Michael: “I’ve actually managed to double my travel stats this year.”

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Michael: “I’ve actually managed to double my travel stats this year.”

Meet Michael Hayward, who has been a part of the App in the Air community since 2018. Read on to learn more about how Michael lives and breathes all-things-travel as a railway employee, a flight simulation streamer, a solo traveler, and aviation-lover.

Up the top of Heavel, the highest point on Barra.

Please tell us about yourself.

I’m based in London. I’m twenty-two years old and career-wise, I work in the railways. I work in travel, I do a lot of travel, I live in travel. I also have a YouTube account with 35,000 subscribers, where I do flight simulators and train simulators. My life revolves around travel. Whenever I get a couple days off work and if I’ve got extra cash, generally I’ll spend it on going somewhere new. I like going to places that are not your main touristy areas. I’ve been to places that you’ve probably never heard of like Lappeenranta in Finland, or Rzeszów in Poland. In spite of COVID, I’ve actually managed to double my travel stats this year and explore a whole lot more of the UK than I ever had done before.

What is it like working for the railways?

I work in customer service at one of the capital’s busiest stations, and help people with wherever they’re going to. That gives me another source of inspiration for travel because everyday I’m talking to passengers, seeing where they go to, and sometimes I’ll do a quick Google search and think ‘that looks nice, I’ll add that to my list of places to visit’. One of the benefits I get from working in a railway (although some call it a negative) is shift work. So you’re not stuck to your standard Monday to Friday, five days a week. I find myself every so often with a block of five or six days where I’m not working, and that’s time for me to travel. So I think my work-life balance is fantastic.

And how about your YouTube channel? How did that come about?

I started off streaming simulation content in 2016, just using YouTube as a hobby alongside school. When COVID lockdowns began, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 was released, and I started streaming that on my channel. All of a sudden, I found myself jumping from about 5,000 subscribers to 35,000. I really like to share my knowledge and what I enjoy with a wider audience. I’ve also learned a lot about how the operation of aircraft works. Moving forward, I’d love to integrate more personal content like trip reports, highlight lesser-known places that people don’t really go to, etc.

Looking out at the Hebrides from my BN Islander.

Where would you say your love for travel comes from?

It started off as a love for flying. When I was younger, every year, we’d fly out to Poland and see my grandparents. I got a taste of looking out at the world below and I just loved the feeling of being in the airplane. Nowadays, I appreciate the time to be away from the Internet, away from the world for a few hours, and just disconnect from everything. When I turned nineteen, I took it a step further and bought a cheap plane ticket out to Stockholm on my first proper solo trip. I proved to myself that I could go somewhere alone, and then I thought, ‘how far can I take this’? After that, I got hooked and did more solo trips back to Stockholm again, and also to Milan, Venice, and Paris. In 2021, I set a goal for myself to travel around the UK and really explore it as a whole. Since then, I’ve been up to the Shetland Islands, over to Penzance, to Northern Ireland, and even to an obscure airport in Scotland called Barra, where instead of a paved runway, there’s a beach (and a beach bar!). As the water rises and lowers, that determines if the runway is active or not. That was probably my favorite domestic destination that I discovered this year. I also challenged myself to see what are the most obscure aircraft I can fly on, such as the Embraer 145 and 135, the Twin Otter, the Dornier 228, the ATR 42, and more!

Barra Airport (BRR) has a unique tidal beach runway.

Have you set any travel goals for 2022?

Now that the borders have opened up again, I plan to go international in the upcoming year. I’d like to travel beyond Europe and visit America, Japan, and Australia. New York would probably be at the top of my list.

To wrap up, is there anything you want to share with the App in the Air community?

Don’t be afraid to get out there. Don’t be afraid to see the world. Your first trip may be the most daunting, but it’ll be the best experience you ever have. If you get the opportunity, take it with open arms and just enjoy yourself.

Flying over the Alps enroute to Athens.

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