Approximately ten years ago, Janó embarked on a backpacking tour in Asia for an indefinite period of time. The locations visited and the experience gained here later influenced the founding and main philosophy of Beyond the Standard (GoBeyond) travel agency. Exactly how did Beyond the Standard start and when did Fanni join the team?
János Benjámin Vértes: I always enjoyed freeride skiing and surfing, and these are things you have to travel somewhere from Hungary for. I started organizing trips ten years ago – after I spent one year backpacking in Asia – mostly for friends with similar interests and their friends. At first, the repertoire consisted of a ski trip in winter in France, a Moroccan surf camp in autumn and an Austrian outdoor camp in summer combining various sports. Four years ago, after I finished my number one job at the time, Fanni and I decided to start our own travel agency that we want to deal with as our main occupation. From then on, we traveled a lot, and each one of our organised tours was a destination we had tried and tested in detail.
Fanni Pataricza: Jano and I started working together on another project about eight years ago. We started dating six years ago, and it soon became clear that it only makes sense to do a job, that requires a lot of traveling, together. Plus, I have a degree in tourism, which came in handy when we started the travel agency.
Beyond the Standard’s trips are characterized by extreme sports activities in unconventional locations such as skiing in Japan, surfing in Sri Lanka, the Azores and the Philippines, off-road motorbiking in Mongolia or the Himalayas – and these are just a few examples of the special tours you offer. Why these sports and why these destinations?
J.B.V.: We want to discover as much of the world as possible, preferably the really exciting and less touristy destinations. With an almost infinite number of such places, these sports provide a very good filter for selecting the destination on the one hand, and also for the group coming together for these trips. The given sport is a common platform for all participants, and improving oneself in it and sharing the success make the experience lasting.
The whole project is very personal, we always organize new trips to places where we want to go ourselves, where we think it is worth visiting. Considering that we’ve been doing this full time for many years, the passengers are in good hands.
F.P.: While Janó is a seven-time Hungarian freeride champion and talented and motivated in almost every sport, my interest is much more humane. Janó represents credibility within the brand and I bring the people-centered mindset.
The community experience is a defining part of our trips, it is not uncommon for participants to come alone, and make such good friends with others that later they are joining the next camp as one group of friends. Many people believe by the way that only professional athletes can or will come to our tours, but that is not at all the case. In our surf camps, for example, half of the participants are typically complete beginners, and the program includes plenty of other activities in addition to surfing. We always visit the most exciting sights of the area and also pay great attention to get an authentic and complete picture of the local gastronomy.
What was your first trip together and what was your most defining travel experience?
F.P.: The first was a trip to Guadeloupe and Dominica on Janó’s 30th birthday. We haven’t been back there with a group since then by the way, even though Dominica – not to be confused with the Dominican Republic – is one of the most exciting places I’ve ever been.
Janó proposed to me in Iceland, so that was the most memorable for me, but we also had a very good expedition trip in Panama and a great honeymoon in Peru.
Janó, you mentioned that on your Asian tour ten years ago, you gained a lot of experience in problem solving. What was the most extreme situation you had to deal with in Beyond the Standard’s history?
J.B.V.: On the first Himalayan motor tour, the day after our departure, a civil war broke out in Kashmir, where we planned to end the tour. From that point on, we consulted every day with our local tour guide, the local authorities and the Hungarian consul about the developments, which gradually deteriorated. It’s a tense area under Indian rule, but Pakistan also wants to put their hands on it while proud locals fight for their independence. Several Indian soldiers were killed, curfew restrictions were imposed, and our only chance to get into the city would have been a jeep convoy starting every midnight, tossed with stones by protesters. Finally, on the day before the last, we managed to arrange the route change and get new tickets for everyone. We only notified the group of the program change once the solution was in place. The difficulty was mainly due to the ten days of uncertainty that had elapsed in the meantime.
The full article appeared on HYPEANDHYPER.