Based in Devon

Karen Thornton

It's Nice To Meet You

My name is Karen and I want to thank you for visiting my page. I live in the beautiful West Country with my husband and 2 daughters, and I’m proud to be an independent Travel Counsellor who is ready and waiting to help with your travel plans.

While at school, I took part in work experience at a local travel agency and as a result of this I was offered my first travel job, aged 16. Now I find myself 30 years later and I still have the same passion and excitement as I did on my first day. The industry has changed dramatically throughout my career, but I still love it just the same; I can’t imagine doing anything else!

I have been lucky enough to travel extensively during my time as a travel consultant and honestly believe that travel really does broaden the mind. Most recently I have worked as a Caribbean, Maldives and Sri Lanka specialist, and have won awards and recognition throughout my career for my knowledge and commitment to my clients and their needs. Some fond memories I have include flying over the Grand Canyon for my 21st birthday, walking the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, hearing lions on safari from my tent in Kenya, kayaking the mangroves in Antigua, snorkelling in the Maldives and many more amazing experiences - all as part of my job!

As a truly independent travel consultant I am committed to helping you find your dream holiday, whether that’s a tailor-made multi-centre itinerary or a weekend break - whatever you are looking for just give me a call and let me take the stress out of planning for you. Your time is precious, so let me do the hard work for you!

I am available at times to suit you, so please get in touch and let me create your perfect trip!

I look forward to hearing from you soon, and remember, don’t forget your daydream!

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Contact Me

Whatever your holiday needs I'm here to help you, so simply give me a call or send me an email with your contact details on and I can get things started for you:

Find me on social

My Videos

Virgin Voyages

6/27/2021

Why not try an adults only Virgin cruise...? With some amazing itineraries in the Med or Caribbean, they've got something for everyone.

Why Travel Counsellors?

4/14/2021

Take a look at some travel memories...

Planning a honeymoon...?

3/31/2021

Take a look to see how I can help if you are planning a honeymoon - I am here to help!

Whenever the world opens up

2/5/2021

Take a look at some of the experiences I can arrange for you.

Iceland taster

12/1/2020

A sample of what is offered on the small group adventure tour - looks amazing! Get in touch if you would like to know more.

TC Experience Video

10/23/2020

Here is a snapshot of some of the experiences I can create for you.

Barbados Holiday

3/16/2020

Our holiday to Barbados

My Blog

I absolutely live and breathe travel and I love to write about my experiences! Please take a look through my posts - you might find your own holiday inspiration.

