Tell us about you:
We live in Portland, Oregon, where I, Deb, work as a physician and Jeff is retired after a career in the bioscience industry. I'm originally from the Boston area and Jeff is from southern California. We love traveling to off-the-beaten-path locations where we can have what we'd call "civilized adventures." A fully supported trek framed by stays at luxurious hotels while we're in towns is our cup of travel; a trip where independence and being up to the challenge are needed, but where you know someone's got your back in case something goes sideways.
How do you like to travel?
We've both done our share of independent, budget travel in the past, mostly in the US and Europe—a style of travel that we loved in that stage of our lives. In more recent years, though, we've taken to traveling on small-group adventures with what I guess I'd call higher-end adventure travel companies. We have trekked in Peru twice (getting to Machu Picchu two different ways), and done hikes in Patagonia, the Everest circuit in Nepal, the Laya/Gasa trek in Bhutan, hill tribe treks in Thailand, and the Tour du Mont Blanc in Europe; we have kayaked in Baja with whales; and most recently cruised in the Galápagos.
When we are out of the country, it is so nice to travel with a company who's set everything up for us; we can spend our time seeing the sights and not worrying about how we'll get to the next place or what happens if there's a train strike or something. I also always tell my friends you learn SO much more from the guides on these trips than you ever would from the Lonely Planet book you brought with you. More locally, we are still more self-sufficient travelers, hiking and backpacking in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, and last year doing a driving trip of the national parks in the Southwest punctuated by hiking and photography stops everywhere imaginable. Jeff is also a big motorcycle traveler, and recently purchased a BMW motorcycle fit to take the both of us on some motorcycle/photography expeditions in our area.
What was your experience in the Galápagos?
The trip was fantastic. The ship was luxurious, the staff quite amicable and helpful, and the guides top-notch. The food, the rooms with huge windows, the amenities (hot tub, bar, espresso machine!) were all amazing. The itinerary was diverse, with a new animal or behavior noted at every stop. Highlights for me were snorkeling with sea lions and sharks, and seeing animals every day that don't exist anywhere else! GeoEx also set up our hotels in Quito, transfers everywhere (with personal attention to the point of making sure we were in the right lines in the airports; EVERYTHING was taken care of), and tours of our choosing, with the right balance of downtime, too.
How much time did you save time by working with GeoEx instead of planning the trip yourself?
Decades! No seriously, a lot! I do like to "geek out" online and over travel books making plans for trips, so I do end up spending a lot of time ahead of the trip—probably more than most people, but still a lot less when working with you than if I'd done it all myself. When it comes down to it, the most valuable time saved is while you're on the trip itself. Having traveled independently to enough places, even just in the US or Europe or what I'd call culturally navigable places, I know how much time you can waste hanging out all morning in a train station trying to figure out where you're going, when instead you could be touring an amazing church or museum and then later get delivered to the right spot at the right time to continue your travels with no worries.