Meet Sanny Rodriguez, 22-year-old traveller from the Philippines who lives and works in Dubai. Sanny completed 2 Expat Explore tours and will be joining us for another in August 2017. This is how he started to travel the world and why he believes solo adventures broaden your horizons…
I’ve always wanted to travel. I studied hospitality management in the Philippines and these days I work for a German company based in Dubai. During my studies I also did a lot of short courses about tourism, which has always interested me. Our teachers would share these wonderful videos about different countries across Europe. I fell in love with the idea of travelling and promised myself that I would see the other side of the world. I knew that I was a traveller at heart and there was no looking back.
So many countries, so little time!
Because I was so excited to see Europe, it was great to find guided multi-country tours. I chose Expat Explore because I was impressed by their web presence. When I planned my first tour at the last minute, I took to Google. I typed in ‘Europe holidays from Dubai’ and Expat ranked organically. When I saw they offered guided group coach tours I was thrilled. I have a strong personality and make friends quickly, so this is the perfect travel set-up for me when I go on solo adventures. Best of all, their booking team’s response was fast as lightning. Because I was booking on a whim, this helped me a lot.
I have done two Expat Explore multi-country coach tours so far. I first went on the Classic Europe tour which visited 6 countries. This included Netherlands, Belgium, France and Switzerland. We also visited Italy, Vatican City and Germany (my favourite!). It was everything I hoped for and more. I arrived two days before the tour started and explored Amsterdam on my own. I can highly recommend this approach to all travellers. This way you can tailor your experience to include more of your must-see places.
Our tour was led by an Englishman named Steve. Steve could very well be a history professor. His knowledge and trivia of each country was impressive. Our coach chauffeur Martin, a Dutchman. Some of my favourite experiences on the Classic Europe tour included seeing the lights of the Eiffel Tower at night. It was so beautiful that for a moment I truly thought it was a dream. To visit the Louvre and see the Mona Lisa was also remarkable. Not to mention the fresh air blowing from the Swiss Alps! Visiting the Vatican State was also very special for me because I am Catholic. Oh, and Italy! I adored exploring Venice and seeing famous landmarks like the Tower of Pisa and Trevi Fountain.
On the road with the professionals
When I went back home, I couldn’t stop thinking about my trip or looking at all my photos. So I booked another tour for October. This time I wanted to explore the Eastern countries of Europe to learn more about World War II. I was not disappointed. The Eastern Highlights took us to seven countries. This included Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland. We also visited Slovakia, Hungary, Austria and Slovenia. The tour was led by another Englishman named Stephen; our bus chauffeur Zoltan was from Hungary.
My favourite memories of this tour include seeing the astronomical clock in Prague and walking on the Charles Bridge with the locals. The visit to Kutná Hora and the famous bone church was also amazing. After that we visited Auschwitz in Poland. Here I felt the agony and pain of all the victims at the concentration camp back in World War II. I have watched the movie The Boy in Striped Pajamas and it was remarkable seeing the setting in person. Other highlights include seeing the dragon bridge in Ljubljana and enjoying a dinner cruise on the Danube. Not to mention beautiful Vienna and the scenic Lake Bled in Slovenia. Hearing the noise of falling leaves while watching the swans on the lake was a million dollar view.
Travel is so rewarding
No man is an island. With Expat Explore, I travelled by myself but I never felt alone. In fact, I made lasting friendships on every tour. Now, every time I book a tour I look forward to meeting new people from all over the world. It is the best way to learn more about different cultures. I also believe that you do not meet anyone by accident. Every meeting has a purpose. This is why I make a point of talking to different people on tour every day. During free days I usually go to museums (lots have free entrance). Sometimes I like to join in on a little tradition that emerged in our groups. That is to find a high-rise place from where you can see the entire city you’re in. In Paris we went up the Montparnasse Tower; in Prague it was Prague Castle. In Budapest it was the Fisherman’s Bastion.
I enjoy group travel so much that I sometimes have a little separation anxiety when the tour ends. I miss the daily routine of waking up early and meeting everyone in at the lobby. Then having breakfast together and going back to the hotel exhausted after a long walking tour or so. However, I am still in touch with lots of my travel buddies via social media. This will come in handy when I start planning tours to other countries. It helps to ask a local for tips. One of my tour friends, Nancy from the USA, even offered to host me in Florida!
As for coach travel, a guided bus tour is great way to see a country. You get to see both the cities and the countryside. Sitting on a coach on a long drive is good time to appreciate the scenery. I am such a loyal fan of Expat Explore and will be doing my third tour with them in August 2017 (Northern Explorer). This will be an 18-day journey. I can’t wait!
No man is an island. With Expat Explore, I travelled by myself but I never felt alone – Sanny
Sanny’s Top Travel Tip: Find out about visas as soon as you book your trip!
As the holder of a Filipino passport I sometimes have difficulty with travel. Always check the visa requirements of the various destinations you will travel to. The compile all the documents before submitting your application. This helps to avoid any issues or inconvenience. This is what I did when I applied for a Schengen visa with multiple entries to travel within the Schengen States. I was also happy to have the help of the very efficient Expat Explore team. They were there to assist me from start to finish. It may sound like a sales pamphlet, but it’s really true!