The team at Aspire Down Under are a lively bunch - travel is not just what we do for a profession, we live and breath to travel! An eclectic group originating from Australia, UK and the US we regularly travel to our destinations to ensure our destination knowledge is first hand and we are able to road test the hotels, transfers, tours & attractions. Aspire Down Under solely specializes in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tahiti, Cook Islands & Papua New Guinea and we love nothing better than sharing our in-depth knowledge with clients and customizing the perfect vacation that meets your interests & budget.

 

Joanne

350x200_joanne.jpg
350x200_joanne1.jpg
350x200_joanne2.jpg

Hometown
Manchester, England, United Kingdom

My first memory of travel
Going to Blackpool, a seaside town in the UK. We used to play Spot the Tower in the car as then you knew you were close. Loved the Pleasure Beach with all the rides, candy floss and good old fish and chips.

My first trip abroad
I was 12 and a few families went to Sorrento, Italy. It was my first time on a plane and I remember being amazed as we climbed through the dark clouds to clear blue sky. We went to Rome for the day and even at a young age, it left such an impression on me; the people, the Colosseum and the Catacombs. Being a soccer nut, the real highlight was our very first night, wanting to watch the World Cup Final. The manager of the hotel invited us to watch it in the kitchen with the staff. They won, Italy beat West Germany and within minutes, there were horns, cars, flags, singing …. brilliant stuff and nothing you’d have seen in the UK back then.

Recent trips
Papua New Guinea, France, Italy, Australia, Brazil, Barbados, French Polynesia, Cook Islands, New Zealand, Fiji, Barbados, England.

My favorite place to travel
Probably Australia because it’s the country I’m the most familiar with (outside of home). It’s so diverse and a two-week trip can feel like you’ve visited 2 or 3 countries. The Aussies are super friendly and have a wicked sense of humor. However, one of the best places I have visited is Sri Lanka. That was my first trip outside of Europe and it blew me away, really opened my eyes to how different and wonderful the world is.

My dream vacation
Anywhere it feels like I’m a million miles away from where I’ve come from and leave feeling like I’ve learned something. I’d love to explore Central/South America more and spend time driving around Europe.

My ultimate survival bag for international flights includes
Water, headphones, toothbrush/toothpaste/mouthwash and a good moisturizer.

My travel tips to make a long flight seem not quite as long
I’m not a great sleeper on flights in general but instead of dreading all those hours on a plane, I try to think of the positives; I can have a glass (or 2) of wine, watch a good movie and let myself get tired naturally instead of trying to force myself to sleep.

My favorite destination we sell
That’s a tough one. Matangi in Fiji is up there. Such a lovely ambience and beautiful surroundings and I love the Fijian people, so warm and welcoming. Lizard Island is another; stepping off the beach and being right there amongst the Great Barrier Reef is pretty fantastic. Abel Tasman National Park at the top of the South Island, NZ.

My best travel advice
Trust the experts. We do this for a living and have firsthand experience of all the products which means we are able to match your personality and travel style to hotels and tours. ALWAYS take travel insurance and always do a little homework on the country you’re going to visit.

If I weren't in the travel industry, I would be busy making a living doing
Something to do with football (soccer), volunteer work overseas.

I fell in love with travel
The day I boarded that plane to Italy in 1982!

What I love most about my job
Recommending something I know my clients will love even if they don’t know that yet.

My happy place
Home in Manchester with my family.

My favorite travel companion
Someone easy going, flexible and funny.

I'd love to take a trip with
My brother to a Manchester City European away game. We never qualified when I lived at home when it would have been possible as a day or overnight trip.

What I do when I'm not at work
Watch my beloved Manchester City, take Salsa lessons, spend time with friends. I love my own company too so putting my earphones in, cranking up the music and going for a long walk is something that makes me happy.

Email me for Australia, NZ, Fiji, Tahiti, Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea

 

 

Shelley

350x200_shelley_bm.jpg

Hometown
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Currently Reside
Elgin, Illinois, USA

My first memory of travel
Wow, I must have been about five and we were heading to the Snowy Mountains down in New South Wales for winter Ski Holidays. My brother and I were collected straight from school for our four hour car ride down to Mount Kosciusko. Well as we arrived, which was well into the late hours of the night, we needed chains to get up the last part of the mountain. Dad did not have any with him. There were several cars trying to get up the hill and kept sliding back down. So then it was our turn, after numerous times “MY DAD THE HERO” made it up the last hill to the resort and all of us tucked into bed for the night. The actual skiing part went about the same for me for my first time down the mountain. However, I ended up becoming a great skier and have skied all around the world.

