Madeira - All
Welcome to Travel Counsellors and thanks for visiting my page.
I am a Travel Counsellor based in Tonbridge, Kent. I absolutely love travel and am living the dream, planning holidays for people and making your travel dreams come true!
After travelling around more than 40 countries, I recently had the privilege of spending three months travelling in South America, visiting Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador (including the Galapagos) and Colombia. I combined backpacking with five-star hotels, trekked to Machu Picchu and boated down the Amazon - incredible experiences that will stay with me forever. I try to learn a few words everywhere I go and love to experiment with the local food, although being vegetarian, that has sometimes been slightly disastrous!
From a weekend away in the UK to a week in the sun to the trip of a lifetime, I can research, book and take care of all of the details for you and get it tailored just for you. I am an independent travel adviser and I want to get it right for each and every one of my clients, so there’s no hard sell.
I don’t want you to come back from a holiday that I have helped with thinking ‘that was OK’ - I want to exceed expectations wherever possible and give you the fantastic time away that you deserve.
Whatever your holiday needs I'm here to help you, so please either fill in and send the form below or simply give me a call and I can get things started for you:-
Sent in by Janet Colenutt
Tunbridge Wells, 05 September 2019
Liz has been brilliant on more than one occasion now. She is passionate about what she does and this really shows through. Liz pays attention to detail and those little things that make a trip a holiday! Thank you Liz.... I’ve no hesitation in recommending you and your service to others!
Sent in by Peter Nwosu
Enfield, 04 June 2019
First class service we receive from Liz including communication, diligence, flexibility, reliability and collaboration. That’s why we keep coming back to her first! Thank you.
Sent in by Chris Lawrence
Hildenborough, 05 March 2019
An excellent service was provided by Liz. It was personal and our itinerary was tailored exactly to our requirements, all our queries were sorted and she was there each step of our way. We were very impressed!
Sent in by Douglas Mills
Bristol, 13 February 2019
Liz has organised our two South American trips. Both were designed by Liz for two couples. She came up with great suggestions of where to go and provided us with a variety of accommodation which really appealed to us. We had a mixture of Private and small Group tours. All our trips were ideally paced to not feel too rushed. Liz was in regular contact with us after booking making suggestions for what to take on holiday and, amazingly, emailed boarding passes whilst we were away! We have just asked her for a simple USA flight and car rental quotation and she came up with a great deal compared to Sunday Times national Travel operators. A true professional!
Sent in by Hannah Gidley
Tonbridge, 03 December 2018
I have already recommended Liz to my parents due to her excellent service and travel knowledge. Everything has been really easy and Liz is very accommodating and happy to personalise our holiday! Liz is very good at getting in contact and replying quickly to any email communication! We couldn't be happier with our final honeymoon itinerary! Thank you Liz!
Sent in by Kevin Macleod
Tunbridge Wells, 14 February 2018
Like many people, trying to find the time to research and locate that ideal holiday, or in our case, honeymoon, is really difficult. We gave Liz some ideas of what we liked and our budget. Liz then came back with some lovely options that stretched our imagination. A great service and good communication all along. Definitely recommend Liz, to pull the whole package together. Thank you. Just one thing left for us to do, relax and enjoy our lovely holiday/ honeymoon.
Sent in by Amanda Paver
Tunbridge Wells, 30 November 2017
Liz was wonderful in booking and planning our honeymoon, I loved the flexibility of dealing with her and not having to go visit a shop. It had a personal feeling which I really liked, and I'd not hesitate to recommend her (or use her myself) again.
Sent in by Roy Patey
Tunbridge Wells, 10 April 2017
We have never used Liz or Travel Counsellors before but have been persuaded by the comments of others. We have found Liz and her team to be both attentive and thorough in the organising of a very complicated and amended holiday. We have nothing but praise for Liz and would add that it is testament to her quality of service that we have today instructed her to source another holiday before we have even gone on this one.
Sent in by Stewart Robertson
Tunbridge Wells, 03 April 2017
It seemed like a simple thing to do ourselves, but I thought I'd get advice from Liz. She came up with a great suggestion which was not so simple for us to book but easy for her. We benefit from her experience.
Sent in by Nadine Scurr
Halstead, 20 March 2017
Liz was most helpful and took on board all our requirements so that we have together worked out what promises to be a good holiday.
Sent in by Tracy Wilson
Tunbridge Wells, 10 March 2017
Liz Penn is very knowledgeable, extremely helpful and I cannot recommend her enough. If I hadn't used Liz to book my holiday in Iceland I don't think I could have done it without her.
