Around our home here in Porto, the COVID-19 lockdown of March/April/May 2020 certainly proved inspiring. During that time, we focused on preparing a new offer for prospective clients and friends who dream of European travel some day in the future. The focus of today’s post is to discuss the gestation of that idea, and our hopes for how it may blossom in the future.
As many of us probably did, I started contacting acquaintances, former colleagues and friends from time immemorial to check in with them, catch up, and gather perspectives on what they were facing during these unprecedented times. One conversation really stuck with me though. In it, a high school friend and I discussed the nostalgia of youth, the feeling of wanderlust, and the opportunity for growth that only travel allows. I realised that my friend may not necessarily be alone in her thoughts and desires for a unique adventure; perhaps there were others quietly wishing to experience a renewed connection to a desire they once held in their youth.
The most vulnerable statement she made was that she would love to push forward on an new adventure, but that, inwardly, she was really quite scared to do so. This instantly spurred thoughts of how to help those who have may the desire, yet lack the will. To act as a ‘guide’ of sorts, yet still remain attuned to the needs of the visitor.
I thought back to 2012, when I shepherded my father (then 60) around Thailand with nothing but our backpacks and the call of the open road. It was a memorable experience, especially for him. He was grieving the death of his second wife, and seemed a bit stuck. I’ve long been a fan of giving the gift of experience (or memory) over material goods, and one of the best gifts I could have given him at the time was an experience that helped focus him outside of his grief; a gift that may help remind him of his connection with life and the wideness of possible experiences in the world. He placed his pride aside, trusting in his son to help arrange his travel needs. As a result, he became a more-experienced traveller. What’s more, he was able to do so in a way that kept him both safe, reasonably comfortable, and that allowed him to face important decisions for the next phase of his life. It didn’t hurt that he left Thailand with a number of stories to tell upon his return to the US! For me, I look back in fondness to the experience of backpacking Thailand with my Dad while he still had the health to do so.
These same opportunities for memory creation lie at the heart of our company ethos. We are a niche travel agency. We do not ‘sell’ pre-packaged deals that can be repeated ad nauseum. Rather, we take an ‘experiential’ approach; ergo, we tailor every travel package to the client, thereby helping ensure that they experience the things they value. We strive to facilitate the memories they desire to create. Please note that we are only able to facilitate experiences in Portugal/Spain at this time.
So, there it is! This very special package sings the solitary chord of ‘unlived experience’ by offering clients a chance to follow up on a desire they had in their youth, and to finally live it out in reality. It offers a chance to re-define their mid-life by experiencing a ‘quest’ in a safe, yet tangible way. It is also intended to be an ‘educational’ experience, allowing for increased confidence in travel planning, engagement with the physicality of backpacking, and a gentle adaptation to a brand new style of ‘tourism’. We more we approach the experience as travellers, the more we gain from the experience overall.
Some suggestions for a successful experience include:
Assemble a group of 6-10 people interested to travel together
Select a specific path, route and itinerary (e.g. Path of Awareness with Gastronomic route via the North by Northwest itinerary)
Choose a time of year to travel (tip: shoulder season is always cheaper, and cooler)
Include any experiential suggestions the group may desire
As this kind of package requires a fair amount of dialogue between planners and clients, be sure to allow enough time for planning a number of eventualities. Last-minute ideas, while fun, can complicate a trip. We can, however, plan for elements of spontaneity within the trip.
Please view the complete brochure and contact us to discuss your dreams of European travel.