People & Stories

Get to know the lucky winners of our Trafalgar Unlocked Awards

The Trafalgar Unlocked Awards are back! This year we received a whopping 4,006 entries, and from those we hand-selected just 15 lucky past guests to join us on a winners’ trip to Costa Rica. Later this year they’ll be floating through the rainforest, spotting exotic wildlife, tanning on golden beaches and connecting with locals in the Central American country. 

We already introduced you to the fabulous 15 over here, touching on how they felt to have their stories chosen as the winners. So today we’re diving deeper into the inspiring stories submitting by five of our lucky winners.

PREVIEW THE TRIP: Costa Rica Eco Adventure

“For the first time in so many years, we got to be… the intrepid travellers… not someone’s Mum or wife”

Katherine McIntosh, the Australian solo traveler who found friendship

“I had always wanted to travel but having a daughter at 22 put a pause on my dream,” says Katherine. “When my youngest daughter got selected to go on a school exchange to Vancouver, I realised I could make my life-long dream of seeing Canada and the Rockies come [true]. 

“I booked the “Iconic Rockies and Western Canada” tour. The dates worked out perfectly, finishing on the day before Skye’s exchange was to finish. 

“At the age of 54 – being on a budget and travelling alone – I booked twin share. Little did I know, that I would meet my roommate Sharene, who is now one of my dearest friends. Sharene and I hit it off right from the get go. 

“Our fellow travellers could believe we had only just met on the trip. We got to experience this awesome trip of a lifetime together.

“We had both left families back in Melbourne, so for the first time in so many years, we got to be Kate and Sharene, the intrepid travellers we wanted to be, not someone’s Mum or wife. 

“Meeting our fellow travellers from around the world was incredible, such a variety of life experiences but everyone had the common interest in seeing everything the world has to offer. 

The tour [leaders], our guide Alex and driver Rebecca made the trip just as special as the stunning places we visited. We all keep in touch via WhatsApp and Sharene and I regularly catch up and dream about our next trip together. 

“Costa Rica was on the top of our list, then this competition came about. Some would say “it’s meant to be”. We both [had] our fingers crossed.”

VISIT THE ROCKIES: Iconic Rockies and Western Canada

READ NEXT: Meet the winners of the 2024 Trafalgar Unlocked Awards

“Greg and I are the type of travelers who want to see and experience, not lay on a beach”

Kaitlin Slaney, the adventurous American honeymooner in Ireland is one of our lucky winners

“My husband and I chose to celebrate our marriage in Ireland, and we loved every single moment of our trip,” says Kaitlin. “This was our first time traveling abroad, and it just seemed to be the perfect place for us. I have red hair. Greg’s last name is Slaney. 

“When we shared with our tour that we were on our honeymoon, we did get a mix of reactions. Congraulatory, of course, but we also got a mix of confusion. ‘Why aren’t you relaxing on the beach somewhere?’ 

“It does seem a bit unsual to be on a bus on your honeymoon, but we wouldn’t have changed it at all. Greg and I are the type of travelers who want to see and experience, not lay on a beach. And so, we chose to explore Ireland on tour! 

“We created so many beautiful memories that we cannot stop talking about. Our tour was wonderful. And our tour guide, Terry Blanchflower, was amazing! Our last evening on the tour was spent at Bunratty Castle in Limerick where we dined in an immersive castle banquet experience. Little did we know that guests were chosen to be Kings and Queens during this experience, and Terry knew all along. 

“He must have called ahead to inform the troupes that he had honeymooners that would be a perfect royal couple. We were so excited once we found out. 

“Terry said told us it was his pleasure and that this was a honeymoon gift from him. We had so much fun! Especially my husband. He played the role of King of Lanister very well. He ate it up! 

“We absolutely loved our trip to Ireland. We miss it everyday, and we have every intention of going back. Our hearts will forever be in Ireland!”

EXPLORE IRELAND WITH US: Best of Ireland & Scotland

“[When I] look back on that video of me, dancing in the streets of Rome and Venice, I know it won’t be the last time that I am there”

Josephine Perna, the Sicilian-American who found her roots is now one of our lucky winners

“My parents migrated here from Sicily and the ‘60s. Sicilian was my first language, [but at] 54 and I had never been to Italy prior – and it was always my dream,” says our past guest and Trafalgar Unlocked Awards winner Josephine.

“I’ve been divorced nine years and many people say that I shouldn’t travel alone. [But] last year I finally decided it was time for me to go to Italy. I got my passport and decided to go on my own. 

“It was the most amazing experience. I was able to communicate easily in northern and southern Italy. 

“Lino was my tour guide, which is the name of my father. I knew it was a sign that I should be there. 

“Now I want to do more solo travel, and Costa Rica. Ironically is one of the places I would love to go. 

“The video shows the happiness I felt in Rome. I enjoyed my entire vacation. And as I look back on that video of me, dancing in the streets of Rome and Venice, I know it won’t be the last time that I am there. 

“I would love to win this trip and be able to go on my second solo trip. I’m thankful to Trafalger for allowing me the opportunity to feel safe and a country when I was on my own, and to meet amazing people that were on my tour, including Lino, who was the best!”

EXPLORE THE SOUTH: ​​Colours of Sicily

“My mother had gifted me the same itinerary upon my high school graduation 56 years earlier!”

Rebecca Creek, continued her American family’s traditions with a Euro tour

“I had planned to take my two oldest grandsons on a trip outside the United States upon their graduation from high school,” says Trafalgar Unlocked Awards winner Rebecca. 

“The trip for the oldest had been planned and booked for 2019, then COVID hit, which cancelled the plans. 

“So when it seemed safer to travel again, the second grandson had graduated from high school as well, so I decided to plan a trip for both at the same time. 

“We had a wonderful European Whirl, that truly opened their eyes to a different world view than they had previously – never having been outside the United States. 

“It was a wonderful trip full of all sorts of discoveries for them as well as a reconnecting for me, as my mother had gifted me the same itinerary upon my high school graduation 56 years earlier!”

EUROPE CALLING: European Whirl

“Floating down the Snake River in Wyoming and shouting echoes from the cliff-tops in Utah’s Canyonlands is hard to beat”

Dietmar Voss, the Australian who explored nine national parks on a “cowboy tour”

“Our unsurpassed special Trafalgar highlight commenced in Las Vegas, and the 15-day Scenic Parks Explorer tour in the USA was one continuous unbelievably awesome moment stretched in time, that will remain with us forever,” says Dietmar.

“We partied through the night as a precursor to journeying around some nine amazing National Parks in what we dubbed “Our Cowboy Tour” 

“We stomped our feet to the beat of country western music and acquired Texan hats to blend into the Jackson Hole rodeo. 

“There are so many highlights but to us who love American history, floating down the Snake River in Wyoming and shouting echoes from the cliff-tops in Utah’s Canyonlands is hard to beat. 

“Thanks also to the brilliant Trafalgar Travel Director and driver who made sure our enjoyment was 110%.”

TAKE YOUR OWN TOUR: Scenic Parks Explorer

Those are five of our lucky 15 Trafalgar Unlocked Awards winners. Have you been to Costa Rica? Leave us a comment…

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