• 4 June 2020

Meet Philippa Jeanette Sumlin, 53, who is an ICU nurse from Maryland in the USA. Philippa and her husband Anthony took their first trip with Expat Explore back in 2018. Since then, they have explored amazing countries in Europe and made incredible memories. Philippa shares her love of travel and highlights from her tours as well as her advice for your first trip abroad with us – read more below!


I am Philippa Jeanette Sumlin (PJ), at present a whopping 53-year-old old black woman originally from Nassau, Bahamas, but I presently reside in the United States in the city of Accokeek in Maryland, with my family. My husband Anthony and I would have been married 30 years on 3 July 2020. At present, I am an ICU nurse that has been practising for over 26 years. 

I do consider myself an “explorer” at heart. Travelling is something that I have always done and wanted to do even if just to travel to a nearby city and stay in a hotel. Travelling is something I love because it allows me to enjoy seeing the different places and scenes from the many books that I have read. Also, I love to eat, evidenced by the round face (LOL) and tummy that is normally colourfully camouflaged beneath flared colourful tops!

The choices of tour guides that helped to give us the experience have been on point, each wonderful in their own way and fantastic for the tours.

 

FIRST TRIP TO EUROPE

The first opportunity I had to travel to Europe was in 2018 on the Europe Escape tour. When I first told friends that I was getting ready to travel to Europe, their fears and concerns about pickpockets, possible kidnapping because of having US nationality as well as accidents while being so far away, was a little frightening. Even my husband was very sceptical about travelling with a lot of strangers. But I am a praying woman and the one prayer and hope I had was that the experience would be better than expected and that my money would not be wasted. My prayers were answered, and the trip was unbelievable and unforgettable and so memorable. 

It was so fantastic that I booked my next trip as soon as I got back home!

Sightseeing Spain Italy advice first trip
Seeing Europe for the first time is unforgettable! Anthony pictured in Spain and Philippa pictured in Italy.
Building Spain advice first trip
Spain is a destination Philippa will never forget.
GROUP TOURS ARE THE BEST WAY TO TRAVEL

The motivation to travel came from my Filipino co-workers who often travel once a year and share the exciting, exotic photos from their trips. When it was decided that we would all go, I was determined to take my first European trip with Expat Explore tours. I had always wanted to travel and see a lot of places but as I am getting older, I did not want to just visit one place at a time. I prefer travelling by train or vehicle and a comfortable bus ride was always my preference.

Why Expat Explore?

Expat Explore was the choice because of the cost, the time frame, the places available to see as well as the many online responses for those persons that had travelled with Expat Explore in the past.

What helped me trust Expat Explore was the caring attitude and the family-like atmosphere and the safe protective mindset that was provided to us all. In general, the whole process – from the initial booking with various payment plans, the upfront itinerary which helped with planning and budgeting, the choices on where to stay and most importantly, the well cared for vehicles, it was a fantastic process, no pain what-so-ever!

Couple sightseeing Europe advice first trip
Travelling to Europe for the first time can be daunting! But completing the trip with a group tour means less time for stress and more time for fun!

The choices of tour guides that helped to give us the experience have been on point, each wonderful in their own way and fantastic for the tours. In Europe, Emma gave us history, knowledge and understanding of the countries that we saw that was priceless. She made sure that we accomplished that was needed to ensure that the experience was all that it should be. She was an excellent tour guide for many of the places we visited. 

In Spain and Portugal, Pedro was able to give some history and made the experience so personable that he was priceless in his own way. He and our first driver Ruben made sure that we “experienced” Portugal and Spain. They went out of their way to give us the best experience even if it meant making a slight detour for a better option – Priceless! I would do the Spain & Portugal tour again if it meant having Pedro and Ruben as my tour team!

Expat Explore travel crew and guest advice first trip
The crew make the trip special! Philippa pictured with Pedro and Carlos from the Spain and Portugal Tour.

Embarking on an organized tour is the way for me to travel in the future. They allow me to find time for myself while providing a full and safe adventure.

My next travel plans with Expat Explore are scheduled for later in 2020, to visit Greece in September. I am praying that the trip remains available. This present world health situation is currently genuinely concerning with many painful experiences that I have had to deal with. I keep looking forward to my future Greece trip as a way to keep my sanity. Many people have asked if I will take the risk to take the trip. My response has been “YES”. 

MEMORABLE EXPERIENCES

The most memorable 2018 experience was our bus driver, Martin, who at first was very stern and we thought that if we breathed too hard, we would get in trouble. But it turned out that he was the sweetest ever! He was an awesome driver and once he relaxed, he was a load of fun. Our bus was immaculate inside and out and no matter the speed or traffic situation, it truly felt safe with him as our driver. 

My favourite 2019 experience occurred when we went to the beach on the Spain tour. The day was hot, and the sand was burning. I went to the water with the expectation of semi-cool waters. The shock of the cold water took my breath away, in fact, I felt as if a cardiac arrest was in my immediate future! I think I laughed for about 10 minutes while trying to breathe – what an experience!

Visit Spain beach advice first trip
Braving the surprising cold waters on Spain’s coast was an memorable moment for Philippa.

I know that my experience would have been different if I had attempted to venture the same travel route experience on my own. I would have wasted time on trying to find places, experience different venues and not have felt as safe. Embarking on an organized tour is the way for me to travel in the future. The group tour allowed me to find time for myself while providing a full and safe adventure.

TRAVELLING WITH A GROUP OF STRANGERS

Travelling with people who I had met for the first time has never been a problem, I am a nurse!! What more can be said? Because of my profession, I feel that I was more prepared to deal with people no matter their race, creed or disposition and I feel that the different cultures are no different from other cultures I have had the honour of experiencing in my work role.  

Related:  Travel is always #BetterTogether – find out more about what makes group trips one of the best ways to see more of the world. 

Sightseeing Switzerland friends advice first trip
Making friends and seeing the world with loved ones is a special part of travel.

I feel that most of us on the tour had the same basic desire, to get the most out of seeing and experiencing the world with a minimal cost and a concentrated amount of time.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE TOURS

Highlights…too many to count! Switzerland and the views, beer from Germany, beer in general and food from Germany, the traditional desserts from Portugal, food from Spain, (can you tell what I am interested in…). Not a big fan of France except for the wine, and glad we had a chance to see Notre Dame before the fire. The Port from Portugal, I will be ordering online the first chance I get!

Sightseeing Louvre Paris advice first trip
Philippa encountered a number of iconic spots during her Europe Escape tour including The Louvre in Paris.
Happy couple Venice advice first trip
Philippa and Anthony pictured in Venice, Italy. Making memories in new places!
MOST INTERESTING DESTINATIONS

Most interesting for sure was Spain/Portugal. Loved the culture that was given to us first-hand by Pedro. His love for his country allowed me to appreciate the experience even more. Our first driver Ruben and him made an awesome team.

ADVICE TO PEOPLE WHO ARE TAKING THEIR FIRST TRIP

The one thing that I would share with someone who had never travelled before, and this may be biased, would be to take a road trip with a group like Expat Explore because of the many experiences that are available for a reasonable cost and for the protective environment the group maintained. The experience would give you confidence and security in being able to venture out and travel.

For a person going overseas on their own, the same would apply. Try a group like Expat Explore – with the two experiences I have had, I still feel like family with friends I have kept up with from the tours.


 

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