Erwin Verhagen is our Tour Leader in the spotlight for May. He's been leading tours for Explore for two and a half years and has worked across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
Staff in the office describe Erwin as a Tour Leader "who always receives excellent feedback from his passengers, who works hard, is easy-going and gets the best out of everybody and every situation."
His ability as a Tour Leader is so highly regarded by Explore staff that he has recently been asked to train newly recruited Tour Leaders on the road to show them how it's done!
Here's what Erwin had to say about his life as a Tour Leader when we had a chat with him recently...
"Well, life as a tourleader.......Explore tells us on our training that this is the greatest job in the world, and well, yes, really, that is true! Sure, there are some disadvantages, minor stuff like living out of your suitcase and your mental sanity (!), but that is little to give up for a life of seeing the most beautiful places on earth (more than once!) and experiencing new cultures, while travelling with a great bunch of people. On top of that, hey... it is never too late to find a proper job, right?"
If you were given a free plane ticket to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
This list does get longer and longer while I travel but if I must chose, it will have to be Turkey, as it is the 'missing link' between the Greek/Roman sites and the Middle East, where I enjoyed working a lot.
Boss, why do you not send me there for a long contract?
What’s the best thing about life on the road as a tour leader?
Being able to meet great people while travelling and seeing all sites/regions more than once, so you get to see them in different seasons and conditions.
Have you got any packing tips for a travelling life?
Do not overpack, most stuff can be bought locally, sometimes cheaper and usually better suited to the environment!
What do you never leave home without?
Books! Perfect for long waiting times and hanging around in airports.
On tour what has made you stop in your tracks and go “Wow!”?
Many things but the Northern Lights in Norway were far more amazing than I ever expected.
What’s your top tip for travelling responsibly?
Try to leave your own upbringing, values and culture behind, as much as this is possible, and start seeing the country from a clean slate, unprejudged.
If you had to eat just one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Easy one; worstenbroodjes with curry!
If you had the chance to start a new country with your own rules, what would be your first rule?
Probably that everyone should accept that I am usually right in most cases, generally speaking.
What was your funniest moment as a tour leader?
Again many, many moments but had some great laughs and giggles recently doing a scrambling walk through a narrow gorge with quite some puddles to cross in Wadi Muthlim, Petra. Most of us got quite wet, shoes must have smelled great in the morning!