My Story: 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Gary Bembridge

My Story: 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Gary Bembridge

My story is simple, and complicated at the same time. This is what has driven me and what still drives me today.

Gary Bembridge Tips for Travellers

Me as a Boy in Bulawayo Zimbabwe in 1960s, wishing I could travel…

I was born in Zimbabwe, which is also home to one of the most stunning attractions I have ever seen

I was born in Bulawayo Zimbabwe (which was called Rhodesia at the time) to British Parents. I am a British Citizen which is important, as it meant I was able to move and live easily in the UK, and travel so much easier than if was not!

As a boy growing up, I was obsessed with history and I longed to live in London, which I saw as the centre of the World. I constantly nagged my parents to move back to the UK. It seemed so much more exciting than Africa, and I wanted to see the places I read about.

The only other country my parents took me to before turning 20 was South Africa. This made me even more determined to see as much as the world as I could once I started working and earned my own money.

Gary Bembridge Tips for Travellers

Me at my Military passing Out Parade in 1978

I did 18 months military service in Zimbabwe after school during the Civil War before One-Man One-Vote Independence. I was a weapons instructor, training soldiers to man the convoys that escorted civilians and goods traffic between the major towns – it was too dangerous to travel alone. I was a Browning machine gun, automatic rifle, and pistol expert.

I left Zimbabwe in 1980, after military service to go to university. Zimbabwe is home to one of the most stunning and amazing places and attractions I have ever seen. This is the Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe/ Zambia border. It remains my most favourite attraction in the world. You must see it.

Gary Bembridge Tips for Travellers

Me at Victoria Falls. The best attraction I have ever seen

I went to University in South Africa and had my first job there. It is also home of one of the most beautiful cities to visit in the world

I studied marketing and business at the University of Natal in South Africa, and then worked in Johannesburg for 4 years for Unilever. The craziest thing was that I never went to Cape Town during the 7 years I was in South Africa. I only went years after leaving.

This was just pure madness, as Cape Town is probably one of the more beautiful city destinations in the world, and is one of my favourite places.

It proved to me that you MUST explore the country around you before you think about going abroad, so you do not miss what is on your doorstep.

Me in Cape Town. One of the most beautiful cities in the world

London has been my home since 1987. It is my favourite city in the world, and home of the most luxurious and poshest hotel I have ever stayed in!

I adore London. Since I was a tiny boy I wanted to live here and have done so since the mid-1980s. Even in my job, when I was spending at least half the month in New York and then Paris, I kept London as my home base. London is exciting, historic, diverse, and generally fabulous.

Of the hundreds of hotels I have stayed in around the world, it is still home to the most luxurious hotel and rooms I have ever stayed in: The Berkeley in London. I stayed here on the night of my wedding in 2009 to Mark, where they upgraded us and put us in the stunning Chelsea suite. Nothing has beaten it yet.

Berkeley Hotel Chelsea Suite on my Civil Partnership 2009. A very special day and hotel

Choosing a global marketing career enabled me to travel for over 20 years all over world. And led me down an unexpected path.

I love marketing, and I chose a career that enabled me to take on regional and global jobs. Most of my career was at Johnson & Johnson, where I was the Global Vice President Johnson’s Baby Marketing, for most of my final years before retiring in 2012 from corporate life.

It took me all over the world and meant I could see cities all over the world. This is when I started making travel content, to share my tips and experiences of the places I visited.

I posted my first audio podcast in 2005 from my hotel room in Sydney about the city (https://tips4travellers.libsyn.com/podcast3-mp3 ), my first YouTube video on 24 June 2006 (a video tour of a guest house we were staying in Cape Town https://youtu.be/Wc4qTwI8rUg ).

My second video was a Cunard Queen Mary 2 Queens Grill cabin a month later (https://youtu.be/58IuFxpSbqU), starting my journey that would eventually turn a hobby into a career.

My Johnson & Johnson days

I stumbled across cruising by accident. But it changed everything.

I first boarded a ship, with some reluctance, in 2005. I was invited to talk at a marketing conference on board P&O Cruises Aurora. The ship had been charted by Richmond Events for the event. I had mixed feelings about going a ship, until we sailed out of Southampton, and I got my first taste of the thrill of being at sea and all that a ship had to offer.

I came back and immediately booked my partner Mark and I on a taster cruise, to sell the idea to him, and from there, my cruising journey, and obsession grew.

The videos I posted over the years about my cruise adventures became the ones that people were most interested in on YouTube. It got me thinking, maybe this little hobby could be so much more.

My first full cruise with Mark

Being diagnosed with cancer drove me to travel even more

Just after New Year in 2012 I discovered I had cancer and I spiralled downhill fast. Chemo was a great success and by the middle of the year, I was in remission and have been since. The first thing I did was book a cruise, on Queen Elizabeth to the Fjords.

I booked more cruises. And posted more cruising content. It grew into a big deal on YouTube.

Many people ask me why I travel and cruise so much. It’s simple. I don’t want to miss out seeing places. I was driven by travel as a boy, so much that I left the country I was born in. It influenced my career choices. Having tasted the fragility of time and uncertainty of how long I can and will be able to travel I want to pack it in fast and now. So, I am.

That is my story. Thank you for reading.

Gary Bembridge Tips for Travellers

Me on my first trip after chemo and hearing I was in remission




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Gary Bembridge

I grew up in Zimbabwe, but I have been based in London since 1987. My travel life spans more than three decades and that includes more than 95 cruises. In 2005, I launched Tips for Travellers to make it easy and fun for people to discover, plan and enjoy incredible cruise vacations. And the rest, as they say, is history. I have the largest cruise vlogger channel currently on YouTube, with more than 2 million video views per month.

8 Responses

  1. Ellen Balber says:

    Ah Gary, while we can, we should. I lost my 27 year old daughter to NH Lymphoma 28 years ago. I have cruised some and toured countries as well but now, at 79, only easy cruises work for me. My husband and I will be on the Sirena this Saturday for round trip on the European Embrace but we fly Virgin from Miami where hopefully Hurricane Ian will give us a break. You have been my go to guy and I hope we will some day have the pleasure of meeting you and Mark in person. I’m a Patron.

  2. Lynette DeNike says:

    What a wonderful history, Gary! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Tammi says:

    I really enjoyed your story. Very inspiring. I have never taken a trip I regretted. One thing I definitely learned from the pandemic is that if you don’t take a trip that you want to take, something might happen that will prevent you from ever taking it.

  4. Huib Visscher says:

    That is a great story. Did a practicum in SA. Went to Cape Town as well. Indeed one of the most beautiful places in the word. Also went on a trip to Zimbabwe (Bulawayo, Vic Falls, cruise over Lake Kariba, bus to Harare and then train back to Bulawayo). Very friendly people there. Now live in Vancouver, as long an amazing place when it is not raining

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