Honeymoon planning

14 April 2021

This blog is all about honeymoons, a very important trip as a couple! It’s vital to get it right, and this includes the initial planning stage. First, we need to consider the “time of year” which quite often gets overlooked when couples are in the throes of wedding planning. Summer weddings in the UK are often more popular than winter weddings, however if you have you heart set on your dream honeymoon destination then you have to consider what the weather would be like at that time of year too. As a rule of thumb, above the equator is the same season as us, below is opposite. Budget planning can often be delicate subject but one that is vitally important to discuss both with your partner and your travel agent. It is one of the first things I ask my honeymoon clients so I can not only tailor my suggestions to suit, but to avoid making suggestions that don't fit as this can lead to disappointment. A great benefit of booking with a Travel Counsellor is the option to take advantage of our Honeymoon Gift Registry. This is a scheme where if you already have everything you need, (who needs more plates?) you can ask your guests to contribute towards your honeymoon as a wedding gift. If this would be of interest, please do ask for further information - it's a great idea and works well! Honeymoon Perks Who doesn’t love a perk? Booking your honeymoon with me, I will take advantage of every single perk on offer to make your trip extra special. It’s not uncommon for Hotels and Tour Operators to offer perks to honeymoon couples, such as: Complimentary room upgrades Bride stays free offers Complimentary excursions Complimentary spa treatments Beach dining I will always liaise with the hotels before your arrival and I can also offer a personal consultation so you can both be involved in the planning from day 1. This can be arranged at a time to suit you both, at evenings and weekends if that's more convenient. Now down to some of my favourite recommendations: The Maldives These islands are an iconic honeymoon destination, so they seemed like the obvious place to start as they are the perfect place to relax, unwind and get away from it all. Prices and styles vary massively and can be endless so before you start to get lost in the many images of stunning turquoise water and white sugar sand beaches, I would recommend speaking to someone who can match something to your requirements before falling in love! It's also possible to twin the Maldives with other destinations so if you are worried 2 weeks on a desert island will be too quiet for you, we can add something else to the mix such as a stopover in the Middle East or even Sri Lanka. This is a great way to experience some culture and then chill out on the beach at the end of your trip - the perfect combination. Safari Have you dreamt of seeing the 'Big 5' as part of your honeymoon? If so, this could be the one for you. Safaris vary massively in terms of what you can see, where you can travel and when to go, so it's worth talking to an expert to ensure you get the right safari for you. Africa tends to offer sightings of the main Big 5 animals, but you can also vary things a bit and even safari in Sri Lanka to see more birds, elephants, sloth bears and leopard. Enjoying breakfast in the bush surrounded by zebra and buffalo and hearing lions from your tent at night really are amazing experiences I would highly recommend. Italy I absolutely love everything about Italy, the culture, food and people, and it’s probably one of the most romantic countries in the world so the perfect place to start your married life together! From romantic city breaks to the rolling hills of Tuscany and Umbria, or the stunning Lakes to the Neapolitan Riviera, it really does have it all. Easily reached from the UK it's the perfect place for a shorter stay so definitely worth considering. Caribbean There really is so much more to the Caribbean than just beach, and it's so important to match the right island to your requirements as they vary massively in what they offer. As a Caribbean specialist I've been lucky enough to visit many times and highlights for me have been Segway trips, catamarans, mountain climbing, jeep adventures and snorkelling to mention just a few. There's something about the charming locals, and the music too. Hearing a steel pan with a cocktail in hand on the beach is something everyone should experience once in their life. Mauritius For this relatively small tropical island located in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius certainly has so much to offer. Honeymooners are initially drawn to the island by the stunning beaches, but there’s a whole lot more to keep you busy for sure. The descendants of Europe, Africa, India and China make up the majority of the population and each group has made their mark on the island, which makes for amazing cuisine - it's a real melting pot of cultures and the locals are incredibly friendly. In terms of accommodation hotels offer excellent standards, but at the same time offer great value for money. Some of the hotels offer private pool options or swim up rooms for that ultimate honeymoon vibe, and they are very used to ensuring your stay is memorable with lots of additional honeymoon benefits too. Bali I've saved this one until the end as it was where I honeymooned myself, many years ago! With so much culture on offer and amazing scenery, I would certainly recommend either hiring a car, or a car and driver (this is what we did) to really get out and explore the many temples, lakes, emerald rice terraces and other beaches that are on offer. Accommodation varies significantly from treehouse style resorts to contemporary and minimalist beachfront properties. Again, there is something to suit all tastes and budgets so it's easy to please most honeymoon couples! Summing up To sum up, there is so much choice when it comes to honeymoon planning and whilst we might be a bit limited at the moment, I hope I've shown you there really is something to suit all tastes, budgets, and dreams. Working with someone who knows the ins and outs of planning and has the experience to take your honeymoon to another level really is the best way to ensure this truly once in a lifetime trip is remembered forever. So if I've inspired you, then what are you waiting for - get in touch to arrange a consultation to start the planning and we can work together to ensure you get the honeymoon you've always dreamed of!

Saint Lucia Top 10 from a double award-winning expert!

