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Staff Stories: the most useful travel items, according to tour managers

We chat to eight of our tour managers about the most useful, life-saving items to pack in your suitcase for your next holiday.

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We're proud to offer holidays with a difference. We only partner with tour managers with a true connection with travel, who are experts in their field. From lush Costa Rica to the wilderness of Kenya, our tour managers have not only gained a wealth of local knowledge and incredible travel stories, but they have also picked up a thing or two about what to include in your suitcase before that big trip.

Whether you're hoping to be all set for a staycation, or prepared to explore Canada's picturesque mountains and lakes, our tour managers will help you prepare for your next dream holiday. Here's what they never set off without:

Bonface: a safari journal

Nairobi-based Bonface has been managing tours with us since late 2018, leading Kenya safaris, including Kenya Grand Safari and Kenya Beach & Safari. When he leads his guests on safari, he always ensures he packs his trusty safari journal. "In this, I write guests’ recommendations and requests (perhaps they want to purchase camera batteries or visit a pharmacy along the way). This means I’m always ready to perform any act of kindness that will make the guests feel welcomed, appreciated, and comfortable," Bonface said.

Simone: a good read

Simone has been with Newmarket Holidays since 2013, a year that marked the start of her career as a tour manager. She is now based in Knoxville, Tennessee and Merida, Mexico. She has led most of our United States and Canada tours, including our Elvis Presley's Memphis, New Orleans & Nashville holiday.

Prior to becoming a tour manager, she worked as an actress, a small business owner, and a travel and roadshow coordinator for a corporate firm. The experienced traveller never sets off on tour without the basics. "I never travel without a good read and my crossword puzzle book. It relaxes me on the plane and keeps my mind alert and agile," Simone said.

Jeff: a camera to capture it all

Ottawa-based Jeff has led our Canada tours since the early 2000s, becoming a customer-favourite on holidays such as Canadian RockiesAlaska Cruise and The Canadian Rockies, and Niagara Falls to the Rockies. When he travels through Canada's most stunning natural scenery, he keeps it simple. He recommends that if you only have room for one extra thing, make sure it's a camera!

Carmel: a cuppa

Carmel has been working in the travel industry for close to 30 years. She has guided many of our Ireland tours, including Galway, Connemara & Ireland's Stunning West and Dublin and Ireland's Ancient East. When she heads out on tour, she knows what matters: the weather and keeping cosy. "For Ireland, an umbrella. For everywhere else in the world? TEA BAGS," Carmel said.

Oscar: the trusty gadget

Oscar resides in the capital of Costa Rica, San José. For upwards of four years, he has guided our tours through his beautiful home country. He makes sure he never leaves home without one trusty gadget: his mobile phone.

Anthony: a wake-up call

After a long career in hospitality, from being a hotel hospitality manager to teaching students tourism, Croydon-based Anthony became a tour manager in 2011. He's been managing tours with us for a decade now. During a tour, Anthony likes to make sure he wakes up on time, and keeps entertained in all the hours in between. "My alarm clock and Kindle," Anthony said.

Julie: the practical tools

Julie is a seasoned tour guide, having spent an impressive 15 years leading United States tours with us. She has expertly led our customers through some of the nation's most exciting destinations, including CaliforniaLas VegasSan FranciscoTexasNew Orleans, and New England. With such a long time in the biz, Julie knows exactly what makes for a successful holiday. As such, she keeps her must-pack travel items practical. "Kettle. Zip ties. Duct tape," Julie said when asked about her top three items to put in her suitcase.

Carol: the little things

For three decades, Cheshire-based Carol has been a tour manager (and a cruise director during that time, too!). She manages our U.K. tours, including Scenic North Wales and Chester and Liverpool Beatles and Merseyside. While covering so much land and different environments on tour, the tour manager likes to make sure she feels fresh, packing some travel-sized basics. "Mini-sized moisture cream, toothpaste, and deodorant," Carol said.

Read more about the people who make Newmarket Holidays tours different, at our new tour managers page.

Serena is a writer based in London. Born in Malaysia and raised in Australia, she calls the UK home despite only recently acclimatising to the dearth of sunshine. Her writing has appeared in The Independent, Business Insider, South China Morning Post, i-D, Refinery29, Glamour, Vox, Metro, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and Cosmopolitan. She has also published a book of aerial photography: How Women See The World. Throughout her decade-long career, Serena has told the stories of Arctic explorers, human rights activists, award-winning chefs, refugees, and the UK’s last lighthouse keepers.

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