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Travel Update: COVID-19

Meet APT Tour Director - Karen Newman

Since July 2014, Karen Newman has enjoyed her experience as a Tour Director with APT particularly when it comes to the variety and quality of tours available. 

What does your job entail and what do you love most about your job? 

I am responsible for running tours from the first point of departure, and look after the passengers' wellbeing to ensure that all aspects of their tour are fulfilled. In preparation for the tour, I'll call all the hotels, restaurants, local guides and suppliers, transport so that nothing is left to chance to make sure all elements of the tour are confirmed. I also arrange any extra visits to be included like lunch venues or places of interest, which I feel will enhance the daily itinerary. As a tour director, I do all my own research and give commentary on the coach. 

Other aspects of my role involve the Freedom of Choice excursions and making bookings accordingly. Some of the restaurants we use require preorders so I'll give guests the menu, take their orders then call them in. I assist with hotel check-in and labelling suitcases for room delivery. On departure day, I'll check I have all the guests' suitcases before we load them onto the coach.

As a rule, I'll always go over the route and timings with the coach driver, preferring scenic routes to quick motorway travel. I enjoy the fact that no day is ever the same and sharing my knowledge of the places we visit, bringing places alive. For some, the holiday could be a dream of a lifetime and you want to ensure clients go home having had a magical trip.
Portrait of Karen Newman APT

What is your favourite thing about for APT?

For my first tour, I was thrilled to be sent to Istanbul. This was my first introduction to the company and I soon realised how professional their product was; top-class hotels, excellent local ground agents and guides, included excursions and quality transport. I also like the fact that clients have the Freedom of Choice – allowing the individual client to decide how to spend their free time. It was clear that APT wanted the best for their clients. I enjoy the quality and diversity of the tours. It’s great to know that at the end of a long travelling day, we will reach a top-class hotel and be well fed! The support and backing we get from the office is also fantastic. The work the office puts in to providing a comprehension tour manual is much appreciated.

What has been your favourite tour moment and why?

I have a few favourite moments! One which stands out was the private tour of the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. We were booked in after closing time. The group assembled and we were greeted by the Yeoman Warder, resplendent in his bright red uniform. He gave an amusing introduction to the tower and then walked us across the courtyard to where the crown jewels were housed. For me it was just tremendous to be walking on the cobblestones where so many historical figures trod as they were led to the gallows! And to be the only visitors there was magical. Usually, the place is swamped with tourists and it was eerily quiet. Once inside, we were greeted by a guide who took us to see the jewels – champagne and canapes were enjoyed before seeing the most dazzling array of tiaras and crowns. Without any other visitors, my group was able to take their time and enjoy the visit without being rushed.

What does travel mean to you?

Travel allows you to broaden the mind and experience life outside of your own environment. I'm a bit of a foodie and I enjoy pottering around local markets and trying different types of food and drink. In Peru I sampled Alpaca meat and Guinea Pig. I also enjoy the cultural side of travelling – seeing the pyramids, Taj Mahal, being able to walk though museums and see the artwork in reality rather than in a glossy magazine. Enjoying La Traviata in La Scala, Milan was a wonderful experience. 

Aerial view of Machu Picchu ruins, Peru
Red and white train passing over rail viaduct

Travel also allows you to experience different modes of transport – the glacier express train in Switzerland, tuk tuks in Sri Lanka, gondolas in Venice, hot air ballooning over the Outback. We don’t have many tuk tuks in England and this adds to the enjoyment of being away from home and experiencing something new.

What destination is 'calling' you?
I am unsure where I shall travel to next as Covid is still ruling the way in which we live our lives. Privately, I'm thinking about going to Greece and spending a few nights in Athens and then just seeing where I end up. I don’t know Greece very well and the history and culture appeals. I also like Greek salads and ouzo! In terms of work, I hope to be showing clients around the UK, as soon as possible. And, hopefully Switzerland will be back on the cards. I have a trip provisionally booked in October 2021 to Australia with guests from the UK.