VBT’s Amazing Trip Leaders
Your personal guide, inside connection, and partner in discovery
At a recent Boston VBT traveler gathering, Geri M. reminded us “You do know what gems you have in your Trip Leaders, don’t you?” Yes, we know the success of your trip largely depends on the care provided by your VBT Trip Leader – which is why we hire and train only the best! After all, the reason you might have decided to take a group tour in the first place was so someone else could handle the details while you relax and enjoy. That’s a responsibility our Trip Leaders don’t take lightly, and the proof is in the numbers: 94% of VBT guests rate their Trip Leaders “excellent.”
94% of VBT travelers rate our leaders “excellent”
Maryland, South Carolina and Georgia
They weren’t giving out degrees in Fun when Abby went to college, so she got one in Recreation Management instead. Expect smooth sailing as you savor the best of Tidewater and Low Country living. “I love to show guests how to ‘pick crabs ‘ in Maryland, to dance the Virginia Reel in South Carolina, and where to get amazing ice cream in Savannah (a shop with 100 year old recipes.)” Abby’s family settled in Maryland in the early 1800s, but “settling” is not something you’ll often find this enthusiastic traveler, biker, surfer, backpacker, kiteboarder, and kayaker doing. “I’m always trying to be in the water or on my bike”.
Amalfi Coast - Ulisse was born and raised in Naples, a place he describes as a “great city to get your ‘citizen of the world’ diploma.” English was his first language (thanks to his American-born mother) and he credits that linguistic heritage as the source of his ability to relate to guests quickly and understand their sense of humor. Indeed, humor is a big part of traveling with Ulisse, who thinks that laughter should be a key ingredient of every trip – closely followed by memorable walks, pasta of all kinds, discussions on Italy’s history and quirky politics, and good wine.
Peru - When we asked Carlos why people like traveling with him, he laughed “because I’m good looking – AND I have a sense of humor!” They also appreciate his deep knowledge of Incan civilization, and keen naturalist’s eye. Carlos began leading Inca Trail tours in 1993, then spent nine years in the Amazon working with filmmakers and naturalists. Today he’s one of the most recognized bird-watching guides in Peru. Sit down with him over his favorite meal (a bowl of locro de pecho, potato and beef puree), and let him regale you with tales of the lost city of Machu Picchu.
Tuscany - An Italian father, American mother, a childhood in India, Italy, and Russia, and travels all over Europe gave Angelo a true appreciation for multiculturalism. But it’s Tuscany that has his heart. Why? Maybe it’s the food. Angelo loves to cook and claims that “Italy has the best wine in the world … the best food … the best olive oil!” Maybe it’s the coast. “My favorite thing to do is relax by the sea.” Or maybe it’s simply his love for the “interesting details of nature, the peaceful life style, and the passion for the simple things of life that make Tuscany one of the most beautiful places in the world.”
once developed and ran an outdoor adventure program for New Zealanders over fifty, and is now happy to share her expertise with VBT travelers. She loves the freedom of the outdoors and sharing the Maori legends behind the places we visit. Jan says “I’m the mother hen who likes to make sure my guests are happy, well informed, well fed and having a great time while getting the New Zealand experience.
” As the locals say when something is great, “sweet as
Spain - Jorge was born in Madrid but now lives in one of the tiny pueblos blancos (“white villages”) nestled in the sierras near Granada. It’s the same area you’ll be cycling on VBT’s Andalusia tour, so if you appreciate getting the insider’s perspective, Jorge’s your man! Jorge trained as a dental prosthetic technician but his real passions are travel and outdoor sports. When not leading VBT trips he enjoys rock climbing, mountain biking, and creating metal handicrafts. Jorge loves sharing Spain’s easygoing way of life and its “influences from many different cultures.” He also enjoys initiating his guests into the pleasures of Spain’s Mediterranean cuisine, “especially, the paella.”
Netherlands - Guests love Marieke’s optimism, which might stem from the fact that she grew up in a town built on land reclaimed from the sea. It’s lovely now but when Marieke was four, “there was nothing there, no streets, no trees just sand as far as you could see.” Today she’ll teach you how her country has managed water, and how you can manage drinking Dutch jenever (gin) and walking in wooden shoes. Marieke studied film and geography and has traveled from the Himalayas to the Ecuadorian rain forest, Indonesia to Iran, and far beyond. Ever positive, she says “if I just end up cycling through the Netherlands, I’m quite satisfied too.” You’ll be very satisfied to cycle beside her. (pictured at left)
The Czech Republic - “You can never deny your roots!” says Zuzana, who was born in the former Czechoslovakia, but emigrated to Canada with her family when she was three. When the Communist regime fell during the 1989 “Velvet Revolution,” she returned to the new Czech Republic, falling in love with her homeland all over again. Among the things she loves to share is the “nicest little town in the Czech Republic, Czesky Krumlov,” svicková (marinated beef sirloin with dumplings and cream), and the fact that the Czech Republic has “the best beer.”
Croatia - Lada “likes the traditional greeting of Hvar islanders, Zdravi bili! (be healthy), “I veseli!” (be joyful.) You feel healthy and happy after a great cycling day, when Lada invites you to kick back Croatian-style with her favorite fresh grilled fish with parsley, a glass of wine, and a great sea view. She’s an avid sailor who’s explored most of Dalmatia’s 1244 islands, and a trained landscape architect with a special interest in native plants. But Lada’s greatest interest is introducing new friends to her country, “a beautiful place with a soul. Exploring it is a wonder and a joy.”
France - Inspired by other lands as well as his native Provence, Pascal has made cultural exploration one of his lifelong pursuits… in addition to music, cycling and cooking! He has ventured around Europe onto Morocco, the U.S., and finally back to his home in Avignon, where he now lives with his wife and daughter. In 2000, Pascal was able to turn his passions for exploration, cycling and cooking into one profession, joining VBT as a Trip Leader. Accomplished in all three pursuits, his fervor for exploring Provence is sure to inspire you, and his Daube à la Provençale, paired with a glass of local wine, will invigorate your senses!