18 November 2020

Having been to Saint Lucia several times, I thought I’d share with you my Top 10 highlights from my favourite Caribbean Island. In no particular order.... 1/. See the Pitons The Pitons are the iconic symbols of Saint Lucia and are a World Heritage Site. They are volcanic plugs rising from the Caribbean Sea, and it is possible to climb Gros Piton (2619ft) with a guide which we did on our most recent trip. It was hard as it was so humid and there isn’t really much of a path, it was certainly more of a scramble, but I was so pleased I did it when I got to the top! I would recommend seeing them either from the water or from the Tet Paul Trail which is a much gentler hike with commanding views. My top tip is get a seat on the left of the aircraft so you get a great view of them as you come into land - amazing! 2/. Visit Pigeon Island Pigeon Island National Landmark is considered the most important monument of Saint Lucia’s history. It’s a great place to visit if you want to experience some of this for yourself, and a very interesting distraction from the beach. Joined to the mainland by a causeway, this famous battleground has been occupied by many of Saint Lucia’s famous residents over the years and is home to many ruined military buildings used during the battles between the British and the French in years gone by. Well worth a visit, I would recommend climbing to the top to enjoy some spectacular views but don't worry the climb is nowhere near as challenging as Gros Piton! 3/. Go bird watching Saint Lucia is home to 6 endemic species and as a considerable amount of the island is covered in rainforest, it’s not hard to see plenty of birds during your stay. Many resorts in the south of the island offer bird watching tours or why not take a hike through the rainforest with some binoculars to see what you might find? Anse Chastanet in particular is a great property if you are a keen twitcher as the rooms have the 4th wall missing so are open to the elements, and as it’s built on the edge of the rainforest many different types of bird can be spotted – listen out for the dawn chorus! 4/. Try the Segway or zipline through the rainforest We took the Segway excursion from Rodney Bay and it was fantastic fun. After a practice in the car park to get used to it, we were off! We climbed the hill and stopped to hear some local history from our hosts along the way, all the while enjoying fabulous views across to Pigeon Island. You can also enjoy a rainforest canopy tour, or if you are feeling adventurous you can start with a rainforest hike and zipline back down. Sailing through the trees whilst watching the flora and fauna is a fantastic way to spend a day! 5/. Pretend to be a Pirate at Marigot Bay One of the prettiest natural harbours in the Caribbean, I think this must be one of the most beautiful places to spend the day. Feeling like an extra from Pirates of the Caribbean, this natural hurricane hole is home to some stunning sailing boats and yachts and is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a west coast sunset. One of my highlights and home to the stunning Marigot Bay resort, it’s well worth a visit to sit back and enjoy the views. It’s also possible to take part in the ridge climb on the opposite side of the bay, but I’ve heard it’s pretty steep. After managing to climb Gros Piton on our recent trip, the ridge climb is a must do for me when I return…! 6/. Take the helicopter If you are staying on the north west of the island, I would recommend upgrading your transfer to the helicopter on arrival – it’s the most fantastic start to your holiday and what a way to arrive! The helipad is located just outside arrivals at the international airport and the flight takes just over 10 minutes. Your pilot will give you a guided tour as you fly over the centre of the island, taking in views of the rainforest, local villages and in the distance spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea. We enjoyed this on our recent visit, and I have to say it was worth every penny for the experience – one I will remember forever! On arrival at the domestic airport a taxi can be arranged to take you the last part of your journey to your preferred hotel. It’s the only way to arrive – trust me! 7/. Enjoy a Fish Fry Friday night is party night in Saint Lucia with many local towns hosting their own famous Fish Fry. Also known as jump up, these carnival style parties are filled with lively soca and reggae and offer an abundance of fresh seafood for everyone to enjoy. Get mixing with the locals and be prepared to stay up late! The larger ones can be found in Anse Le Ray, Dennery and Gros Islet but are island wide so get out and try your local event. Just a warning – the music is LOUD! 8/. Enjoy the local rum If you get the chance to try the local drink, I certainly recommend it. The history of rum dates back hundreds of years and is truly something that’s at the heart of Saint Lucia. Local distillers are full of knowledge and expert advice and will tell you the process of turning the sugar cane into the different types of rums that are now available. My tip is to ask about the forgotten casks – it’s a great story from Chairman’s Reserve, which is my absolute favourite rum! 9/. Travel by boat One of my favourite memories of my many visits to the Caribbean was the first time I went by boat from the north of the island down to the Pitons. Seeing the island from the water blew me away and reminded me of scenes from Jurassic Park – I honestly expected to see a T-Rex climbing over the rolling hills! The views and scenery really are stunning and seeing the Pitons come into view really is breath-taking. A definite highlight and a real ‘must-do’ for anyone. 10/. Play in a water park If you’re feeling energetic, I would certainly recommend a visit to Splash Island Water Park at Reduit Beach. We were 4 grown adults and I have never laughed so much on holiday! This inflatable water park is located just offshore, and features a trampoline, swing, high jump, climbing walls, steppingstones and more. Think Total Wipeout in the Caribbean and you’re about right. I was exhausted but cried laughing! With such a variety of accommodation and experiences available why not get in touch and let me know which of my top 10 you’d like to try for yourself. I’m always happy to help and will go the extra mile to make your experience amazing!

