Our Gracious Trip Leaders are on a trip to serve as an liaison between the local staff and the AFS group. They are there as an escort and not a guide. Nationally licensed guides will be with you for all tours and they can answer all questions concerning the destination. Our GTLs have been selected because they have been in a dozen plus AFS trips and share our vision of having large fun!
As a former flight attendant of 14 years with free travel, Suzy has logged over 100 different countries in her 6 tattered passports. She founded AFS in 1989 to share these places with others. For the first 10 years, she led ALL trips, but now leads four or five each year. Her favorite group leads are to places outside the boundaries of normal comfort zones where one wouldn’t travel alone because she loves all the challenges. As a cultural ambassador, Suzy is fearless and loves to connect her groups with locals. Her enthusiasm, travel wisdom and patience are extraordinary.
She says, “I deeply care that my tribe blends well and that each member is having Large Fun. My head is always churning with intuitive preemptive thoughts, and communicating these to are local guides. I make sure there is downtime for relaxation and provide suggestions for activities outside our itinerary.”
Suzy is a former Miss Wisconsin and teacher with a passion for Travel Writing. In her free time, she does site inspections and travel shows abroad for future trip ideas. At home, she loves cooking foreign dishes and loving on her dog Gracie. (Read more in her President’s Letter .) “At the end of trips, it is music to my ears when I get hear – “Suzy, this Vacation exceeded my wildest expectations!”
Carol has been on 20+ AFS trips over the years and has led many of our groups of single travelers. She has been a ray of sunlight to each of those groups. She has a passion for seeing the world and experiencing new cultures. Having traveled to over 92+ countries and all 7 continents, she continues to pursue her dream, while working for the past 25 years in the banking industry. Her goal is to build relationships, problem solve, and keep clients happy. She genuinely cares for people and is cool under pressure. These are great qualities for the business and the travel world.
During a recent sabbatical, Carol coordinated and lead a once in a lifetime journey around the world, visiting 13 countries! Carol’s excitement to discover new things is complimented by her unique ability to get along with and relate to people of all backgrounds. She has a deep understanding of new and seasoned travelers with a knack to inspire all. Carol is all about the experience: from skydiving to trekking with the gorillas in Rwanda, leading a group to climb Mt Kilimanjaro and always making many new friends along the way.
Your GTL is Margo who has been on 28 AFS trips in 54 countries on 6 continents! She understands our vision well. You’ll be in such good hands with her. Our past groups loved her warmth and her enthusiasm is contagious. Margo’s goal as she leads trips is to create a travel family bond. A bond that consists of helping your fellow travel mates, respecting each other and encouraging each other over any bumps in the travel road.
We don’t have enough words here to fill you in on Margo, you just have to meet her. Everyone enjoys her effervescent spirit. She exudes the motto “kindness begets kindness” and everyone loves traveling with her. As a former school teacher, her leadership allows you sit back and fully enjoy your travels. She loves to create games for our groups to bond in endless laughter. Margo lives in Maui Hawaii. You might find Margo walking on the beach or the country roads, in the kitchen baking- desserts are her specialty and being outside surrounded by nature.
Her favorite quote-
“Traveling- It leaves you speechless and then turns you into a story teller,”- Anthony Bourdain
Your GTL Janice was an early AFSer and has traveled with Suzy since almost the beginning. She has visited more than 80 countries and all 7 continents both on her own and in her job as a writer and television producer! She has actually been to Antarctica TWICE – once with the legendary Jacques Cousteau and a second time with Prince Albert of Monaco. Imagine that. While she currently works mostly with ABC News, she spent 20 years with CNN, reporting news across the globe.
A prolific writer, Janice has written 14 books on travel and history. She also has an independent production company called J-Mac Productions which has afforded her the opportunity to do independent documentaries as well as producing marketing, training and commercial materials. She has won numerous awards including two Emmys and three Edward R. Murrows for her work.
No words can describe her professionalism and bubbly personality. Janice consistently remains upbeat even when things don’t go as planned and is simply Large Fun to travel with.
Salanda has decades of experience in the travel industry and has worked over 12 years as a travel consultant for one of the world’s largest management companies! She has been on dozens of AFS trips over the years. With a passion for a nature and unique culture is, she chooses and has led some of our most exciting (Kilimanjaro, Mt Everest base camp and Galapagos to name a few.)
I call her “gadget girl” because she always comes equipped with the coolest than latest travel items. I’ve never seen before such as (pocket-size washing machine and video recording sunglasses.) She has traveled to 6 continents, 60+ countries, all 50 states and countless islands! Her preferences are international destinations (think gorilla trekking Uganda/Rwanda/Congo), places off the tourist tried to pass but thrilled to fly anywhere. We received many emails praising her excellent performance and attention to detail. Salanda has never met a stranger in this friendly to all. Everyone will appreciate her leadership and astute leadership skills.
Gracious Trip Leader Eileen Viau gas been traveling for business for over 15 years and with AFS for over 8 years. The thrill and excitement of each adventure entices her to explore new destinations. With her unbridled passion for travel and deep love for exploration she’s visited 22 countries so far. Now retired from MetLife after 24 years, she’s free to escape anywhere.
One of the best qualities of Eileen is the way she interacts with people and our groups love her. It’s her beautiful smile and sense of humor that makes traveling with her so stress free. We discovered Eileen’s a natural born leader and welcomes any challenges. She is always is looking for the positive should there be any hiccups along the way. Eileen gets to know each member in her AFS tribe and makes sure all have a good time.
Eileen has 2 grown children she raised by herself, and 2 granddaughters who are the love of her life. When not traveling, she resides in Florida spending her time playing at the beach and visiting family. Her motto – The Best Things in Life are the People You Meet, the Places You’ve Seen, & the Memories Along the Way.
Terry is our partner, business manager, techie-guru, cabana boy and chief bottle washer. He handles the day to day business operations behind the scenes at AFS. (FYI: He’s also married to the boss who he met on an AFS safari in 2003 and together since, they make a great team.)
With a degree in communications, Terry has an extensive background in marketing, working as a rep for a large media company for 20 years. AFS benefits greatly with his astute computer skills and Terry’s enjoyed the benefits of extensive travel over 6 continents. His favorite lead wed on our Uganda gorilla trek.
We need him in the office, but he often assists with our larger groups. They enjoy his outgoing personality and his endless witty sense of humor. Terry’s travel motto, “We need to adjust our sails when we can’t control the wind. Don’t worry about any bumps in the road. Enjoy the journey!”