David with his wife Yuriko (centre) and their daughters Julie (far left) and Jane (far right).


Who is David Skillan?

On September 5, 1962, after growing up in the British Isles and spending five years at a boarding school in Wilhelmshaven, Germany, followed by two years as a young soldier in Northern Ireland and Berlin, I set off from England with just 50 English pounds to achieve my boyhood ambition of seeing the world. Eighty months later, after countless adventures and unforgettable experiences—building homes for refugees in Algeria and Ethiopia, running safari camps in Kenya and Tanzania, teaching English in Argentina and Japan, working as a jackeroo and roustabout in Australia and New Zealand, and more—I returned home with a wealth of international experience. I soon discovered that I wanted to return to these exotic, faraway places and share my love of travel and adventure with others. So I entered the travel industry, where I have been ever since.

~David Skillan

Everyone has heard of Phileas (some call him Phineas) Fogg, Jules Verne's famous nineteenth-century fictional character, who circumnavigated the globe in 80 days. David Skillan took rather longer—80 months (six and a half years)—while making a 1960s journey of personal discovery. (Actually, his travels started years before that, but that's another long story!) In 1969, David spent six months writing a book about his epic odyssey, which he called Around the World in Eighty Months. It has never been published.


David hitchhikingDavid wading
A youthful David on his 1960s trip of personal discovery.

Following his marathon backpacking trip, David spent five years with a Swiss-owned travel organization, based mostly in Africa and Southeast Asia. He helped grow that business into one of the world's largest tour operators.

In 1976, he established David Skillan's Travel Enterprises in Vancouver, Canada. He worked mostly as a freelance travel writer, tour manager, and tourism instructor, developing the course Tour Managing, Escorting, and Guiding for the British Columbia Institute of Technology. In 1985, David established a tour company, Skillan’s Tours and Safaris, which he ran for nearly 20 years. He is now a freelance tour leader, representing other well-established tour companies, doing what he does best and enjoys most—leading and hosting tours.

He travelled on a shoestring throughout the 1960s, and has since spent many years escorting first-class tours that often stay in the world’s finest hotels. David feels fortunate to have seen the world both the hard way and the easy way.

David Skillan is one of Canada's most experienced and respected travel professionals. He values the relationships he has built within his network of clients over the years, and always looks forward to meeting new fellow travellers and adventurers.

Dedicated to fostering goodwill and understanding, David believes the more people travel, the greater the chance for world peace.


“Skillan never regrets
the challenge and adventure
of his early years of travel.
Not only have these shaped him
and made of him
the quintessential tour manager,
they have provided him with memories
that most people cannot even imagine.”

                  ~British Columbia's Business Examiner



David and Yuriko on their wedding day

David and Yuriko Skillan on their wedding day, 1973.


Yuriko on Long Beach, Vancouver Island

Yuriko on Long Beach, Vancouver Island.


David and Julie in Kenya

David and his daughter Julie on safari in Kenya.


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