Barbados Break

03 April 2020

Barbados break – March 2020 So, as a Caribbean specialist and lover of all things surrounded by water, I thought I’d share with you some thoughts on one of my favourite Caribbean islands. This was my 4th visit to Barbados and as with most Caribbean islands, there are two distinctly different coastlines with the main concentration of hotels located on the west, which enjoys the calm waters of the Caribbean. The east coast is bordered by the Atlantic, which I will come to later. March is a great time to travel as the Caribbean enjoys high temperatures year-round and it was warm and dry with very little rain. I have travelled to the Caribbean at various times of the year and whilst these are tropical islands, they do endure some rain at times although on every visit any rain has never bothered us as the sun soon comes out! We were lucky enough to stay at the beautiful 5* Colony Club, located just north of Holetown on the west coast which is the island’s main tourist hotspot. Set in stunningly beautiful gardens and located directly on a white sandy beach bordered with turquoise waters, this lovely property offers very high standards, excellent dining choices and an array or water sports are included as well as a selection of motorised options. I took advantage of this and attempted to water ski which I can confirm is much harder than it looks! There are number of hotels on the island that cater for all travellers, from family friendly to all inclusive, as well as self-catering options along with a great selection of private villas in case you’re planning a multi-generational trip. We had some meals included but not all and I would recommend this as there are some amazing world class restaurants available to enjoy across the island. During our stay we hired a jeep as the locals drive on the left so it’s easy to get out and about and explore. I would certainly recommend this for at least a day as the contrast between the east and west coasts is dramatic. The stunning scenery that awaited us when we drove down Cherry Tree Hill was breath-taking, with amazing views out towards the much rougher coastline bordered by the Atlantic. It’s not possible to safely swim on the east coast due to the currents, although the famous ‘Soup Bowl’ is a fabulous spot near Bathsheba recommended for keen surfers. It was like stepping back in time when compared to the hotels and restaurants offered on the west coast, so well worth a visit to see a different side to the island. We also enjoyed an amazing meal at chic restaurant Lonestar to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. Whilst eating out on the island isn’t cheap, (similar to London prices) the standards and choice really are excellent, and due to the stunning location right on the water’s edge at Alleyne’s Bay with the sound of the waves in the background this will be a meal Neil and I will remember for many years to come! Another popular excursion is a catamaran trip and we weren’t disappointed with our choice. We spent a day on Seaduced where we enjoyed amazing hospitality and a stunning cruise up the west coast, looking out for some of the luxury hotels and restaurants that can be spotted from the water. During our trip we stopped for a snorkel and were lucky enough to be joined by 3 friendly hawksbill turtles which was amazing and a real highlight of our trip. Barbados has lots more to offer with plenty of place to visit including historic sights, stunning coastline, sunsets to die for and pretty gardens, so why not consider it for a special trip? Hopefully this has whetted your appetite but please do get in touch if you’d like to know more!

The Maldives in a nutshell!

