Lauren Higbee is a true jet-setter, having visited a new country each year for most of her life. In 2014, she took her first-ever escorted tour, the 13 Day Essential Turkey, with her retired parents.
Seeing it all
Lauren opted for a tour in order to see as much of the country as possible.”For me especially, Turkey was a long-awaited dream trip and I wanted to see as much as we could in the two weeks we were there,” Lauren told Pink Pangaea. “The highlight for us was exploring new places that we probably wouldn’t have discovered on our own…we loved was the hot springs at Pamukkale, a gorgeous UNESCO site.”
Escorted tours ensure that you see the highlights of every destination, but our itineraries also include plenty of room to explore. “Gate 1 did a nice job of balancing scheduled activities with free time (time that you could use to explore on your own or book optional activities),” Higbee explains. “This worked well for us as it allowed us to customize our trip according to our interests.”
Some might worry that an escorted tour leaves little time to interact with locals, but Lauren found the opposite to be true. Gate 1 offered “a lunch [that] they scheduled with local families in a small village,” Lauren says. “Our guide was a local Turkish woman who was very knowledgeable about the history of Turkey and the cities we were visiting. Her expert advice was invaluable in understanding what we were seeing and forming our own connections to the place.”
Lauren and her parents also visited a primary school near Konya that is supported by the Gate 1 Foundation. “Thanks to the Gate 1 sponsorship, the school had just finished building a cafeteria and we got to meet some of the children. I was really impressed that they took the time to show us how tourism can make difference in every day lives,” Higbee notes.
“I can’t think of anything particularly disappointing about the tour, aside from perhaps wanting it to be longer!”
Read the whole interview here, or start planning your trip to the land of whirling dervishes, ice-cream acrobats and underground cities.