Sent in by Liza Georgiou
Limassol, 12 October 2016
Extremely happy so far with my travel arrangements for our first visit to India made by Liz. Very professional and helpful, useful suggestions. Thank you. Will definitely recommend her, as I was recommended to her by another friend.
Sent in by Delly Dickson
Southborough, 11 May 2016
Liz Penn is a wonderful lady, who very quickly "sussed" us out and instinctively understood our priorities. She listened carefully to our requirements and then exceeded them. For example, she made sure that any longer flights were scheduled for overnight, so that we did not waste daylight hours travelling. She also scheduled in time for us to visit Singapore between flights, as we had been there before, but were previously stuck in the airport. Liz also recognised that we are not "5 star" travellers, but included luxury elements that we do feel comfortable with. Liz produced a well-balanced itinerary, with activity and relaxation days spread throughout. It has been a joy to meet and work with Liz Penn and I would highly recommend her to anyone contemplating a special trip.
Sent in by Angela Conibere
Bristol, 25 April 2016
Liz has been extremely helpful. Very patient with our changes to the itinerary and gave us good advice as to our visits and time scale. No doubt we shall be contacting her again before our trip for some final advice. A very knowledgeable authority on South America.
Sent in by Shona Campbell
Sevenoaks, 07 April 2016
I've been consistently impressed by the high quality of service provided by Liz - she really takes the time and puts the effort in to find the holiday you're looking for, even if you don't yet know what it is yourself.
Sent in by Steve Jamieson
Sunnningdale, 16 November 2015
I have already recommended Liz to three other people since I received such fantastic service - Liz has really listened to our needs, she had been very patient with our itinerary changes, and she has provided timely and regular communication. Awesome!!
Sent in by Andrew Johnson
Week St Mary, 20 April 2015
Liz is the best travel agent in the world. Simple. Great understanding of our needs, great service and great fun.
Sent in by N J
Tunbridge Wells, 09 March 2015
Liz has been brilliant in arranging our holiday. She was attentive to our very specific requirements, kept me fully informed and has made the whole booking process seamless. I have no hesitation in recommending Liz and will definitely be using her for all our future holiday requirements. A well justified 10 out of 10.
With independent access to thousands of travel suppliers around the world, I've got an eye for added value. Take a look through my latest selections below. But even if nothing particularly catches your eye - don't worry! Let's chat and I'll take the hassle away from tailoring a perfectly personalised holiday just for you.
Contact me on 01732 807510
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.
30 August 2019
I absolutely love Greece and Kefalonia is somewhere that has certainly featured in my wish-list for some time, so when I was fortunate enough to receive a travel agent offer from Sunvil I seized the opportunity! We chose the Kaminakia apartments, within walking distance of Fiskardo, as we wanted to be close to town but also wanted a pool to enjoy. The apartments are basic but comfortable and were perfectly suited for our needs – after all, we were there to explore Fiskardo, Kefalonia and the neighbouring Ionian island of Ithaca, so who needs the Ritz? I was curious to know...
02 May 2019
I really wanted to share the great feedback and wonderful photos (I especially love the traditional costumes!) I had from some lovely clients who have travelled as a group of four on two lengthy trips to South America in the last couple of years with me. I'm sure they won't mind me saying they are (slightly) older than the average back-packer but their wanderlust and enthusiasm has given me the opportunity to suggest all sorts of outlandish ways of getting them well and truly off the beaten track, including 20-hour bus journeys, 4 x4s and stopping off at places many people...
13 March 2019
I had the wonderful opportunity of spending 5 days in Singapore with Singapore Airlines (fabulous by the way) and the Tourist Board. They were determined to make sure we sampled the best of everything Singapore has to offer, so we packed a lot in! Most Brits are likely to visit Singapore on a stopover, sometimes just a touchdown and sometimes for a day or so. My suggestion is to give yourselves a little bit longer and really get to know this fascinating city state. Here are some ideas of how to spend your stopover… One Day 24 hours in Singapore, where do...
10 January 2019
I’ve recently completed training with the Travel Foundation – an organisation determined to put sustainable tourism at the top of every country’s agenda. This is about more than single-use plastic; although that is a great place to start, this encompasses the impacts of the travel industry on the local economy, communities and the environment, to ensure it contributes positively. The Travel Foundation works with countries and the tourist industry to bring stakeholders together, identifying opportunities to improve knowledge and skills and support best practice. Recent examples include working with local suppliers to provide hotels with local produce in the Mayan Riviera,...