12 May 2020

When we stop to think of our dream holiday destination, the endless clear blue skies, ‘icing sugar’ sand beaches, turquoise waters and beautifully crafted bungalows on stilts, the Maldives ticks every single one of the boxes and then some. Having been lucky enough to visit myself, I can tell you from personal experience that they are an exquisite paradise, and certainly live up to the hype. What I can also tell you from my experience as an accomplished Maldivian specialist is there is a whole lot more to getting there and getting it right than meets the eye, and as this is so often a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip, it’s the time when you really do need to engage the services of someone who knows their stuff as there are a number of things that can go wrong if not planned properly. Here is my list of ‘what you need to know’ if you are planning a visit. Some of it might be obvious, but some of it could really help you make sure your trip runs smoothly, and your expectations will hopefully be exceeded. 1. Getting to the Maldives is straightforward enough but getting to your chosen resort is something that needs careful planning and advice. International flights arrive into Male, and onward travel is either by: Seaplane Speedboat Local flight and then boat 2. When to travel? Peak season to ensure the very best weather is from December through to April, however this is also reflected in the price you’ll pay. If you can travel just outside of these times or even in our summer, whilst the weather is a bit more changeable, you can pick up a steal as there are often free nights available, complimentary upgrades and all sorts of extras. Again, insider knowledge and a bit of flexibility can help you make some serious savings. 3. Each island is a bespoke resort in its own right. Once you reach your resort, this will be your home for the duration of your stay so make sure you choose wisely. You can’t hire a car, or pop to another island to try out their restaurant, so do your research before you book. Resorts vary considerably in terms of style, price, size and what they offer so this is the most important choice you will make when planning your trip. Do you want an island with a house reef (so you can snorkel from the beach) that is more ‘Robinson Crusoe’ in style, or would you prefer somewhere that is more modern and contemporary with a luxury spa? A choice of dining options and a range of facilities is often limited (these are small islands, remember!) so again these all need to be thought about at the time of booking. Looking at photos and images online, they all look stunning, but looks can be deceiving.... 4. Beach villa or over water bungalow? Now this one divides opinion every time! Who has dreamt of staying in your very own private water bungalow on stilts floating above the Indian Ocean? This is something that is almost unique to the Maldives, and one that many of my clients who are first time visitors say they want. However, often on their return they comment that they wish they’d opted for a beach villa instead as they are often cheaper, more spacious and private, and have a more enviable location. Of course, this is something that is subjective and needs to be discussed at the planning stage, but with a bit of knowledge and careful thought, I can help you make the right decision. And of course, if you can’t decide, why not do both? 5. What to pack? Trust me on this. You don’t need 10 pairs of sandals or lots of glamorous evening wear. You will hear the saying ‘no news, no shoes’ from many locals and this is what it’s all about. Forget your heels, bare feet are the order of the day so get your pedicure sorted and go with it. Lots of light, cool clothes are the way forward and the vibe is definitely relaxed. All islands have small shops so don’t worry if you forget anything, the resort will have essentials available. One ‘must have’ would be an underwater camera as you really won’t want to miss out on anything below the surface, I can promise you! Also pack any medication and of course, plenty of sunscreen. 6. It’s a Muslim country. This means no stopping at the duty free for the obligatory G for your G&T as it will be taken from you on arrival. It also means that you need to be respectful of dress code at the airport, and if you visit any local islands during your stay. Don’t worry though because as soon as you arrive at your resort, bikini and trunks are definitely the order of the day, and alcohol is also available if you’d like to partake! Remember, when making your island choice make sure you research arrival and departure times into Male as onward transfers are not always convenient. Seaplanes, for example, only run during daylight hours and operate like a taxi service, not to a timetable. If booking through a specialist like me, you can be confident that transfers will be included as part of your package and will be arranged directly with the resort themselves. They can be expensive, but I highly recommend that you try a seaplane – it's the most amazing experience flying over the atolls and one I will never forget. If you are considering your dream trip to these beautiful islands, the above tips will give you some insight as what to expect and, as always, if you need any help with your plans please do get in touch. There are lots more tips I can add and I’m always happy to chat about your holidays so please feel free to give me a call – your dream holiday might not be that far away!

My customer stories

Sent by Ellie Tungate

We have just arrived home from a fantastic holiday to Greece - big thank you Karen! From start to finish you have been excellent checking in with us pre holiday, whilst away and on return. We were also upgraded to a private villa whilst away. I couldn’t imagine booking another holiday without you now … and we can’t wait to book again! Thank you so much for making this such an incredible holiday and experience.

Sent by Kerry Reardon

Karen was so knowledgeable and really helped answer all my questions especially around all the travel restrictions in place due to covid. I was very apprehensive that I had missed something and she helped put my mind at ease and ensured my holiday went as smoothly as possible. Thanks again! I will be in touch for my future travels.

