For most people, the dream of spending your days surfing, partying and generally hanging out with like-minded people is the stuff dreams are made of.
But for Stuey Jones and Toby Paramor, that dream has very much become their reality. From humble beginnings hanging out on ‘mouldy, unventilated dungeon-floors drinking cheap cask wine’ the guys conceived of a better way to spend their summers.
We had a chat with Stuey and Toby - the founders of Stoke Travel - to find out exactly how the pair turned their love of surfing (and partying) into the thriving travel business it is today - and some of the stuff that happened along the way…
So, what were you guys doing before Stoke Travel?
Pretty much the exact same thing. Stoke Travel started by us wanting to extend and share our lifestyle - partying in San Sebastian and surfing up the coast in France, so our day-to-day before we started the business and after were very similar, just that we had more friends along on our surf trips afterwards.
What gave you the push to start up the company?
There was a serious lack of travel companies appealing to a more travel savvy audience who still saw the benefit in sometimes doing the group travel thing. What we saw was a lot of young travellers being treated like school children and herded on and off buses, or surf and festival travel companies that appealed to people from one country.
We wanted to create an alternative so you could still be an independent traveller, while surrounding yourself with 100s of new friends from all over the world.
How did you manage to get it off the ground?
Saved some money, bought a van and made some flyers. Then we went out every night and chatted to people and convinced them to come surfing with us the next morning. From there we boomed almost exclusively off the back of word of mouth.
Within two years we'd grown from surf camps into taking people to Europe's best festivals, and within a few years of that we went from starting out to easily being Europe's biggest festival travel company.
What was your vision for the company when you started out, and have you stayed true to it?
We just wanted to treat travellers like adults, be honest with them, and show them an affordable good time, and we have stuck to that. That ethos has remained the same from when we had two people in a van with us surfing up the coast, to now when we have 2000 partying with us on our biggest nights at Oktoberfest.
Do you have any particular highlights/best stories - that we can publish…?
Somehow booking Australian electronic music act, Art Vs Science, for our early summer events in 2018 was a highlight and it definitely changed the direction of the company.
Before that we would have DJs and sometimes bands, but this was the first time we had an international act who had played huge festivals, and we realised that if we want to continue showing travellers the best possible experiences we have to continue stepping it up like this.
In 2019 we've got Dune Rats playing with us from the London Big Day Out in mid June, all the way to Stoked in the Park, Pamplona, at the start of July. And yeah, when you have bands along for the ride there are plenty of not-safe-for-publications stories that are spawned on the road. I guess you'll just have to come along to see what they're all about…
Why should students choose Stoke Travel?
We consistently attract the best travellers to our events, so whenever you stay with Stoke you can be sure to be surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands, of like-minded travellers and party animals from all over the world.
Our on-site bars are open and unlimited, meaning you can literally drink as much as you want, which is one of the biggest expenses on a student trip. Stoke goes above and beyond in providing more to the traveller for less, because at the end of the day we're only in this business to show people a good time, and we'll bend over backwards to make sure that happens.
Is there anything you would do differently if you could start out again?
Absolutely not, because while our journey hasn't been perfect, it has been ours, and we've been able to maintain the things that matter to us - taking travellers on trips that we want to do ourselves and making sure they have the time of their life in the process.
So, if this sounds like the kind of travelling you can get on board with, check out the Stoke Travel website and get involved!