31 December 2018
A New Year means new opportunities to travel to new and exciting destinations but where do you start? I’ve put together my Top 5 to give you a few ideas but the world’s your oyster, so get in touch wherever you’re planning on travelling in 2019. 1) Sri Lanka Sri Lanka packs a lot into a relatively small island. Travel to the northern cultural triangle of Buddhist shrines in Anuradhapura, the rock fortress at Sigiriya and the medieval capital of Polonnaruwa, visit Kandy’s sacred Temple of the Tooth, hunt for leopards in the national parks, step back in time at Galle’s historic fort...
10 June 2018
Following a couple of nights in Vegas (see previous blog) we picked up our Mustang convertible (what else?) and hit the road. First stop was the Grand Canyon but less than an hour out of Vegas is an equally awe-inspiring site, albeit a man-made one. The Hoover Dam is a genuine feat of engineering – I was a little bit unnerved to discover it’s pretty much held in place by gravity. The visitor centre is well worth it, even for a completely unscientific person like me. We finished the day in Tusayan, just half a dozen miles from the Grand Canyon....
08 June 2018
I’ve always assumed Las Vegas is very much like Marmite – you either love it or hate it. I wasn’t sure which camp I would be in and there was only one way to find out! As part of a trip designed to visit several US National Parks we were starting with the Grand Canyon, a mere four-hour road trip from Vegas, so that decided our starting point. On arrival it looms out of the desert like some kind of neon-lit oasis – totally unlike anything else for miles around. To try to get our body clocks back on track we’d...
11 January 2018
If you’re a mum with school-age children, the chances are you’ll have heard of the Algarve resorts of Martinhal and Pine Cliffs or the Greek mainland choices of Sani or Ikos. They are fantastic resorts offering a huge range of accommodation and activities aimed at creating memorable family holidays and long may they continue to do so. However, you might be looking for something different. Maybe you think it’s time for the kids to be introduced to new cultures. Maybe you don’t want to spend a week by the pirate-themed swimming pool. Maybe they’re a bit older and you can push...
12 October 2017
Bologna has many names – La Dotta, referring to the number of educational institutes that can be found there, La Rossa, for both its ubiquitous roof tiles and communist sensibilities and, my personal favourite, La Grassa – the fat one – for the sheer magnitude of superb cuisine – just don’t ask for Spaghetti Bolognese (read on and I’ll explain why). I’ve visited a fair bit of Italy and absolutely love it. Friends of ours have a particular penchant for truffles, so we decided to visit this slightly under-the-radar town to check out what has drawn leading writers, philosophers and chefs...
12 September 2017
Our stay on Crete was drawing to an end and I had opted for a serious dose of luxury to provide an appropriate send-off. This took the form of the truly magnificent Blue Palace Hotel, based just outside Plaka on the Mirabello Gulf, overlooking the famous (thanks in large part to Victoria Hislop) former leper colony on the mysterious island of Spinalonga. The island provides a haunting backdrop for the Blue Palace, and one you can enjoy from each of the 250 rooms as they are all positioned with a sea view, as are the restaurants and other facilities. More than...
05 September 2017
After a few days of essentially walking and eating, we headed out to explore a little more of this part of the island. Arkadi Monastery is a poignant reminder of the resistance of the local population to invasion by the Ottomans. As the battle was lost, the women and children who sheltered here chose to ignite the gunpowder store rather than join the Turkish harems – the storeroom has been left unrestored as a final testament to their sacrifice. As we found with most of Crete, the drive from Rethymnon to the monastery could be tackled in different ways, so...
02 September 2017
I’ve lost count of the number of times I have sent clients to Greece this year, and Crete is one of the perennial favourites – fabulous beaches, lots of culture, great food and wonderful weather – at least, that’s what I’ve always told people even though I’d never been! It was clearly time to practice what I preach. It’s been some time since my last visit to Greece, specifically Skiathos, mainly because of a fascination with Croatia and a love of Italian food that has taken me elsewhere in search of sunshine. This year, with the sunshine on hold until September,...
16 June 2017
I try to make a point of going away for my birthday every year and, as it falls in June, I can usually expect good weather. This year we headed to Lisbon, which was in the middle of a heatwave so the weather was perhaps a little too good. We’d pre-ordered Lisboa cards which we collected at the airport – this gave us discount or free entry to a number of top sights, free travel for our chosen length of stay (72 hours for €40), and also gave us a smug feeling as we swanned past the crowds at the airport...
26 May 2017
It’s been a long-held dream of mine (well alright, fantasy and it has always involved watching from one of the super yachts) to go to the Monaco Grand Prix and I finally bit the bullet this year. One of our fabulous partners, BAC Sports, had an offer on for five nights in Nice and grandstand tickets to the race, so I just couldn’t pass it up. I won’t bore you with the race details (F1 fans, get in touch and I’ll bore you directly) but this is a truly spectacular event. We met plenty of people who had little or no...
