ATAS ACCREDITED AGENTS share their best trips of 2019

December 17, 2019

If you’re a regular reader of the ATAS blog, 2019 may have taken you on journeys to wonderful places near and far, to festivalssporting events, and on road trips. You may have read articles that whisked you to especially romantic destinations, to islands and into the clouds by hot air balloon, and to places where Easter and Christmas are celebrated in wonderful ways.

ATAS accredited travel professional Sandi McConnell’s Rothenburg Christmas. Credit: Sandi McConnell.

ATAS articles may also have taken you glamping and to theme parks, to exciting cities and places that are at their best in winter, even to Greenland and Madagascar. And our travel agent contributors have served up their top tips for family holidays, for travelling at peak season, how to deal with lost luggage and, of course, the tangible benefits of planning and booking your travel with an ATAS accredited travel agent.

 Image: Spencer Travel Southside’s Jess Minton and family in Fiji. Credit: Jess Minton.

So, as another year draws to a close, we thought we’d reflect on that lap around the Sun by asking a pair of Australia’s top travel professionals about the best journeys or places they visited themselves took in 2019.
For battlefields travel specialist and published historian, Mat McLachlan—founder of ATAS accredited NSW-based Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours, the stand-out experience took him underground—not undercover, literally under ground and into the caves of Naours in the Somme region in Hauts-de-France in northern France.

“This is one of the most fascinating places on the Western Front, with an incredible underground caves system graffitied with messages from World War One soldiers,” says Mat.

 Image: The Underground City of Naours. Credit: Mat McLachlan.

People have been visiting the Underground City of Naours for centuries. In fact, the first Australian soldiers to arrive in France in World War 1 came to Naours as tourists in July 1916—their visits organised as a means of distraction for soldiers on leave or convalescing behind the front lines. Many of those early tourists left their mark with graffiti on the walls of the immense underground galleries dug into the local limestone.

The Underground City is the type of place best visited with an expert guide. As Mat suggests, “There is no better way to visit these caves than on a tour led by an expert historian who can share stories of the history of the caves and the Anzacs who visited them.”

An ATAS accredited travel company like Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours can help you plan and book the perfect travel experiences to suit your interests, budget and travel style.

2019 also took Emma Sullivan, Travel Advisor at ATAS accredited Weston Cruise & Travel in Canberra, who took advantage of Qatar Airways’ direct international services from Canberra to Doha and beyond, to head to Europe—specifically to Croatia for a driving holiday.

 Images courtesy of Emma Sullivan.

“We did a self-drive from Dubrovnik up to Zagreb including a stay on a wonderful island along the way. Croatia was simply amazing,” notes Emma. Even though this was primarily a self-drive holiday, it was the sparkling waters and islands of Croatia’s Adriatic coast that really took her breath away.

Images courtesy of Emma Sullivan.

“The colour of the water is absolutely phenomenal. Don’t miss cruising through the islands of Croatia, so make sure you book a cruise for at least 7 days,” she advises.

But the country’ charms don’t stop at the shoreline. As Emma puts it, “Every centimetre of the country is just stunning. Plus, there’s so much history and culture to learn about. I just loved it,” she enthuses before adding a few more tips for anyone considering a trip to Croatia.

 Images courtesy of Emma Sullivan.

“Staying in old town Dubrovnik is an absolute must. When all the tourists go home from their day of exploring, it is a beautiful town full of lovely narrow streets and laneways that brim with wonderful restaurants and bars,” says Emma.

She also recommends exploring the Plitvice National Park in the mountainous karst area of central Croatia, near the border to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The park is famous for its system of 16 picturesque lakes connected by rushing cascades. The lakes are renowned for their range of distinctive colours from turquoise to mint green, grey or blue.

 Images courtesy of Emma Sullivan.

“Don’t miss the Plitvice National Park. The stunning 2-3 hour walk with beautiful waterfalls and scenery is not something you’ll forget in a hurry,” says Emma.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, Emma’s email signature lists Croatia as her favourite of the 40 countries she has visited.

Whether you’re planning a quick weekend away with your nearest and dearest, or a multi-generational special occasion chat to your favourite ATAS-accredited travel agent – experience you can trust.

Looking for more insights from ATAS-accredited travel agents? Try these on for size: Is a White Christmas the right Christmas for you?Family holidays that won’t send you (or the kids) around the bend; and A world of festivals in 2020

Don’t miss our information for travellers, for tips and advice on what to do before you depart on your holiday.

ATAS travel agents recommend that Australia passport holders register for travel alerts before they travel.


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