Jetting off to the places you’ve always dreamed about is an eye-opening adventure—just ask Go Ahead travelers Jerry and Frances, who just returned from their fourth Go Ahead tour. They’ve seen stunning landscapes, met welcoming locals and followed alongside expert Tour Directors, discovering a new worldview along the way. Here, Jerry shares some of his tips and memories from their journeys, and tells us what they’re looking forward to next.
What inspired you to start traveling with Go Ahead?
My wife, Frances, and I were always waiting to have the time and resources to see the world. So, when we retired, we promised ourselves we would pursue our love for travel. We expressed this desire to a close friend, Mary, who has traveled extensively and is now a Group Coordinator with Go Ahead. She was planning a trip to Alaska and asked us to join her group. We didn’t know anything about Go Ahead at the time, but she’s pretty savvy about tour companies, and we trusted her recommendation. We’re so glad we did!
What are some of the benefits of traveling on a guided tour?
The Tour Directors! A Tour Director can make or break a tour and Go Ahead consistently has some of the very best. They share a vast amount of information that brings each destination to life and look out for your safety and well-being. Their first priority is to ensure that you have an amazing experience and they make it happen. Go Ahead also provides impressive local guides who impart very special insights and specific knowledge about each city. The Tour Directors and local guides have demanding jobs and they do them well. You don’t have to worry about language barriers, fear getting lost or stress about compliance with local laws or customs—your safety is always paramount.
One example of a great Tour Director moment sticks out to me. When Frances and I departed from tour in Alaska, we had an earlier flight than the rest of our group. But, our departure was easy because our Tour Director, Phil, took care of us until we were safely on our way home. He met us in the hotel lobby at 4am and had a cab waiting. He even pulled out money to cover our breakfast costs. We will never forget such professional and caring overtures.
After traveling on four tours, can you share some of your favorite things about each place?
Every place my wife and I visited was amazing, and all of our journeys have been full of special moments and unforgettable sights. We’ve made so many wonderful memories! Here’s what made each stop so impressive.
Denali National Park & Wild Alaska
Alaska was our first destination, and it was larger than life! The scenery was amazing and Go Ahead made sure we experienced things close-up. We sailed right past glaciers on a ship, traveled by train through the vast wilderness and drove deep into Denali National Park where we were able to see the animals…close up! We saw Mount McKinley in the distance without cloud interference and witnessed glaciers breaking off and thundering into the waters below.
Highlights of England, Scotland & Ireland
The United Kingdom was our second destination. There, Frances and I were able to connect with our family’s roots. I was able to visit a spot near where my ancestor sailed for the New World and I could feel an eerie connection with the area. We also experienced the grand churches and castles so prevalent in Europe, and I really enjoyed seeing Buckingham Palace. Frances kissed the Blarney Stone…I was chicken! But, I got to cross Abbey Road in London at the same spot where the Beatles crossed. Go Ahead made sure we saw it all.
Iceland: Reykjavik & the Golden Circle
We visited Iceland on our third tour—what a surprising treat! I fully expected to see a hobbit cross the road as we bumped along scenic trails. The Blue Lagoon was a unique experience and I was so impressed by the country’s huge waterfalls, glaciers, geysers, geothermal baths and other-worldly South Coast. It’s filled with indescribable scenery. You have to see this place to understand its grandeur!
Paris: The City Experience
We just returned from Paris, which was a bucket list trip for us. I grew up watching movies featuring Parisian culture and sights, and I love the city’s ambiance—it’s truly a festival for all the senses. Once we arrived, we were immediately taken by the wide boulevards and parklands, street-side cafes, beautiful squares, elegant fountains and commemorative sculptures. Each day we made our way deeper into the city to find the pearls we had always seen in pictures and movies. The Moulin Rouge, Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame Cathedral are only a few of the many landmarks that we were privileged to admire.
Your next tour will be to Australia & New Zealand. What drew you to these destinations?
Frances and I have always had our sights set on these places because they’re somewhat different. It’s getting to experience the diverse cultures and admire magnificent scenery that make traveling Down Under so appealing. I’ve always wanted to see iconic sites such as the Sydney Opera House and the Outback, so I’m looking forward to that.
How do you prepare for your tours?
I go to sites such as YouTube and Vimeo and look up videos about the destinations I’ll be visiting. I like to watch the ones that offer suggestions about things to see or avoid, which allows me to get a feel for a place before I head out. Plus, I call a Go Ahead Tour Consultant to hear the latest updates and get my questions answered. They are very helpful.
How has travel impacted you?
All my life I’ve read about different places and formed images in my mind as to how they might look and what the culture might be like. Now that I’ve seen some of the world and interacted with locals, I know more about the reality of these countries. I’m more open-minded and I feel a closer kinship.
Any advice for those embarking on their first Go Ahead tour?
Get excited! Feel free to call with any questions you have and you’ll get friendly, prompt answers. Don’t worry about the small stuff; you are in good hands. Get ready to meet some nice people, many of whom might become life-long friends. You have worked hard for the opportunity to enjoy new adventures. Rest assured, Go Ahead will make sure you have a fabulous time.
Do you have any favorite travel stories or tips to share? Tell us in the comments below!