My first trip abroad
Fiji is a favorite destination for Australians during Winter Holidays. We used to travel to Fiji quite often. On my first trip to Fiji, we went on the Blue Lagoon Cruise. I remember swimming in the same caves that BROOKE SHIELDS did when she made the movie Blue Lagoon. The Fijians are some of the friendliest people in the world, and this was my first introduction to island life. I have traveled to Fiji well over 50 times since I first visited.

Recent trips
This is hard as I do love to travel and travel quite often abroad. My most recent trip has been to Dublin and London, and just prior to this I did a road trip to South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore and the Badlands. America has some wonderful areas to see and I have around three states left to visit. In my other travels I have visited every continent other than South America and hopefully will get to visit sooner than later.

My favorite place to travel
Well I think I’m spoiled as I grew up in Australia and now live in the USA, and I think these are probably the two best countries in the world. I do get to travel back to Australia to visit family yearly, so I would say my next favorite country would be Italy. I just love the countryside, food, wine of course the laid back feeling, which is similar to OZ.

My dream vacation
This is hard, I still have a lot of places I would like to visit. I think I would definitely like to See Rio in Brazil and Machu Picchu in Peru. I would also love to see the Northern Lights in Iceland and spend a night in the Ice Hotel. I never got to see them when I was in Scandinavia as it was the wrong time of year.

My ultimate survival bag for international flights includes
Chocolate, I love to just have this as it melts my time away on the plane while watching the videos. I can’t seem to sleep on planes no matter how many tricks people tell me. So Chocolate is my vice. Of course a toothbrush is essential, you feel nearly human after cleaning your teeth. Also a pair of socks you can throw away. I always wear them into the bathrooms as you know how dirty they become after a long flight.

My travel tips to make a long flight seem not quite as long
It’s all mind over matter. Once the doors shut on the plane you have to deal with the long flight. So just “don’t sweat it.” I always have the meals on board, I ask them to wake me if asleep. This way your body is getting used to the new time zone. I always drink lots of water so as not to get dehydrated and I do take quite a few walks throughout the flight, about every two hours. You have full access to movies, music and of course these days you can use your own computers and iPads.

My favorite destination we sell
Tasmania, a lot of people forget this little Australian island, however it is fantastic with great food, wine, lots of Australian History and beautiful scenery. It’s very laid back and you can see all of the Australian wildlife including the Tasmanian Devil.

My best travel advice
Don’t panic, as this will ruin your holiday. Always take out travel insurance as this will give you peace of mind if something beyond your control happens.

If I weren't in the travel industry, I would be busy making a living doing
I have my Real Estate License so would look into doing this full time. I also used to coach tennis in Australia so would love to get back into this part time.

I fell in love with travel
I was originally a social worker in Australia, then decided to take three months off and travel to Europe. Well those three months turned into four years of working/traveling throughout Europe and the UK. So when I finally returned to Australia, I wanted to tell everyone about what to see and do when going to Europe. So the start of my travel consultant days. This is my passion making vacations turn into reality.

What I love most about my job
Hearing that they really enjoyed visiting my home country and wish they had longer. I quite often hear “Shelley - when we book the next trip please make sure we see all the places we missed this trip.”

My happy place
Castaway Island – Fiji

My favorite travel companion
A good book. But seriously, I have to say my husband. He is so used to flight delays etc, he just has a “go with the flow” attitude which is great.

I'd love to take a trip with
My son and my nephew. They both are big soccer and tennis players. As I am a tennis player as well, would love to go with them to the four major tennis tournaments and the World Cup soccer.

What I do when I'm not at work
I’m a soccer Mom, my son is in MDL league and we travel all over the country. I also play high level tennis in NITTL Chicago league.

Email me for Australia, NZ, Fiji and Cook Islands

 

 

Shelby

350x200_Shelby.jpg
350x200_Shelby1.jpg
350x200_Shelby2.jpg

Hometown
Baltimore, Maryland, USA

My first memory of travel
I have so many family trip memories. We did a lot of cruises and beach getaways.

