Our Gracious Tour Leaders are on our solo travel tours to serve as a 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 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 the world with others. For the first 10 years, she led ALL solo travel tours 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 our 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. (Read more in her President’s Letter.) “At the end of trips, it is music to my ears when I get to hear – “Suzy, this solo Vacation exceeded my wildest expectations!”
Carol has been on 30+ AFS trips over the years and has led many of our solo travel tours. 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 Janice was an early AFSer and has traveled with Suzy since almost the beginning. She has visited more than 96 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 17 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 6 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 go on a solo travel tour with!
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 solo travel tours. 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!”
I must state everyone loves Christie and we are delighted she’s joined our GTL tribe! Meet Christie…After being widowed, five years ago, I decided to dip my toes into the waters of international travel. My first trip was to Africa with AFS! I was hooked. Five continents, over 50 countries and 19 AFS trips later, I’m still seeking adventure. From Mongolia to Patagonia, Papua New Guinea to Mozambique, awesome memories have been created. I love meeting the local people, and making new friends on my trips. Why did I wait so long to travel?
My four grown children and I live in sunny Florida. I am originally from Long Island, NY but moved to Florida in my twenties. I am a retired, special education teacher. But now I am more active than ever with free time to embrace new joys. I sang with a local band for over 15 years. Volunteering with mentally disabled adults and also at a Safe House for foster children fills my heart and my days. My mission is to share patience, kindness and laughter everywhere I go. I’m ready for the next adventure.
Based in Atlanta, making her way around the globe with over 60 countries visited…mostly solo until finding out about AFS in 2017. With degrees in Photography and Graphic Design from SCAD, she enjoys helping others capture and create interesting posts for Social Media that your friends are sure to envy. Also, with a background in IT/Communications, she is able to help solve any tech issues you may have with your devices or apps. She enjoys a healthy active lifestyle of working out, skiing, snorkeling and hiking. Always researching and learning…she has been studying and speaking French for the past 8 years and will be sure to have at least 2-3 new Travel Hacks and tips for you each trip!
Deanna is a seasoned traveler who will be leading our Mongolia and India trips soon. She will be a great asset to AFS, not just because of her capable skills in leadership and her wisdom, but it’s her joyous enthusiasm in guiding others in exploration!
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 solo travel tours over the years. With a passion for nature and unique culture is, she chooses and has led some of our most exciting adventures – (Kilimanjaro, Mt Everest base camp and Galapagos to name a few.)
I call her “gadget girl” because she always comes equipped with the coolest new travel items – pocket-sized washing machine and video recording sunglasses. She video-recording 6 continents, 60+ countries, all 50 states, and countless islands! Her preferences are international destinations with action and a focus on nature. But she’s thrilled to fly you 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.
GTL Eileen Viau has been traveling for business for over 15 years and with AFS doing solo travel tours for over 8 years. The thrill and excitement of each adventure entice her to explore new destinations. With her unbridled passion for travel and deep love for exploration, she’s visited 33 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. Our groups love her beautiful smile and sense of humor that makes traveling with her 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 of 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.