Our Travel Style

The Explore Up Close Experience

Trip Features


The Explore Up Close Experience

Explore Up Close is about finding an authentic sense of place, and uncovering the elements that make a place unique.  Our travel style is characterized by backroads exploration, boutique lodging, audiences with local experts, private site visits, and a focus on discovering the local. Explore Up Close is a natural fit for curious and adventurous travelers, and for organizations – located anywhere – that seek deeply engaging travel experiences.

Delve into our signature trip features:

How We Roll

Our small group trips include comfortable travel by high-roof van (in the U.S.); and by 9-passenger mini-bus when abroad. Even when traveling by bus with larger groups, we often go where the crowds don’t – a vital part of our travel experience.

Boutique Inns & Lodging

Our trips typically feature boutique lodging that are a trip highlight for our travelers – full of character and history, and located in lovely settings. These family-owned inns and boutique hotels feature a high level of hospitality for our travelers: gourmet breakfasts and afternoon tea – or cocktails – in the garden; exploring the grounds and cozy spaces, and sharing conversations with our local hosts give us a sense of home in a new place.

Meet the locals

Our intentional, relaxed travel pace brings us face to face with local folks along the way. From private site visits and planned encounters with local experts – historians, artisans, winemakers, naturalists, and more . . . to casual encounters, the human side of our journey enriches our experience.

Backroads Bliss

The backroads are our window into a new environment; they let us “see how people live.”  From Kentucky horse farms and Old Florida estates to mountain vistas and splendid rural drives, we encounter the diversity of place. These smaller roads hold a great proportion of interesting stories and palpable connections to the past and to the natural world.  We look forward to the fun of discovering what lies around the next curve, and there’s plenty of serendipity to be found along the way.

The Right Pace

Travel should be invigorating and refreshing, not exhausting.  We plan for a daily mix of organized group activities and touring; with time to relax and recharge, or explore on your own.  Longer trips typically feature multi-night stays in each hotel, which optimizes relaxation and deepens our sense of “getting to know” a place.

A safe, welcoming travel experience

The safety and comfort of our travelers is always our top priority. We will always try to accommodate the needs of our travelers, and our experienced team is prepared to assist you however possible. Our travelers find that our small group experience offers great flexibility to accommodate your preferred activity and comfort levels.

What People Are Saying

“I have lived in South Carolina for 15 years and didn’t know about many of the places you highlighted. I can’t wait to visit some of the towns and special sites you covered.”

– Client Name

“Explore Up Close provides the ultimate travel experience with a boutique, personalized touch. A mix of learning, exploring, relaxation, as well as great company from our fellow travelers and guides!”

– Client Name

“I’ve traveled extensively and have never had a trip that felt as intimate and custom-tailored as this. The planning, flexibility, and attention to detail were second to none.”

– Client Name

“The level of professionalism, our guides’ extensive knowledge of French history, their ability to tailor outings to our individual interests — I could go on and on. Explore Up Close provided us with a top-shelf trip of a lifetime. Thank you, Caroline and Chumley!”

– Client Name

“If you want to travel, but need an expert to plan the perfect trip for you, I highly recommend this father-daughter team! Not only did we enjoy some beautiful cities and landscapes, we learned so much history. They are memory makers!”

– Client Name

“You certainly know your stuff. Being a hiker, and new to South Carolina, this information is a treasure trove.”

– Client Name