As part of a new feature, we asked our Facebook followers to submit their burning travel questions to Explore’s Managing Director, John Telfer. As a prolific traveller, John has visited more than 110 countries and has been working at Explore for over 30 years, so there is nobody better placed to share travel tips, knowledge and advice.
If you have a question about Explore that you’ve always wanted to know the answer to, follow us on Facebook or Twitter and use the hashtag #askexplore – for the chance that your question will be answered next time.
Jan Yekalb wants to know: I have booked my next adventure with you to Northern India. I am a vegan traveller in Northern India - will I be okay / have plenty of food choices?
John: "Hi Yan, you’ve chosen a great place to go for Vegan food! Not only tasty but a decent choice of what to eat too. Although it is easy to find at the majority of places it could be tricky if you were travelling independently. Fortunately your Explore leader will be at hand to help - although locals will almost always understand the difference between vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, vegan food need a bit more explanation. Have a fabulous time in North
India with us!"
Julie H. Ferguson asked: How do you choose hotels? Personal visit? Phone interview? How?
John: "Hi Julie – first of all it’s a balance of comfort, price and location (and not ideally being part of an international chain). In terms of the final selection process there’s not one answer to this as it is normally a mixture of a couple of sources. Nothing beats seeing a hotel yourself, and whenever we travel overseas we check hotels (and alternatives). As we all know standards change over time so it’s important to keep up-to-date. We also rely on our local agents to help – some have been with us for over 30 years so they know us inside out. Nowadays we have the hotel names on our trip notes for all our trips as this is information our customers would want – we also keep up to date by checking websites - Expedia, Trip Advisor or Booking.com for example."
Sylvia Vickers asks: I am vegetarian now and have usually managed wherever I go in the world. Is there any country that you would not recommend? That would be difficult? I would image it is even more difficult for vegans #askexplore
John: "Hi Sylvia, as you say you can always manage, but there are a number of countries where as a vegetarian the cuisine will not be the highlight! A couple of places come to mind – Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan – I’ve just come back from there and I always keep an eye out for the veggie options. Pretty much most meals revolve around meat, normally mutton, beef or chicken be it in a stew or as a kebab. That leaves you with the old fall back of omelettes with the usual cucumber, tomato and onion salads. Having said that the options in the larger towns has improved massively in recent years. For the adventurous there’s the dried salty yoghurt balls!! As for vegans, well… let's just say the choices are limited!"
Jo Deiters wants to know - what are you best trips for Singles?
John: "Hi Jo, a simple answer would be pretty much all of them if you are looking to travel with other singles – as 40% of all our customers are travelling singly. If you are willing to share a room with someone of the same sex there is no charge – you pay the twin share price. Interestingly the most popular countries are Sri Lanka, Jordan, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Ukraine, Costa Rica, Burma and Japan – and if you are looking at value, popular options include “Discover Chernobyl” in Ukraine and “Jordan Discovery”. On some trips nearly all solo travellers choose to pay extra for a single room; these include “Land of the Golden Fleece” in Armenia and Georgia or “Highlights of Vietnam and Cambodia”. On some trips, like the “Greek Island Cruise” or “Maldive Dhoni Cruise”, single room options aren’t possible because of the limited number of cabins on the boat. Hope this helps!"