My first trip abroad
I went to Jamaica, Mexico, etc at a young age but it was the trip abroad to Japan that had the biggest impact on me.

Recent trips
In the past two years I have been to Australia, Fiji, South Africa, Tahiti, Iceland and lots of domestic travel.

My favorite place to travel
Australia! Having lived in Sydney, I truly think it’s one of the most amazing countries. My favorite thing about the destination is the diversity of landscapes. You have cities, mountains, beaches (that's just in Sydney), wine, wildlife, culture and more!

My dream vacation
This is a tough one! I am heading to South America soon and I know China is on my upcoming list. If I want to go somewhere, I find a way to get there. So I guess my dream vacation would be a trip around the world!

My ultimate survival accessory for international flights includes
A large pashmina/scarf! This is perfect to keep you warm, bundle up as an extra pillow, and just have throughout the trip.

My travel tips to make a long flight seem not quite as long
SLEEP! This helps pass the time. But I also recommend getting up and moving about the cabin to keep the blood flowing.

My favorite destination we sell
Sydney - because I am slightly biased. I also love Queenstown, New Zealand, the Mamanuca Islands in Fiji, and Bora Bora in French Polynesia.

My best travel advice
Try new things - it's ok to get out of your comfort zone a bit.

If I weren't in the travel industry, I would be busy making a living doing
Dance/fitness. I grew up as a dancer and pursued the career in Sydney after college. Now, I am a fitness instructor at a boutique studio in Manhattan. I am so lucky to be doing the two things I love as my jobs.

I fell in love with travel
I would say that I was bit by the travel bug in Japan. I had studied Japanese language and culture so I was fascinated to see all the things I had been learning in the classroom applied in real life – it really opened by eyes to experience the world.

What I love most about my job
Sharing my experiences and insight with clients to make their once in a lifetime trip possible. I also love working with honeymoon couples. This is such a special trip for them and it's important for them to pick a place they both have never been to, to start new memories together.

My happy place
With my husband and puppy, traveling.

My favorite travel companion
My husband. We met while travelling and it’s something we both love to do.

What I do when I'm not at work
When I'm not in the office, I am most likely taking workout classes or teaching. I love seeing my friends and enjoying the waterfront. However, if not during the week day, I am usually travelling to a new destination. I also write a blog about travelling and the different experiences you can do in each destinations to keep active. Follow me: @TravelFitLove or TravelFitLove

Email me for Australia, NZ, Fiji and Tahiti

 

Kerrie

350x200_Kerrie.jpg
350x200_KF1.jpg
350x200_KF2.jpg

Hometown
Sydney, NSW, Australia

My first memory of travel
When I was about 12 years old, my family took a holiday to New Zealand. My parents, my brother, my sister and I spent about 2-3 week traveling all over both North and South Islands and as a kid, it was so amazing. We went up north to the beaches in the Bay of Islands and went walking all over Franz Josef Glacier. This was back in the days when you didn’t have to take a helicopter to the top and you could just start walking up the glacier without a guide. It’s amazing to see how much the country has changed over the last few decades.

My first trip abroad
This would have been my family trip to New Zealand. Aside from that, when I was about 19 I lived in Las Vegas for six months or so – just to see what it was all about. I went on and lived in Jamaica for a while in my early 20’s. I couldn’t work – but I got to just hang out and live the life in the Caribbean for a while. It was incredible.

Recent trips
Adelaide, Alice Springs, Uluru. Also took my kids up to Tropical North Queensland and a visit to the Great Barrier Reef. While in the area, we also did a Grub’s Trike Tour where you have a driver and two can sit on the back of the trike. We went ziplining in the rainforest, hugged a koala and had an amazing lunch at Silky Oaks Lodge. All are some of my favorite things to do when in this part of Australia.

My favorite place to travel
For me, it’s Japan. I love everything about it. The people, the culture, the sushi, the food – I don’t get too crazy with the food, but when I’m there I can’t get enough sushi. I actually lived in Japan for two years when working for an Australian dance company and traveled all over from Sendai to Fukushima to Kominato.

