Travel can mean different things to different people. It can be seen as a fun pastime, a bucket-list goal, a way to relax or even (for the lucky few) part of a job. For Angela McLean, it has become an exciting part of her life. She believes that travelling is in her DNA!
Angela, 51, from Perth in Australia, is a self-employed accountant and passionate traveller. She has embarked on five tours with Expat Explore since 2017 and shares her best travel highlights, insights and advice with us below.
From the romantic streets of Paris and ancient history of Rome, to the mysteries of Machu Picchu and the scenic shores of the Mediterranean, the world is filled with incredible things to see, do and experience.
“This is what makes travel so valuable,” says Angela. Over the years she has spent exploring the globe, Angela has learned that travel gives you the freedom to learn more not only about the world but about yourself too. It gives you the chance to shake up your routine and meet new people, while giving you a deep appreciation for home at the same time.
“I think it’s the most liberating thing you can do,” she shares.
Angela’s love of travelling began at an early age.
“My entire family are travellers. I am definitely an explorer at heart,” says Angela, “My first trip was as an infant. My parents are from Belfast and we travelled to see family many times when I was young. My first time travelling independently was to Canada in 1988 for three months. I have also been to Hawaii, Singapore and Indonesia in my 20s. Afterwards, I didn’t travel for a long time because I was a single mum and didn’t have the opportunity.”
When her children had finished school, Angela went back to her travel roots and took her first trip with Expat Explore in 2017, joining the Highlights of France tour. “Paris and France had always been very high on my bucket list and when I found the tour I jumped at the opportunity,” she shares.
Since then, Angela has visited Italy, Turkey, Croatia and Eastern Europe on Expat Explore tours, “What I love about travel is seeing original architecture and artworks as well as experiencing other cultures.”
Seeing bucket-list destinations, experiencing new cultures and visiting new countries all come as part of the travel package. But an added bonus is the way travel allows you to meet people from all over the world and make lasting connections – especially on group tours!
“My friend from Canada is travelling with me (on my next tour). We met when I was in Canada in 1988 and have been friends ever since! We now meet every year somewhere in the world and travel together. She came with me to Turkey last year and the year before we met in Italy,” shares Angela.
“I have made many friends from all over the world from travelling with “strangers” (on group tours),” Angela explains. A friend she met on tour in Italy even invited her to a birthday in Jamaica in 2018! “Last year I flew to Brisbane in Australia to catch up with seven people that I travelled within France. One flew in from New Zealand – we had a great long weekend together!”
Meeting new people offers great learning opportunities; “Just talking to people about their views on different situations and world events broadens your mind and allows you to view things from different perspectives!” says Angela. “While travelling, you’re constantly learning new things.”
One important lesson that Angela has learned is patience, “You need to go with the flow and have an open mind. You won’t always get to see everything you want and there is always at least one person on the tour that will be challenging. Don’t let that one person impact your experience.”
Group tours prove to be great travel options for many people – they offer a fun and convenient way to travel, with trusted tour leaders and the company of like-minded travellers. “They’re great fun,” says Angela, “You meet so many interesting people and have many opportunities to interact with the group. The other benefit is that you can separate yourself from the group too if you want some time alone.”
Even more benefits include the great price and covering many top destinations. It takes the hassle out of travel, “you don’t have to think too much, you just get on the bus and go to the next destination,” Angela explains.
For solo travellers, Angela believes group tours are an amazing way to visit new places. “If you have never travelled solo before I would recommend travelling with a group such as Expat Explore. You will have the comfort of knowing that everything is arranged, and you can just jump on for the ride. You will meet great people and you also have the benefit of having some alone time if you need it. I have paid the single supplement for my own room and travelled solo sharing a room with another solo traveller. Both are great. I had a great roommate when I shared and that made the experience a rewarding one,” says Angela.
Angela also likes to add a few days before and after her tours to see any points not covered during the trip or to spend more time in spots she loved. It also gives her important time to relax after whirlwind adventures.
Angela has been lucky enough to make memories in incredible places! An absolute highlight was getting to celebrate her birthday in Monet’s garden in Giverny before being surprised with a river cruise and dinner by friends from the tour group that evening!
Any other highlights? Almost too many to list!
Paris tops Angela’s list while Sicily, Alberobello and Venice all score highly. She lists Budapest and Croatia as two of the most beautiful spots she has visited. Turkey ranks near the top thanks to its variety of fascinating destinations.
“The most interesting place I have been to so far would be Rome. The history, the art, the culture and the piazza’s and the people watching – you can spend many hours just wondering, taking in the scenery. I added five days in Rome after my tour and loved every minute of it,” says Angela.
Angela’s next tour with Expat Explore? The Northern Explorer which covers Scandinavia as well as Eastern and Central Europe – sure to be a grand adventure!
Travel gives you the freedom to embrace the world and Angela plans on continuing to follow her wanderlust.
“Give it a go! There is so much in this world to see and experience. It will broaden your views of life in general, challenge you and you will learn a lot about yourself as well as the world. It will give you an appreciation for home and your own life that we often take for granted and you will meet wonderful people who will become life-long friends.”
What are you waiting for? Give travel a go!