How long as Great Explorations been in business and who owns the company?
Great Explorations was founded in 1996 and is owned by Robbin McKinney. Robbin has been leading trips in Europe and around the world since 1985, including 15 years with Butterfield & Robinson. Many of the other companies offering this style of travel are now part of large corporations which means there may be more of an emphasis on the bottom line (which may be why they charge so much). Our mission is to provide exceptional travel experiences and to inspire people to travel actively.
How can I reach Great Explorations?
You can reach Great Explorations by phone (604.730.1247), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), in person (102-1529 West 6th Avenue if in Vancouver, BC) or by video chat if you prefer – we like meeting face to face and talking travel.
What is the Great Explorations difference?
Here are 10 things that differentiate Great Explorations from other travel companies:
- We have been designing and leading cycling and walking tours since 1983 – our founder and ‘guiding light’ has lead more trips in more places for longer than anyone on the planet. That doesn’t mean we are better but it means we have experience and we think you’ll benefit from this.
- We operate all of our own trips. We design the routes, own our bikes, print your materials and operate the trips. You’ll never deal with a middle-man with Great Explorations.
Thoughtful Trip Design
- We spend a great deal of time creating and updating our routes to ensure guests are on the quietest, most scenic roads and trails we can find. We don’t simply ‘link hotels’ and we don’t depend on outdated guide books and second-hand information. Each of our trips is thoroughly researched, planned and tested, by us, for you. The only surprises will be good ones.
- Our maximum trip size is 16 travelers; our typical number is between 8-12. Most other companies take up to 26.
- Many of our guides are local and have either lived or traveled in the region extensively. Having been guides ourselves for over 35 years, we are confident that we have the best guides in the world. Meet a few of them here.
Multiple Daily Routes
- We provide multiple daily route suggestions to ensure you have options for different abilities and ambitions. We provide GPS, route instructions, and our custom maps with elevation profiles that have earned us a reputation for having the best in the industry.
- As with everything else on a Great Explorations tour, you can trust all our accommodation choices – from luxurious chateaux and unique hotels to casual inns, we tested and rested in them all.
Bicycles & Equipment
- We have and continue to invest heavily to ensure you have the best bicycle for your trip. Our relationship with Cannondale Bicycles and other manufacturers has allowed us to offer top-of-the-line bikes (including Quick Speed 1&2 hybrids, & Supersix 5 carbon bikes). We have the largest number of bike and equipment depots in Europe of any tour operator (saving us, and you, the expense of criss-crossing Europe delivering bikes).
- From cooking courses to wine tastings, tours with local experts, music performances are just some of the extras that are often included on tours.
- Finally (and perhaps the reason we have experienced remarkable growth over the years), we encourage you to compare trip prices, hotels and what is included and you will see that Great Explorations offers unsurpassed value.
What do your trip prices include?
- All lodgings
- Typically, all breakfasts, most lunches, including our amazing picnics, and all dinners except for one, when you’ll have the opportunity to sample local fare on your own
- Expertise and services of our experienced Trip Leaders
- Snacks and beverages between meals
- Additional guides and experts from the region on many trips
- Van shuttles to support a variety of route options
- Comprehensive Trip Planner with detailed pre-trip information
- Private guided tours at museums, historic sites, wineries and other select attractions as noted in the itinerary
- All gratuities at hotels and restaurants
- Special events, including wine tastings and other select attractions
- Park and other entry fees
- Baggage transfers and porterage
- Great Explorations water bottle
- Welcome and final night wine reception
How fit do I need to be to enjoy my trip?
Our trips are designed to accommodate various fitness levels. If you are reasonably fit, you’ll obviously enjoy these types of trips more. For cycling trips, getting out on your bike before traveling will help and we send you suggestions to help you train if you wish. Our Travel Advisors can help you choose a trip that is suitable for you.
How do you accommodate people of varying abilities?
On most days of your trip, you’ll have a choice of multiple options. Each day, the guides describe the options and you choose based on how you feel that day. One day you might go for the most challenging. The next day, you may take it easy by choosing the shortest route, leaving more time for relaxation, exploration or mingling with the locals. You and your fellow travelers may spread out over several miles or you may choose to ride or walk together. For your peace of mind, one leader covers the route in a Great Explorations support van, ready to offer assistance, refreshments or a lift back if you’re done for the day.
Our trips attract people of varying abilities so there’s typically someone else traveling at your speed. This is ideal for friends and couples with different paces; they can spend the day with similarly fit travelers and then reunite for the evenings.
Do I have to carry my own luggage or gear?
No. On a Great Explorations trip, the support van carries the luggage. Our hybrid bikes have handlebar bags that you can carry personal items that you want with you on your bike, or you can leave a day-bag in the van with an extra layer, or jacket etc. Those on racing bikes typically carry what they need in jersey pockets (phone, light jacket).
Who travels with Great Explorations?
We appeal to travelers of all ages and a healthy mix of single, couples and friends. Approximately half of travelers on any trip are likely to have traveled with us before and usually at least a quarter come from being recommended by a friend. Our travelers seem to like to have more fun than others we see on the road! [Full disclosure – our founder guided 18 years for the company that invented luxury cycling and walking trips in Europe and the reason for starting Great Explorations was to appeal to a clientele that was younger in spirit, a little more adventurous, and perhaps a little more easy-going].
What is a single supplement?
Our prices are based on two people sharing a room. For solo travelers who require a single room, we have to charge a single supplement for this.