Sent by Alexandra O'Reilly

10/10 amazing service Karen Thornton Covid created lots of problems for our travel plans but nothing stopped Karen finding us our dream honeymoon. Amazing, personalised service and very friendly. Would recommend to anyone! Thanks again x

Sent by Lucy Smale

We've had a great experience working with Karen to book our honeymoon. The online chats have been relaxed and informative, Karen has understood our needs and also our concerns should our wedding not be able to go ahead. We're really pleased with where we have chosen. Would highly recommend.

Sent by Susan Hunter

Karen Thornton has been amazing! Due to the pandemic we have planned and rescheduled three holidays now! Her knowledge and care for every detail of our trips have shown how dedicated she is to providing a very special, personalised service. She replies very promptly to any queries that I have and has been extremely patient when I’ve changed my mind or tweaked details (many times!)....Nothing is too much trouble. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her and will not be returning to package holidays any more!

Sent by Patricia Kennedy

Thank You Karen for arranging our second holiday with you. We had such fantastic service the first time we had to come back. Keeping us informed during covid and keeping us safe was a bonus. Thank You Trish

Sent by Alistair Mabey

Karen Thornton has been exceptionally helpful from the first minute we spoke. I’ve never used a travel agent before and she has changed my mind forever. Partly because of her outstanding work ethic and wanting to please us throughout the process and even to the day we landed home. Karen has such a vast knowledge of all areas in Saint Lucia, from the hotels, excursions and even the hotel staff. All the staff seem to know her and also speak highly of her. Booking a holiday during the government restrictions must be a nightmare! Especially when our flights got cancelled twice! If we didn’t have Karen to fix all of our problems I don’t think we would have gone. So I can’t thank her enough for that. She is also the nicest and caring lady and we highly recommend using her! Thanks Karen :)

Sent by Sarah Nuttal-Worsley

If you are looking at going away on holiday next year, be sure to get in touch with Karen. She is fantastic at listening to exactly what you want and coming up with a great package. Also, if you are going somewhere that needs anything doing in relation to COVID-19, she will do it all for you! I fully recommend her for all your holiday needs, whether you are staying in the UK or going abroad

Sent by Mark Bricknell

In today's difficult world Karen has been a reassuring and calming voice whilst sorting out my 60th birthday celebrations for next year. Fantastic service and highly recommended

Sent by Nicola Doyle

Karen from Travel Counsellors really goes the extra mile! Nothing is too much trouble. She offers, honest practical advice and is dedicated to her career. She is well travelled and we know that with Karen overseeing our booking, we are in the best hands! Thank you Karen for being such a great support! John & Nikki.

Sent by Anne Evans

Karen has been a true professional throughout the process. She has sorted out our holiday for next year and found properties for us which we would not of found ourselves and they are AMAZING!! She has gone above and beyond getting us a special break and thinking about all the touches we would like. I would highly recommend Karen for all of your holiday needs.

Sent by Viv Cox

I've known Karen for many years and her wealth of travel knowledge is excellent. She has always given unbiased, professional advice and has helped me plan some fantastic trips, and leaves nothing to chance. The extra touches she adds means I can relax and enjoy my stay safe in the knowledge I am in good hands. If you are looking for someone to go that extra mile, who is a true expert and available at times to suit you, I would highly recommend getting in touch with Karen, you won't be disappointed!

Sent by Milly Woodall

I would never book with another Travel Company again! Karen has delivered a bespoke service from start to finish and went over and above by delivering a Gift Package with a New York Travel Guide Book and Itinerary for my partner’s Birthday Surprise Gift. Thank you Karen so much, you’ve truly been amazing. I can’t wait to book more Dream Holidays with you in the future!!

Sent by Sarah Soctratous

We opted to book through Karen Thornton and I cant praise her enough. She has gone above and beyond to tailor make our dream holiday for us. Nothing was too much hassle and all questions were answered if anyone is looking for a holiday after this whole pandemic is over I would HIGHLY recommend Karen.

Sent by Julia Ingram

I have dealt with Karen for a number of years and she is always brilliant! She gets to know you personally, making her recommendations and suggestions spot on for any holiday. I always feel like I have received fantastic service and great value every single time. Thank you Karen!

Sent by Joni Manning

Karen has so much knowledge and experience in travel. She goes above and beyond to find you the best possible options to suit your personal needs and preferences- and knows how to find competitive prices too.