A TV and travel presenter has revealed how her work has brought her to visit dozens of remote countries around the world. She’s been given vacations abroad — and even paid to stay in luxury resorts.
Hayley Marie Sparkes, 40, from Essex, has always wanted to be a TV presenter. It was her childhood dream, but travel is also her main goal in life.
Unfortunately, during her childhood and early teen years, she contracted a serious autoimmune condition that made vacations abroad “too risky.” Sometimes, when she was supposed to be on holiday in the UK with her family, Hayley was so sick she couldn’t get out of bed.
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She told the Daily Star: “I contracted a severe auto-immune condition that eventually left me bedridden and unable to do the everyday things most of us take for granted. One of the best parts of my job is that I’m able to make up for lost time.”
After several life-saving surgeries, Hayley was healthy and went on to work as a TV host for ITV’s This Morning, as well as presenting travel documentaries and even a digital series for Jet2Holidays.
Her career has also made up for those missed holiday years, as she travels the world for her work, including becoming a brand ambassador for travel agency Not Just Travel.
“My job allows me to travel the world not only for free, but with pay,” she explains.
“As a TV presenter, I’ve been to Taiwan, Mauritius, Belgium, Turkey, Paris, Italy, Ibiza, etc. As a writer, model and luxury travel influencer, I’ve also taken gift trips from hotels and resorts in countries including Bali and Portugal.”
But, Hayley doesn’t just get to fly to far-flung locations – she gets to experience the best there is. “As a Travel Host, you often do a job where you showcase the best that a country has to offer, so you get experiences that are sometimes not accessible or available to everyday holidaymakers,” she notes.
“Tourist boards often give you special access to filming. Salaries will vary widely depending on the job you take on, but perks can make up for that. Most jobs in the industry will include the opportunity to travel for free or at a discount.”
Hayley added: “One of the most luxurious experiences I’ve had while traveling was during my stay at a women’s resort in Bali. You can enjoy spas and holistic treatments all day, literally without restrictions.
“Perhaps you’ll get a two-hour massage after breakfast, then a therapist will come and paint your nails while you can relax by the pool. Then you can get a hair treatment and scalp massage while sunbathing, then acupressure in the afternoon.”
“The treatments can be all day, every day, whatever you want. There are so many great treatments to choose from. I really feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven, I’ll never forget that.”
However, her favorite place to visit is Mauritius. She commented: “My television presentation has taken me to the beautiful island of Mauritius three times and it truly holds a special place in my heart.
“The people of Mauritius are amazing. Mauritius is often described as a ‘rainbow country’, due to the archipelago’s diverse and multilingual society. Different religious groups often worship side by side, they live peacefully together, there is almost no crime, so it’s a very safe tourist destination.”
Yet despite the incredible perks of the job, Hayley says being a TV presenter is more than just going to the spa and sunbathing. It can be hard work – even if it’s worth it.
Some days, she had to get up at 4 a.m. to film. She explained, “This could be for filming at sunrise or taking some shots with wild dolphins or climbing mountains. From that point on, I would have to be constantly moving, often driving from place to place to shoot works for the camera, and also to shoot social media content and models.
“Shows don’t have scripts, so I have to figure out in each location what I need to say for that cinematographic element. You have to be constantly on the move and I often doze off on the way to filming in a new destination, then wake up when I arrive and need to have the camera ready in seconds.
“I used to work 16 hours a day for two weeks straight without an hour off for myself. The only time to rest was on the flight home!”
Hayley notes: “Instead of focusing on fatigue, I try to change my mindset, you just have to get over it and admit that you can start resting and sleeping when you get back to your normal routine, I never want to miss a single moment.”