My dream vacation
I can’t think of just one – I just want to travel the world! As much as I’ve traveled, I really haven’t seen much of Europe. I’ve done England, Portugal and a Mediterranean cruise, but I’ve never done Paris, Rome or any of the other typical European places.

My ultimate survival bag for international flights includes
Socks, and compression socks are even better to prevent your feet from getting swollen while in the air for such a long time. I always pack a book – but I never open the front page. I’ll just watch movies to pass the time. Face moisturizer is always a good thing to have on hand.

My travel tips to make a long flight seem not quite as long
Watch movies and sleep when you can. The wine doesn’t hurt either.

My favorite destination we sell
Australia – the entire country. It’s such a beautiful country, it’s my homeland and there are so many special unique experiences. Personally, I love the Tiwi islands just off the top end of Darwin. You take a small plane out of Darwin and over the strait to do a day trip to the islands. It’s such a great experience.

My best travel advice
Pack lightly. You’re on the go a lot and the last thing you want is to be dragging around a ton of luggage. Also, embrace the differences along the way! Keep an open mind and enjoy your time in a new land, it will enhance the experience for sure.

If I weren't in the travel industry, I would be busy making a living doing
I don’t know! I can’t even imagine doing anything other than travel. If I had to choose, I would most likely be doing something either working with children or something with health and fitness.

I fell in love with travel
I’ve always loved travel for as long as I can remember. The more places I visited, the more I realized there’s even more out there in the world to see. Travel really opens your eyes to how massive this world is and how much there is out there to explore.

What I love most about my job
I love knowing that a client’s trip is going to exceed their expectations and be even more amazing than they realize when they depart. I love giving them the unique experiences or a trip that they wouldn’t be able to do themselves.

My happy place
The beach – any beach! I particularly love some of the amazing beaches we have in Australia, but I just love being on the sand and near the ocean.

My favorite travel companion
Anyone who is low key and laid back traveler.

I'd love to take a trip with
Anyone who likes to have fun!

What I do when I'm not at work
If I’m not at work, I try to get to the gym or go to Zumba. I try to get out to take my little dog for a walk every day. The rest of the time busy being mom taxi!

Email me for Australia and New Zealand

 

 

Megan

350x200_MeganAYQ1.jpg
350x200_MeganAYQ2.jpg
350x200_megan2.jpg

Hometown
Swansea, New South Wales, Australia

Currently Reside
Perth, Western Australia, Australia

My first memory of travel
Growing up in a small coastal Australian town, our typical family vacation would consist of camping, or maybe driving to visit relatives. One year my parents surprised us with trip to The Gold Coast. It took us two days driving in each direction. Plane travel just wasn't as common then. We stayed in a fancy hotel with an elevator and went to all the usual theme parks – Dreamworld, SeaWorld & Grundys. I have great memories of this first "big" trip.

My first trip abroad
In high school I travelled to Japan as part of a student exchange. I remember being so excited to finally travel on a plane AND we were lucky enough to get upgraded to Business Class! I thought that this was standard for Airplane travel and fell in love with travel immediately. You can imagine my shock on the return flight when we were herded to the back of the plane. I stayed with a lovely Japanese family in a traditional home, eating unique foods and learning about a new culture. It was all very surreal and a real eye opener for a young girl who had never left the Aussie shores.

Recent trips
Sydney, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Uluru, Bali, Tasmania, Rottnest Island, Margaret River, New York City.

My favorite place to travel
Anywhere warm and tropical where I can read a book and drink a cocktail.

My ultimate survival bag for international flights includes
Chapstick, eye drops, face wipes, moisturizer, sleeping tablets, eye mask, shawl/pashmina, iPad, toothbrush/toothpaste and breath mints.

My travel tips to make a long flight seem not quite as long
A good book, movies and a glass or wine or three.

My favorite destination we sell
Tough one – I've always had a soft spot for Fiji. Once you get out to the islands, it is truly paradise. The locals are so genuinely friendly and always greet you with a smile and "Bula" (Fijian for hello and several other meanings, similar to Aloha in Hawaii).

I fell in love with travel
It's almost a rite of passage for Aussie kids to spend some time travelling after they graduate. I think we are just so far away from everything, we feel the need to take off at some point to see what else is "up there.” My "working holiday" was supposed to be a two year UK and Europe trip. 20 years later, including a 15 year stint in America, I finally settled back in Australia. I think as soon as I got a taste of travel, there was just no going back.