17 March 2017
Where are you going this time? La Palma? Oh I love Majorca. Nope, that’s Palma, this is one of the Canary Islands. Oh yes, Las Palmas is on Gran Canaria, isn’t it? Well yes, but it’s not that one either. This pretty much sums up one of the main attractions of staying on La Palma – no one’s ever heard of it, let alone been there. It’s one of the smallest of the seven main islands and is out to the northwest, which makes it a little more prone to cloud and rain, making it incredibly green and luscious...
09 December 2016
Mention the Seychelles to most people and it immediately conjures up images of perfect white sand beaches fringed by palm trees with unusual boulders jutting out of the turquoise sea. And that’s just about spot on. The second thought is probably along the lines of ‘expensive’ or perhaps ‘exclusive’, which is where I beg to differ. I was one of a very lucky group of six Travel Counsellors fortunate enough to visit some of the granitic islands of the Seychelles (there are also the harder to reach coralline islands) in December, and was impressed with not just the superb 5*...
20 June 2016
Being at work on your birthday is over-rated, and the last couple of years has seen me jet off somewhere as the UK's weather gets increasingly unpredictable in June! This year (due to far too many other holidays) we only had time for a long weekend and, after a bit of research (also known as asking people on Facebook), Budapest beat Copenhagen. Surprisingly quick to get to (about a two-hour flight), this wonderful city of Buda on the left bank of the Danube and Pest on the right bank is relatively compact, with decent public transport and certainly has enough to...
28 March 2016
Recently I was very lucky to be one of a group of fellow Travel Counsellors who got to take a cruise courtesy of Carnival. We were fortunate to start our trip with a couple of days in Louisiana in the capable hands of Neil Jones from the office of tourism. After a slightly bumpy start to the trip involving various flight and luggage issues we were underway! First stop was Lafayette, staying near the airport as we were late arriving. The Homewood Suites were very comfortable and had everything needed for a longer stay – they would even do your shopping...
28 March 2016
Following on from my blog about Louisiana and New Orleans, here's what I made of Carnival Cruises... Our first two days were at sea, which gave us plenty of time to acquaint ourselves with everything the Carnival Dream had to offer. The first thing that springs to mind is the amazing food – so fresh, tasty and plentiful but such a variety of options – you simply couldn’t get bored and that’s coming from a vegetarian! The sit-down dining had daily choices as well as a set menu. At an extra $35 per person the steak restaurant was well worth it...
16 February 2016
I have to admit I'm a little bit of a Lanzarote fan - enough going on to keep all of the family interested but plenty of places to find some peace and quiet. Couple that with one man's successful crusade to limit the impact of development and for me it's the perfect example of a Canarias island. As much as I love Lanzarote, I invariably find myself both returning to and recommending clients visit Playa Blanca. This pretty little town is named after its beautiful beaches as, despite the volcanic nature of the island, the beaches are surprisingly golden, if not...
19 October 2015
In October this year I got the chance to take part in my first educational trip – 10 nights in South Africa. I was thoroughly excited as this was somewhere I had never visited, but I must admit to having a degree of trepidation at the thought of visiting Johannesburg, largely thanks to sheer ignorance! Our Virgin Atlantic flights were great (I was lucky enough to be upgraded to Premium Economy but that’s another story) and thanks to the lack of time difference and a bit of kip I felt good to go when we got there. Just as well,...
17 September 2014
Having been to Italy several times I couldn't quite believe I'd still not been to Venice, so when I found I had an opportunity to go in September, I grabbed it with both hands. I arrived on train from Trieste via Croatia and only had two days and one night to see as much as I could. The train station delivers you directly onto the Grand Canal and your first sense of the timelessness of this floating architectural wonder. The incredible architecture surrounds and dwarfs you as you float to your hotel either in the comfort of a water taxi or...
31 January 2014
It's hardly surprising that Iceland's landscape has been inspiring people for centuries - from Jules Verne using the glacier of Snaefellsjokull as the base for Journey to the Centre of the Earth to the world's biggest TV series, Game of Thrones using a range of Icelandic backdrops - it truly is a stunning and unique natural beauty. I visited Iceland with the hope of seeing the Northern Lights. Big mistake. Visit Iceland to see Iceland - if you happen to catch a glimpse of aurora borealis whilst you're out there doing your thing then count yourself incredibly lucky. It can and...
