As part of our Meet your Travel Director series, Content Producer Rachel Gee has been catching up with Insight Vacations Travel Directors to get the lowdown on their role and what inspired them to get into the industry.
For the first in the series, she spoke to Sara Tuppen Veloso who has been working with the company since 2016 and has recently lead trips in Portugal and Spain.
“My father was an avid traveler in his youth and worked in tourism before immigrating to Canada from the UK. I grew up enchanted by his travel stories”, Sara tells me.
In her teens Sara had the opportunity to study abroad in Germany, something she says kickstarted her love for languages, culture, history and travel. She studied in Germany, Japan, Italy, Greece and Quebec, traveling extensively between her studies. Following university she began work as a translator but sitting in an office didn’t appeal and her urge to explore the world grew. She took a role at Insight Vacations’ sister brand, Contiki before eventually working for Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold.
“The best part of my job is helping our guests enjoy the travel experience of a lifetime. The effects of travel continue long after a trip has ended, and I love knowing that the work I do can benefit people in many ways”, Sara explains.
Sara also benefits from the interaction:
“The role allows me to continually learn and research. I am able to build unforgettable experiences and leave inspiring ear-to-ear smiles”.
The trip that leaves Sara herself with the biggest smile is The Best of Spain and Portugal, which she says offers an outstanding itinerary with its varied experiences.
She tells me an included lunch in the mountains of Southern Spain is a particular favorite among guests. Once here they visit an olive oil factory, walk through a small white-washed town and are welcomed into local homes where they are provided a traditional homemade meal by the locals.
“And the fact the trip is 15 days long gives guests the time to get to know each other”, she adds.
Sara’s favourite optional experience is a guided excursion of Toledo, the former capital of Spain and situated close to Madrid. She says guests can contrast old and new Spain as they travel from the current metropolitan centre to this ancient city.
“Walking through the historic centre with our Local Expert, guests can appreciate the architecture and local culture, with a focus on traditional handicrafts and the city’s most famous artistic resident, El Greco”.
Sara has plenty of tips to give me during our discussion, including some of her travel favorites to prep me for my next trip to Spain or Portugal:
- Favorite city: Porto, Portugal
- Favorite food: Paella
- Favorite drink: Portuguese coffee.
- Favorite place to take guests for food: Evora, the gastronomic capital of Portugal.
- Favorite scenic drive: Through the Douro Valley. The drive offers spectacular views of mountains, river valleys, vineyards and winery estate homes