My best travel advice
Mix it up. Try different experiences – 5 star luxury and basic camping in national parks. Balance your holiday – busy, fast paced, intense days and rest days at leisure. Do a little research in advance and try to know a little about the destination you are visiting.

What I love most about my job
Learning a little about the client and trying to put myself in their mind to plan a trip I feel they would enjoy. I also really enjoy when a client does return and gets in touch to let me know what an amazing time they had.

My happy place
Home with my family.

My favorite travel companion
Someone who is fun, with a good sense of humor, up for anything and willing to try new things – but also happy to do their own thing from time to time.

What I do when I'm not at work
Taxi my kids around! School, sports, play dates, repeat. I also recently started up tap dancing again. It's a good workout I enjoy!

Email me for Australia, NZ and Fiji

 

 

 

Maureen

350x200_maureen.jpg
350x200_maureen1.jpg
350x200_maureen3.jpg

Hometown
London, England, United Kingdom

My first memory of travel
I visited my grandparents every summer, I remember packing my suitcase before school was out so I could be ready when the day came. It wasn’t far to travel but the idea of packing a suitcase and the excitement of travel was what I remember.

My first trip abroad
It was a girls trip to Barcelona, Spain. We explored, shopped and had unlimited amounts of seafood and paellas – it was a wonderful trip.

Recent trips
Costa Rica, Mexico, Iceland, Croatia, Germany, Netherlands, France, Dubai, Thailand and Italy.

My favorite place to travel
London and Kenya as I have family there and it’s always great to see them – both of these places hold great memories.

My dream vacation
Bali has been on my MUST visit list for a while now and I cannot wait to unplug and relax.

My ultimate survival bag for international flights includes
Headphones, iPad loaded with games and some good magazines.

My travel tips to make a long flight seem not quite as long
I can get pretty restless on long flights, so if anyone has great tips please let me know.

My favorite destination we sell
New Zealand. Even though I haven’t been to this country yet, it strikes me as somewhere I will fall in love with immediately. My colleagues always say “it’s about the journey and not the destination” and I cannot wait to start my journey.

My best travel advice
Don’t sweat the little things as they can put you in a bad mood and can ruin your vacation. Some things are completely out of your control.

If I weren't in the travel industry, I would be busy making a living doing
Volunteering in different locations around the world and giving my time to people who need it most.

I fell in love with travel
When I returned from the most amazing safari in Kenya staying at luxury lodges, I saw the Big Five and it was out of this world.

What I love most about my job
Seeing clients excited about their trips.

My happy place
Loitoktok, Kenya

My favorite travel companion
My husband - He's easy going, loves to relax and we have great fun together. I'd love to take a trip with Barack & Michelle Obama, somewhere relaxing so we would have plenty of time to speak and debate. What I do when I'm not at work I enjoy working out, going for morning runs in Prospect Park in Brooklyn and meeting up with friends whenever possible.

Email me

 

 

Sharon

350x200_sharon.jpg

Hometown
Preston, United Kingdom

My first memory of travel
"Staycations" at a very popular holiday camp "Butlins" in the UK

My first trip abroad
Traveling to Mallorca at age 15 - Viva Espana!

Recent trips
Australia on a family vacation - we visited Sydney, Ayers Rock, Alice Springs, Port Douglas, Green Island, Hayman Island, Hamilton Island & Melbourne.

My favorite place to travel
Without a doubt Australia, my passion started in 1994 with my first trip down under which subsequently led me to moving there to live for a year as part of a working holiday visa. Australia is known as the "happy country" and the outdoor lifestyle, dramatic landscapes and friendly people are something to behold.

My ultimate survival bag for international flights includes
My kindle, support socks & lots of water.

My travel tips to make a long flight seem not quite as long
Be sure to book all your flights on one ticket - that way you get the best connections, mimumum down time and are completely protected if something goes wrong. We often have situations where tickets were purchased separate to each other to save on costs but ultimately any small saving was not worth it due to the additional time wasted and stress that can be added. Always arrive at the airport early so you are relaxed and checked in. Once on the plane take advantage of the entertainment systems to pass the time quickly - the choice on our premier airlines is amazing. If you can stretch to premium economy or business class you wont regret it - these classes give you more chance of a good sleep allowing you to feel more refreshed on arrival.

