We chatted with Nadine Paulo, tour manager with Collette, earlier this month about all things Collette, travel, and what you can expect when taking a guided tour. Consider one of the tripcentral.ca Collette tours for a travel package, European vacation packages, Canadian vacation packages, and more. With over 160 tours in all 7 continents, Collette tours range from the famous rivers of Europe to the jungles of South and Central America, and beyond. Travel with Collette and experience the world with one of the most experienced tour companies. We let Nadine tell us more about why we should consider Collette:
Tell us a little about yourself, Nadine.
I have been working for Collette for three years, but I grew up around the tourism industry. I currently operate Collette tours in Canada, Spain, Portugal, Azores, Madeira, and New England and am also the regional destination manager for Collette’s Canadian product.
What makes Collette different from other tour companies?
Collette is the oldest international tour operator in the United States, and we are family-owned. I like to say that Collette tours have a lot of attention to detail: we care about our guests on a different level than a company owned by investors. As a company, we focus on the guest experience as a whole and not just delivering the itinerary of the trip. From the minute you leave your doorstep to the minute you land back at home, we make sure all of the details are taken care of.
What are some of the most popular Collette itineraries this year?
I believe Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland are selling very well. Canada sells well also, particularly when the oil prices went up causing airfare to increase. We’re seeing a lot of North American tourists staying closer to home because flights are less expensive than going to Europe. Portugal has increased in sales as well and it’s currently leading in one of the best countries to visit because it’s the best bang for your buck when travelling in Europe.
What do you recommend for someone looking for a slower paced tour?
I would say our more exotic tours and/or our North America tours are a little slower paced with more natural elements rather than cobblestone city tours with higher activity. With tours like The Islands of New England or The Best of Eastern Canada, the focus is more on nature, scenic landscapes, and free time to thoroughly enjoy the areas, rather than the hustle of European tours.
What tips do you have for a first-time tour traveller?
You are crazy not to book with us! But really, an escorted tour takes all the worry and trouble out of vacationing. You can place your faith in Collette that we have done our research and taken care of all the odds and ends compared with doing individual travel. We take care of things you wouldn’t necessarily think about, like paying attention to travel warnings. Collette tours also offer the opportunity to meet so many different people that you wouldn’t while travelling alone. We generally have groups of between 18 and 40 people, so it really allows people to become good friends and future travel partners.
What advice do you have for someone taking a tour?
Be open-minded: there are such varied personalities on tours. The keyword in tourism is flexibility. Even though you might be travelling on an itinerary you purchased, there are many things that can affect it, and having an open and flexible mindset will ensure you enjoy your destination no matter the circumstances.
What’s your favourite thing about your job with Collette, and the worst part of the job?
Well of course, we get to experience new places and new destinations but really, the most satisfying part of my job is seeing a guest’s face when they step foot onto glaciers for the first time or walk into the Mosque of Cordoba where 10,000 worshippers once gathered during the Muslim rule in Spain. Just seeing those reactions to witnessing and experiencing history: it is really satisfying for me. The worst part of my job? The jetlag. There’s really nothing to cure it. That, and the laundry when I come home.
What’s your favourite Collette tour?
For history, the Spain’s Classics tour is my favourite. The history there dates back before Christ and the interaction and co-existence between religions that existed there is amazing. In terms of nature, Portugal and Its Islands is high on my list…the Azorean Islands are untouched by tourism and it is more of an exotic tour with a quaint atmosphere and inclusive of beautiful reflective turquoise lakes, black sand beaches, and beautiful plantations. You can lose track of time there.
And what’s next on your travel-to list? I want to explore more of Canada and the US by car or coach. I go to all of these beautiful cities around the world, but sometimes we forget how beautiful our own backyard is and how much history lies here, so that is definitely in my plans.
8 things we learned about Nadine and Collette:
How many tours per year do you do? Sixteen 2-week tours
What is always in your suitcase? An adapter and charger, toothpaste and toothbrush, extra batteries. The worst is being in an exciting spot and wanting the perfect picture and having your camera die.
Favourite place you’ve ever visited? San Miguel, an island in the Azores
Most exotic food you’ve tried? A variety of seaweed and octopus on the Amalfi coast
Most adventurous activity you’ve done? I white water rafted 32-miles in Costa Rica. You think level 4 on paper is fine but then when you’re doing it, it’s a different story.
Describe travel in three words: Inspirational, eye-opening, invigorating
Something you can’t travel without: Connection to home, whether that’s an iPad or iPhone.
Favourite photo you’ve taken: Maligne Lake in the Rockies. It’s turquoise and that’s my favourite colour. I could just sit there for days admiring it.