Ann Marie, Tour Advisor, gives us an insight to travel
Ann Marie is part of the Tour Advisor team at Budget School & Group Tours. We catch up with Ann Marie to learn a little more about her and all things travel.
What did you study in college and when did you realise you wanted a career in travel?
I studied hotel and catering management in college and got to meet people from all over the world in the hotel industry. This gave me the travel bug and I spent two years working and travelling around Australia and Asia. When I came back from my two years of travel abroad I decided I wanted a career in travel. I started work as a Tour Co-ordinator for school groups and after five years I moved into my current sales position as a Tour Advisor.
What aspects do you find most satisfying about your job?
I really like researching a new destination and putting together an interesting itinerary for a group. At the same time, it’s great working on a destination I’ve been to before as I know the group will have a great time
What are you top three tips for a successful tour?
1. Book as early as possible. It’ll give you the best chance of visiting the attractions you want to see as demand can be huge in popular destinations.
2. Pool your checked in bags. If you need to check in a bag this can add considerably to your tour price. You could consider pooling a bag between two or three people. That way you can still travel with all your toiletries but at a much cheaper price.
3. Consider flying a day or two before the school term holidays. Flight prices jump when schools are closed, so getting away that day or two before the break can make a huge difference on the tour price.
What holiday destinations have you enjoyed most?
Without a doubt, my favourite country to visit is Vietnam. I’ve been there three times and will definitely go back. It is such a diverse country with a rich historical culture, amazing food and genuinely lovely people. From the Industrial Hanoi in the north to the sunkissed beaches of Hoi An in the centre and to the noisy chaotic streets of Ho Chi Minh there is definitely something for everyone in Vietnam.
Closer to home, I really love Barcelona. There is so much to see and do, from the street performers on Las Ramblas to the breathtaking views from Parc Guell and the Magic Fountains at Montjuic. And if you’re a football fan you have to visit Nou Camp. I caught a game there and it was amazing. The public transport system is great for getting around and you should definitely visit La Sagrada Familia and the Cathedral in the Gothic Quarter. The shopping in Barcelona is great and of course Spanish food is amazing!
What destination do you believe gives school groups the best all round experience?
I think Berlin is an amazing city for school groups to visit. The public transport system is so easy to get around, it eliminates the need for a coach which keeps costs down. There are a lot of very interesting free visits, The Reichstag, Topography of Terror, the Holocaust Memorial. Shopping is great on Kurfurstendamm and the Arkaden shopping centre in Potsdamer Platz has great bargains. A visit to Sachsenhausen can be difficult however it is an amazing experience and perhaps to end this day the group can enjoy a splash in My Tropical Island – an indoor waterpark just outside Berlin.
What’s the greatest scheme you’ve heard a student dream up while on tour?
There’s plenty I’m sure I don’t hear about, but there is one pretty enterprising scheme a group came up with in Switzerland. The boys realised the hotel’s vending machine accepted a €1 coin as if it was a 2CHF coin, which is a pretty nice exchange rate! Rather than stocking up on cheap Pringles and cans of Coke, the enterprising lot filled the machine with €1 coins and pressed the refund button, receiving Swiss Francs back. I often wonder what the mastermind behind that scheme is working at now!