My favorite destination we sell
There are so many favorites but if I have to pick one I'll choose Queensland - the options are limitless and really getting to the crux if a client is looking for an Island or mainland stay, what type of Great Barrier Reef experience or time in the Daintree Rainforest is really satisfying as there are so many options and these are the types of situations detailed destination knowledge shines through. Snorkeling or diving on the Great Barrier Reef is a bucket list trip for most of our clients and the reality is never disappointing.

I fell in love with travel
As a sagittarius I naturally love to travel and have done independently from a young age - I cannot imagine a life without discovering new destinations & traveling regularly.

My best travel advice
Like most things in life you can probably do it yourself but would you get the best result? Absolutely not. We are often asked how the travel industry is for agencies such as ourselves as many people assume everything is booked online these days, destination specialists are bucking this trend - just because you can book a hotel or flight online doesn't mean you will book the best option, its far better to consult with an agent who knows the country intimately, has road tested the hotels, airlines and tours and can make recommendations based on your interests and budget. When you are traveling to the other side of the world using your precious vacation time & spending a considerable amount of money you want to ensure you get the absolute best trip ever!

What I love most about my job
Hearing from a client when they have just returned from their trip - I love to hear all feedback and how the trip was the best honeymoon they could have wished for or the best family vacation.

My happy place
On the beach

My favorite travel companion
My husband & 3 kids

What I do when I'm not at work
Cheer my kids on at sports, Pilates, Yoga, catch up with friends

Email me for Australia, NZ, Fiji, Tahiti, Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea

 

 

Phil

350x200_Phil1.jpg

Hometown
London, England, United Kingdom

My first memory of travel
Boarding a plane, wow...

My first trip abroad
Corfu, Greece. The sun, water and beaches, what more could you ask for as a child. Although I don't remember enough sun cream and I do remember the sunburn...

Recent trips
Australia and Mexico. Taking my sons on many "first" adventures such as scuba diving, quad bike off road safari and ziplining.

My favorite place to travel
Australia has so many iconic places to enjoy but the North West is truly outstanding. Sleeping in a swag (outback sleeping bag) around a campfire with the Southern stars overhead and the outline of the Bungle Bungles as a backdrop is an unforgettable experience. However overall New Zealand would have to be number one, the country has everything. The landscape and scenery change dramatically in a short period, just pick up a rental car and hit the road. My favorite area would be the rugged west coast of the South Island where all the elements of nature are on display. Only one road, north and south, no need for a GPS here...

My ultimate survival bag for international flights includes
A good audiobook, oh and a sleeping pill is a good idea. The South Pacific airlines do a wonderful job of making the flight an enjoyable experience.

My travel tips to make a long flight seem not quite as long
So many people are stressed at airports. It always baffles me how people try to jump the line to board a plane, the plane isn't going anywhere....once on board just relax and enjoy. And trust me the feeling when you land down under early in the morning after that long flight is thoroughly worth it.

My favorite destination we sell
Tough to select just one .... Kangaroo Island has everything. The wildlife (think wallabies, goannas, koalas, kangaroos, echidnas, dolphins, sea lions, penguins, fur seals, eagles, whales and ospreys, just to name a few), the windswept coastline and the unique history of the island make it a "must see" inclusion on any Australia itinerary.

I fell in love with travel
Travel broadens the mind and senses, I could not imagine not wanting to travel

My best travel advice
Get expert advice, you can travel anywhere but there is an art to traveling well. Also if you are celebrating a "landmark" birthday you wish you weren't, travel down under the day before your birthday, you cross the date line and arrive the following morning and amazingly that 40th birthday disappeared....

What I love most about my job
The look of relief on people's faces when they know Aspire Down Under can remedy the burden of over information both online and offline. Australia, New Zealand and the islands offer so much, we enjoy guiding people to the right places at the right time to do the things they enjoy.

My happy place
Outdoors on a beautiful day

My favorite travel companion
My family

What I do when I'm not at work
Anything active, life's too short to sit around.

Email me for Australia, NZ, Fiji, Tahiti, Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea