Meet Hugh Slater, a 23-year-old adventurer from Newbury in England. Hugh has a yen for all things travel, and recently completed the Europe Jewel tour with his girlfriend Natalie. Along the way, he shot some stellar footage and compiled it into this awesome video to commemorate their trip. We caught up with Hugh to find out more about his travelling style, why they chose to travel with Expat Explore and what his advice would be for people who are new to travel. Here’s what he had to say.
My first experience with Expat Explore was this year. My girlfriend Natalie and I had been on holiday to Greece the year before, and when we got back we were keen to find a new adventure to go on. When we found the Europe Jewel tour, it was exactly what we’d been looking for. However, my love of travel had started a lot earlier than that…
Paving the way to the road less travelled
I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to travel to places like Bordeaux and Valencia with my school. This is where the interest in travelling first started. My parents also took us on an annual holiday, although this became bi-annual as I got older and stopped completely when I finished school. Over the years they took me to some amazing places like Norway, Denmark, Spain, and amazingly, Hong Kong – where my mother lived for 26 years. The trip to Hong Kong really kick-started my travelling. I was 18 when we went and I was just about to start my year out between finishing school and starting university. I ended up doing quite a bit of travelling in my year out. I went all around England, and then visited a few choice places in Europe – Portugal, Greece, and Turkey. A couple of years later, my friend told me he was going to Cancun for his 21st birthday. I had saved my pennies throughout my time at university and the next day, I spent my savings on a 9-day trip to Mexico. These experiences paved the way to what I imagine will be a lifelong fascination with travel.
Heading the call to adventure with Expat Explore
When Natalie and I started shopping around for a tour around Europe, I remembered one of my friends had travelled with Expat Explore. We browsed the site and found the Europe Jewel, which was pretty much the perfect option for us. Natalie hadn’t done a lot of travelling before, and the tour included a lot of countries I hadn’t visited. Although neither of us had done a coach tour before, nor visited so many countries in so few days, we were keen to get on the rollercoaster ride!
Another deciding factor was that the price of the tour was so amazing in comparison to almost every other tour company. Once we booked and read more about what was included, we truly realised how incredible the tour actually was. When we went on the trip we found how affordable and convenient it was to have food included in the majority of places we visited. We also enjoyed the educational tours of each city, and the plethora of optional excursions we could choose from – there was really something for everyone on our tour, and that’s what made it so great. It was an amazing experience for us to meet new people, see new places, and experience things with the people we met, but also to enjoy those secluded moments in incredible places, just the two of us – it’s something I’ll treasure forever.
Give group travel a go!
If you’ve never travelled in a group before, do it. I’ve travelled a bunch of different ways – with my girlfriend, and a couple of friends. What I’ve learned is that travel is about the people you meet. It’s the stories, life lessons and traditions you learn from other people that is truly irreplaceable. Travelling with ‘strangers’ is part of what made the tour we did so amazing. Yes, it’s always good to go travelling with your friends from back home, but if you’re going into it blind then there’s the sense of excitement about who you’ll meet, what they’ll be like, what you can learn from everyone as individuals. Yes, you join the coach all as strangers, but you leave far from it – 14 days on a coach with a group of people does that to you! We left having met some wonderful people and made incredible friends from all over the globe. You may encounter the odd person that you don’t get along with as well, but with everything else you gain from the rest of the group, it’s pretty insignificant.
Create your own keepsakes
Wherever I go, I try to capture the things and places I discover on camera, whether it be a photo or on video. I will try and get everything recorded in some way or another. I’ve been taking photos for years now but the things you see around home just don’t come close to the sights and experiences you find while travelling. When you record these things, you are literally making memories that you’ll never lose.
When I was younger, I would always look through picture books, seeing all these places that seemed so far away. At the time, it was so farfetched to think that it would be able to visit these places. Now I have the ability to take my camera, visit these places and record it for myself. Not seeing pictures that other people have taken, not having to believe stories and sights that other people are telling, but actually experiencing it for myself. This is what I want to achieve from travelling. If I could pack up my bags and travel and discover with my camera for a living, I would take that job in a heartbeat!
Eat the weird thing
One of my favourite things about travelling to new places is sampling the local cuisine – I live for food! In every country I go to, no matter how slimy, smelly, burnt, and raw a local food is, I will give it a go. Expanding my knowledge of the foods of the countries I visit is pretty much as incredible as visiting the places themselves! As much as visiting the touristy, well-known attractions are amazing, there’s always something special about discovering a hidden cove, or a tiny restaurant down a winding alley. This is always what I’ll try to look for in a new place I go to.
Go with the flow
What travelling has taught me is to be open to everything, and be willing to give anything that’s thrown at you a go. Don’t go into everything expecting something from it. You gain so much more going in and just seeing what happens, rather than sticking to a very strict schedule. On a coach tour you have your travel and accommodation sorted, so use your free time to get out there. Pick up a local information guide and simply explore. Travelling is all about discovering new places and trying new things, so go out and do just that!
Watch Hugh’s incredible travel video about their Europe Jewel Tour: