046[1]Karen Honeysett is a GTO working in the skiing resort of Chamonix in France. She currently greets groups arriving at Geneva airport and drives them to their hotels in Chamonix. Karen is using all her time off to improve her skiing and snowboarding. She was also one of the ‘Games Maker’ volunteers for the London 2012 Olympics.

The best group trip you have ever been on:
A three week trip to South Africa in 2004 – a group of ten of us went over from the UK to volunteer in a home for babies who had been abandoned, primarily because their parent(s) were too ill with AIDS/HIV to cope. We helped care for the babies as well as doing practical tasks around the home. We got to see a bit of the local area around Johannesburg including Soweto, as well as doing an overnight safari. I loved it so much I went back for two months the following year!

And the worst?
A trip to the Yorkshire Dales is usually a wonderful experience, but on one particular break we had a gas leak at our self-catering holiday cottage. We went out for the day leaving a workman to fix it, but returned to find there had been an explosion and the windows and doors had blown out. The plus side was two free nights in a country hotel that we otherwise couldn’t afford!

What’s your favourite UK destination for a group day out?
It’s a bit clichéd, but London always has a lot to offer. Brunch in Covent Garden listening to the live music, a walk or Duck Tour along the Thames, a tour round the Houses of Parliament, exploring one of the parks, catching a show at the theatre – there is something for all tastes. For somewhere more rural, the Lake District is my favourite place. A walk up Catbells gives amazing views over Derwentwater, and is easily accessible for any standard of fitness in your group.

Having a tour round the Houses of Parliament

Having a tour round the Houses of Parliament

What makes a good group trip?
I’ve found the best group trips I’ve done are where all the basic details such as transport, food and accommodation are worked out beforehand so you don’t waste valuable exploring time. I’ve also found it best when the itinerary of activities is flexible enough to allow for spontaneous changes if something exciting turns up.

What do you always pack?
If I’m travelling in the UK I’ll take a bit of food for the first night – I’ve been caught out a few times when arriving very late somewhere and all shops and restaurants are shut. If I’m going abroard, I always pack Marmite and teabags. I’m pretty sure Lipton tea isn’t actually tea…

And what do you leave out?

Getting out and about in the Yorkshire Dales

Getting out and about in the Yorkshire Dales

I have forgotten pyjamas, toothpaste or deodorant on so many occasions that these are now at the top of my list whenever I go anywhere. I deliberately leave out anything work related, and very rarely check emails when on a non-work trip. It’s good to have a break from routine and responsibilities.

What was your favourite trip last year?
Am I allowed two?! In the UK, it was a long weekend in a beach hut on the north Somerset coast. Waking up to the sound of the sea, walks along the sand and cream teas in the village – lovely!
Further afield, it was staying in a cabin by a lake in the Adirondack Mountains, New York. Highlights included cooking dinner each night on the campfire and bear spotting at dusk (sometimes a bit too close for comfort!).