointers and wisdom. We invited Leanne and Rod to our Peruca Lake tour as our guests – we’ve shared the gastro wonders of homemade prosciutto and cheese, broke the overeating with the swim in the clear waters of Croatian nature and finished with the traditional Peka. We shared a bond and love for the outdoors instantly!
We planned the week for Leanne & Rod so they can see the real and the best of Croatian nature while they helped us with making Given2Fly advance to the next level. When they left, we invited them to come back again the next year. And they did! This time for a full month. When we say we have friends, not clients and customers, we mean it. Leanne and Rod are one such friend, family even. They are no-nonsense, easygoing people who share the same values as Given2Fly – passion, determination, and dedication. Their military background just adds the discipline, order and complete control of the situation that they added to the Given2Fly development story. We have connected sometimes over wine and sometimes in complete silence.
Here’s what Rod & Leanne had to say about us!
How did you first get to Given2Fly?
Leanne and I travelled through Europe, went on the trip to Split and met Mariana through a driver that knew her. By the time I got to split, I’d been paddleboarding for probably six or seven years as a hobby and helping my son.
And do you travel with seems like you travel a lot? What do you do that allows you to have this kind of lifestyle?
As ex-soldiers from the military with over 30 years each in the army, we have army pensions, that allow us to have a pretty good life. We’ve got other things that have happened since then but basically, we both spent 30 years in the army. So we’re very process driven. This is one of the reasons why I think we both love and respect Mariana – because she is logical and organized and safe conscious and process driven. If we’re going to do something, what we try to do is check to make sure that the people we’re going to do things with, whether it be bike riding or kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding, know what they’re doing. That’s
why I was more than happy to help Given2Fly because they wanted to be better with biking and stand-up paddleboarding in particular.
Why did you decide to help Given2Fly to advance to the next level?
I think the main thing with it all was that she wanted to be better at not just paddling, but also to be better at business. And she wasn’t accepting what she had, she was saying to us “how do I make us better?”
We’ve traveled a lot through Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, etc, etc. And so we know, not everyone wants to accept criticism. She’s such a go-getter – plus – we gotta live like locals. Because of Mariana, you know, and the stuff we did together. The only thing we didn’t learn how to do is speak the language. It’s a little bit tricky. Next year, we are going to come and come back and then do some more paddling and have a great time, and try to learn the language maybe.
Do you look for these types of adventure tours? Or do you just like to go with the flow and see if you find one, or do you specifically look for them before?
We do all the research before. We love doing food and wine tours too! But we can’t go a day or two without some sort of physical exercise – especially for Rod because he’s a bit of a, you know, physical exercise junkie, unfortunately. But adventure tours we will do only if it’s safe and well-informed. That’s why we stick with Given2Fly – she cares so much about people’s experiences. And if anything happens, she’ll go the extra mile and a half to make it all better. And it’s just hard to get like that. And I think that’s why we fell in love with her even more because she is so passionate, so caring and she was more than happy to sit down and say “Well, how do you think we should do this?”
The paddleboarding was a good example because not a lot of people were doing paddleboarding, certainly not in Split. But once she got it going, we saw an influx of these tours. And she was just a sponge. She was just listening to what we were saying!
How would you compare Split to other cities when it comes to these types of adventure tours? Do you see an improvement? Do you see that things could be done better?
We haven’t been here for two years because of COVID obviously, and maybe things have changed a fair bit. I don’t know, perhaps but a lot of concern or concern if you’d like I had about it was that a lot of people that were doing these tours were university students that were doing that sort of work in between studying. I get what you have to do to do that. And because you need the staff, etc. But, in Australia, for example, the amount of things you’ve got to go through to get people on the board is just unbelievable. And you have to have people that are well trained. And I think in Split they’re certainly getting there but I understand there is frustration with trying to get the right people on. And that’s what we liked about it was the fact that she wasn’t willing to accept compromise.
The thing that I was quite surprised at without being nasty or horrible was the lack of structured and I guess real regulations. But at Given2Fly she wouldn’t accept mediocrity or lack of safety rules. I don’t think there was anyone else in Split doing anything like that. Maybe now there is!
What would you say to someone who has never done these types of tours and then wants to try something like this, whether it be kayaking, paddling or even rock climbing, maybe more kayaking and paddling since you know more about that? And someone who’s going to a different country?
I would say give it a go. I’d say go outside your comfort zone. You know, the Adriatic is an amazing place and you’re gonna see stuff that you don’t get to see anywhere else. And you know you only it’s a once-in-a-while opportunity to go outside your comfort zone and have an amazing experience with wonderful people!