15 August 2013
OK, I admit I was basically going in the hopes of catching a glimpse of a certain Mr George Clooney who has a place down the road but the Italian Lakes offer lots of alternative eye candy if he proves elusive! I stayed on Lake Como, in a small village called Argegno with the most wonderful tiny piazza incorporating a few restaurants, an enoteca and a highly noteworthy gelateria – I recommend the hazelnut – yum. Although we hired a car to get there, there are regular bus services and it’s also on the main ferry route, so the ideal...
13 June 2013
As part of our time in South America, my husband and I spent a few nights in the Ecuadorian rainforest on a tributary of the Amazon. The trip down was on a motorised canoe and the sheer width of the river amazed us – of course it’s the main mode of transport, so we passed by all sorts of boats; some taking children to school and others carrying heavy equipment for the logging industry. Upon arrival at our dock we still had a short hike through the (unsurprisingly) damp undergrowth on a raised walkway before reaching the lagoon the lodge was...
17 May 2013
My husband and I had been planning to have a go at the Inca Trail for about the last ten years, but life got in the way. So, with the opportunity of a lifetime to spend three months travelling around South America, this experience was top of our list. We had acclimatised as we travelled through northern Chile and into Peru, so by the time we got to Cusco, the starting point for the Inca Trail, we only really found ourselves out of breath when we were tackling any of the monster stairs to be found in town. Things didn’t get off...
10 May 2013
La Paz is an incredible place. It was with some trepidation that we headed there, having heard the horror stories about drugs and crime. It sounds as though that story has reached the ears of the Bolivian government though, as every tourist area has a clear police presence. I didn’t once feel even remotely worried for my safety, but instead absolutely fell in love with the vibrancy and people. It’s worth noting that they love a good strike though, usually involving a blockade at the top which stops anything getting in or out of the city - bear in mind...
07 May 2013
San Pedro is where we decided to deviate from the well-worn gringo trail through the salt flats on Uyuni, as stunning as it looks, all because I wanted to visit a ghost town…ever since I read about Santa Laura and Humberstone I’ve wanted to go there – a saltpeter mine and attached town in the middle of nowhere which, thanks to becoming a World Heritage site, has been remarkably preserved. It was built when the nitrate industry was in its infancy around 1858 and went through various people's hands until it closed for good in 1961, leaving a fascinating mine...
01 May 2013
After a few weeks in the southern part of Chile, we travelled up the country (with a detour over to Mendoza for the wine, of course), passing Mario Irarrazabal’s Mano del Desierto, a giant hand in the middle of nowhere. We were heading for San Pedro de Atacama, situated within the Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth. San Pedro is a very chilled out, quite hippy-ish sort of place. We stayed in one of the typical single storey adobe buildings, converted to a hostel with rooms around a central courtyard, featuring a hammock so you could take in the night...
22 April 2013
As I mention in the Torres Del Paine entry, Puerto Natales is a fantastic base for a number of wonderful sights in Patagonia. Having completed the trek and celebrated with Patagonia’s very own Baguales beer, we thought it was high time to detour over to Argentina to take a look at one of their own biggest Patagonian draws – Perito Moreno Glacier. It’s really difficult to do it justice in photos but here are a few facts – it’s one of the only glaciers that is still growing, the face is between 50 and 60 metres high and, in the main...
07 April 2013
After spending two weeks trying to learn something resembling Spanish in Buenos Aires (a truly stunning, very European city), we flew down to Punta Arenas in Chilean Patagonia. We spent a few days visiting the area my husband’s granny grew up in and then headed by bus to Puerto Natales. This was a great jumping off point for some wonderful experiences, not the least of which being the National Park of Torres Del Paine. There’s a famous five-day ‘W’ trek that follows a w-shaped route through the park. You have to carry all of your own equipment but you at least...
10 February 2012
Everyone seems to think that Istanbul should only ever be visited in the summer but I beg to differ. For Christmas 2011 my enterprising husband surprised me with a long weekend in Istanbul...for Valentine's. He's cheeky like that. I let him get away with it as it's somewhere I've always wanted to go and I do love a good city break out of season. We arrived accompanied by a small flurry of snow to a picturesque and largely tourist-free Istanbul. I'd not really known what to expect from the anticipated 'East meets West' location - for some reason I'd got it...
25 July 2009
I've had the fortune to visit Dubrovnik twice and it truly is the Pearl of the Adriatic as Byron once said. The walled centre is dazzling marble with a shock of red roof tiles and can often be wall to wall with people, but there's usually somewhere quiet you can escape to. If you are able to stay within or just outside the town you get to experience it once the day-trippers have left - in the summer evenings it's often an assortment of music and parties mingling together, in the early mornings it has a peace and tranquillity...