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    Expert Trip Leaders

Meet Some of Our Leaders

Great leaders are the key to an unforgettable active travel experience—Backroads sets the standard by staffing three leaders* per trip. Guests tell us constantly that our Trip Leaders they've ever traveled with, rating their performance consistently at 9.7 out of 10 on post-trip surveys. We make sure those scores stay up there by running the most rigorous recruiting, training and guest satisfaction programs in the business. We work year-round to find and train these talented people—we hired only 8% of leader applicants in 2016.

Backroads Trip Leader Eli Barnes

Eli Barnes

Trip Leader Since 2011

From Costa Rica to Panama, Catalonia to Cuba, Eli has an enviable selection of Backroads destinations under his belt. So what brought Eli to Backroads? "I was looking for a way to combine my experience in hotel and restaurant management, tourism and hospitality with my love for travel. I looked at many outfitters, but Backroads stood out for its high service standards, which are on par with mine. My job is the perfect combination of fun, great service and work."

Backroads Trip Leader Kate Reichle

Kate Reichle

Trip Leader Since 2010

Hailing from Northern California, Kate Reichle has lead trips in Tuscany, Brittany & Normandy, Italy & Slovenia and Hawaii. "I'm thrilled to help Backroads guests experience different cultures and locales. The way we connect you a place—on foot and by bike—is really special." Kate's helped us craft an itinerary that explores every side of the Big Island, from its 13 different climate zones- to its unique island culture. "Our guests truly experience Hawaii—smelling, hearing, breathing and living it."

Backroads Trip Leader Paul Smith

Paul Smith

Trip Leader Since 1990

A history major and a former minor league baseball player, Paul Smith has led more trips than anyone in Backroads' history. Married to another long-time Backroads leader—and now a dad to two sons—Paul has been sharing his passion for China, Bali, New Zealand and the Northwest for nearly two decades and looks forward to new discoveries with every visit. His attention to detail, witty humor, knowledge of the local haunts and uncanny ability to discern the needs of each guest is legendary.

Backroads Trip Leader Ken Brushett

Ken Brushett

Trip Leader Since 1997

Once Ken began working for Backroads, he's never looked back! His parents noticed early on that his life path was going to be a little different from most. From about the age of 12, he started reading National Geographic magazines and spent most of his time outdoors poking around and looking for "critters." He's earned degrees in Biology and Education and taught high school, but has found that leading Backroads trips combines his passion and love for adventure travel with education.

Backroads Trip Leader Tommaso Spinelli

Tommaso Spinelli

Trip Leader Since 2014

Tommaso was born in Italy in the small coastal town of Livorno. In contrast with the stereotype of Italians, he broke his mother's heart and moved to Rome right after high-school to attend the National Film School. Since then, his life has been on the move. He has lived and performed all over Italy and Europe. He became a University of Cambridge-certified teacher and started teaching English and public speaking, while translating plays and art exhibition catalogues. Leading trips with Backroads was an education for Tommaso, as he became a master in bike mechanics, public speaking, driving, entertaining and so much more. He enjoys engaging guests in conversations about food, wine, theater and history while hiking down the Grand Canyon or on a great ride.

Backroads Trip Leader Zuzana Salajova

Zuzana Salajova

Trip Leader Since 2006

Growing up in a post-communist country, to Zuzana, the rest of the world seemed very inaccessible and mysterious. She dreamt about traveling to these distant destinations one day. Through Backroads, guiding people through amazing countries and sharing her knowledge of the culture, history, and food of each destination has made her dream come true. She loves taking people on trips in Eastern and Central Europe and showing them how many prejudices and myths about this part of the world are dissolved by a better understanding of the history and culture.

* Over 95% of Backroads guests on scheduled trips travel with three Backroads trip leaders or support staff, and two or more vehicles. We even add a fourth leader for meet and move days on some of our most logistically complex trips with the most guests to ensure everyone enjoys the best possible support. On less than 5% of scheduled trips, the number of guests is small enough that we can maintain our trademark high service standards with just two leaders and one van.