Tour Director Sam has worked with us for just over two years, she spends time working in the office but often finds herself out on tour too, we've put the kettle on and asked her a few questions about what travel means to her & her family…
Where have you travelled to with The Big Journey Company?
Vietnam, Cambodia, Spain, Ireland and the English Lake District so far! Cambodia was a new place for me to visit and I loved it, it's a real melting pot of cultures with a fascinating history and a good holiday climate. A highlight of this trip for me, as well as the guests, was watching the sun rise over the silhouette of Angkor Wat. I had always wanted to explore the huge temples and hidden corners, of what is the world's largest religious site, so much so that I returned about six weeks later to visit again, this time with my family.
How big of a part does travel play in your life?
We love to travel as a family, in the last 18 months my husband Kyle, our daughters Bella & Alice and I have spent time in Cambodia, Denmark, Germany, cycling in The Netherlands, skiing in France, wildlife spotting on the Isle of Skye and kayaking off the Welsh coast. We spent a month in Cambodia as a family, trekking in the rainforest with Elephants, spotting the world's most endangered Dolphins in the Mekong river, crossing to secluded islands on bridges built from bamboo and hunting mystery creatures on the coast at Sihanouksville, they turned out to be sea cucumbers!
What do you gain from travel?
When I travel, it is all about experiencing the culture of the countries I visit, learning more about the places and people, food and sometimes about physical activity too. I always take a local phrase book with me and try to learn at least of the basics. There is no better way to make a friend away from home than to speak at least a few words to them in their own language. It never fails to raise a smile and sometimes it also lowers the cost of your purchases!
I imagine myself in years to come, sitting by the fire, reminding myself of the wonderful times we have had. Like the time my husband Kyle found half a caterpillar in his food in a fancy restaurant in Bangkok, the chef came out & just laughed at him and asked what he had done with the other half! Or when we went to Morocco and took the English weather with us- it snowed in areas of the Atlas mountains where it had never snowed before. The taxi driver couldn't close his windows as he never usually needed to. We were on our way to see the Sahara Desert, trekking and getting to understand the particular foibles of camels and it rained for two full days, ending a 10 year drought. We weren't that happy, but all the Berber men we met were very, very pleased.
Bella & Alice, can you pick a favourite country that you have visited?
Bella - France. This was the first time I ever flew in an aeroplane and I was so, so excited. That's why I remember it so well. We went to Cannes with our friends Fin and Rudy. It was so warm and there were palm trees. I loved the croissants, pain au chocolat & chocolat chaud. We explored Cannes and learned that cork is actually the bark of a tree. We saw pink lightning over the sea and a French lady told us to keep away from the water in case we were electrocuted!
Alice - Cambodia. We got to feed elephants bananas. Bananas are easier for elephants to eat than the bamboo, grass and leaves they graze on. If elephants poo has big bits of banana peel in, that shows the elephants teeth are worn and she is an old elephant. We slept in hammocks in a forest lodge and our guide made us tiny birds from palm leaves. I loved the butterflies and the lizards and discovered a new type of snorkel, which Mummy then bought me for my birthday! When I am older I will have a Khmer Cafe, serving Khmer curry, rice and no pancakes. You won't be able to buy any deep-fried insects in the cafe either, unlike Cambodia where they eat tarantulas and crickets.
Why do you think travel is important for you & your children?
I feel travel broadens their horizons, giving them the opportunity to experience how others live, to see for themselves what other cultures hold as important. It helps them to use these experiences to inform their own decisions and passions, this is why I love to travel with my girls. Travelling together is so much fun, quality family time can easily get neglected at home, at the expense of chores and daily routine. I think many of our happiest family times are when we are way from home.
Where to next ?…
Ooo, I could spend paragraphs and paragraphs on this one, this is the bit I get excited about!
With The Big Journey Company I am heading to Spain & Portugal.
With the family we will be heading to our cottage in Wales to play on the beach and enjoy the kayaks. Spending time on our narrow boat on the canal, and taking the camper van up into the beautiful English Lake District. I have bought a new book, 'Geology Walks in the Lake District' to help us explore further and learn more about the area on foot. There's a local music festival to look forward to when we have our annual visit from Nastya, a young girl who lives in Belarus alongside looking forward to some skiing in the Scottish Highlands. I also have a plan hatching to explore Sri Lanka for six weeks in January 2019 so watch this space!
On my wish list are spending a month in Bhutan, cruising the Galapagos and trek to Machu Picchu in Peru. I'd love to learn Spanish at the Mariposa Language school in Nicaragua and take the Trans-Siberian express train from Moscow to Beijing, as well as travel Poland with my friend Eva to see her home country from her perspective, especially the family farm that she tells stories about.
Best get packing!