• 29 October 2021

Last year saw travel plans put on pause but this year, we pressed play! The world is opening up and is ready to welcome travellers back! Expat Explore made travel possible when we hosted our first tour of 2021 in beautiful Greece. Co-founder Carl joined our excited travellers on the Best of Greece tour and was equally as thrilled to be back on the road! 

We chatted to Carl about what it was like to press play on travel after all this time and why he won’t be pressing pause again any time soon!

How did it feel to press play on travel once again?

To be honest, extremely emotional! For most of us, the passion to travel and to explore is part of our DNA and to have this taken away for almost two years just made me realise what a privilege travelling is. Seeing the world opening up again has totally encouraged me as a travel professional to make sure we can make travel possible again for everyone! I want to do my best in designing even better experiences for our amazing travel family.

Were you at all scared to press play on travel at this time?

No, because it was not us who paused travel in the first place. In the past 20 months, I made it a goal to keep travelling safely and as much as possible. I wanted to see firsthand how communities were coping with the effects of the pandemic and the lack of tourism. Keeping both ears on the ground allowed Expat Explore to make sure that we pressed play at the right time. 

Best of Greece tour group
After travel was put on pause for months, our explorers were eager to get back on the road!
Were there any concerns when it came to relaunching tours after +- 18 months of uncertainty? If so, what were they and how did Expat Explore address them?

All travellers know that planning and preparation are always required for any trip and destination. At Expat Explore, we are extremely experienced when it comes to planning and prepping. Adapting to the extra health and safety regulations was nothing new to us. The most important thing for us is to make sure that our guests remain 100% informed on the local regulations where they will be touring with us. With all of this in mind, we started running fantastic tours again in September 2021 and we look forward to making many more amazing memories! 

What made Greece an ideal place for the first tour of 2021?

Greece has worked extremely hard to roll out a very successful vaccination plan. Their focus was on getting staff and locals who live and work in tourist areas vaccinated first. In this way, they were slightly ahead of the rest of Europe. Another obvious reason is that everyone loves everything Greek! Just go and see the latest photos from our Explorers! 

Santorini, Greece
Through a successful vaccination plan, Greece has ensured that tourism to this beautiful country can continue safely.
In what ways would you say travel has changed since being put on pause all those months ago?

In all honesty, the destinations themselves have not changed much. The biggest change is having to wear masks indoors and social distance. Flying across international borders now has a few more additional steps to take note of. Make sure you follow the advice of both your airline and the destination that you are heading to. There are plenty of online tools and apps to help – as well as the fantastic Expat Explore Customer Service team!

Is there a funny story or favourite memory of something that happened on the tour?

Oh, every day of the 12-day tour brought about funny stories and memories! However, my favourite moment was seeing the reaction of our travellers when they discovered that local Greek wine costs less than $5 for a half litre carafe! This added to plenty of memorable moments! Also, the monasteries of Meteora never fail to impress but this time it felt even more divine and serene. That was also where we saw one of the best sunsets ever!

Meteora at sunset, Greece
Watching the sunset over the monasteries of Meteora is nothing short of spectacular!
How did the other travellers feel about travelling again?

For most, this was the first time they had left their hometowns since the pandemic started, so you can imagine their reactions when arriving in charming Athens! For the first day or two, we were very focused on making sure that we followed all the Covid-19 rules. Yet, at the same time, we almost instantly became passionate explorers again! Being part of a travel group was more special than ever before and the normal getting-used-to-each-other barriers didn’t last long at all! 

What did you learn from the other people on tour? 

Simply speaking – to party harder and enjoy each moment more! It may sound like a cliche, but I saw it first hand – not just from my fellow explorers but also from the locals! Greeks are known to be some of the best and most sincere hosts in Europe, but this has taken on a totally different dimension now! 

Tour Group in Greece
On a group tour, your fellow travellers become like family.

Related: To find out more about how our explorers enjoyed their Greece tour, read our latest Travel Story!

How does group travel allow travellers to feel safer or more comfortable?

Discovering new experiences together has always been one of our key focuses here at Expat Explore. It’s one thing to find yourself in a bucket list destination, but it’s another thing to create new memories and friendships that last a lifetime. Our secret? Just ask our thousands of regular returning travellers and they all will tell you the same thing: extraordinary tour leaders that treat everyone like family! Our tour leaders are not just great hosts, but they offer incredible expertise in the destinations visited. They provide all of this while making sure that the tours are well organised and conducted safely and professionally. 

Tour leader Matt, Greece
Co-founder Carl (left) and expert tour leader Matt (right), who made sure our travellers felt safe, informed and comfortable throughout our Greece tour.

Related: Wondering where to go this festive season? Find out which festive tours our tour leaders are looking forward to!

Why do you feel travel is an important thing for people from all over the world to experience? 

Once you start travelling, you realise how infinitely small your own world was. No matter how much you digitally “travel” over and over on your phone or laptop – your world will never expand in the same way as when you cross real borders! Once you do that, that’s when your education in real life truly begins. And when you travel, that education never ends!

Which destination will Expat Explore be pressing play on next? 

Right now you can press play on all of our 75 destinations! Invest in more memories for your money with our flexible booking terms and low early bird specials. For our very special travellers that want to push new boundaries, I’m very excited to announce that we’ve just launched our brand new Japan tours! We are also currently taking bookings for 2023 if you’re still unsure of the year ahead.

Highlights of Japan tour
Is Japan your next bucket list destination? Book Expat Explore’s Highlights of Japan tour now!
What words of advice would you share with someone who is considering booking a trip right now or in the near future? 

Try to travel even more and make up for lost time. Or rather, try to think of travel in a completely different way from now on and recognise the true difference it makes in your life. For those who are ready to press play, the good news is that there are plenty of great offers to welcome you back! It’s a great time to press play on real travel! 

Are you ready to press play on real travel and adventure? Take a look at our upcoming tours and find your next bucket list destination!

Questions & Comments

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