I’m not a fan of buzzwords, especially when it comes to travel. “Experiential,” “curated,” “transformational…” Labels like these often dictate what the traveler should be getting out of the experience, ironically building limits around what is and isn’t possible on a trip. An experience that embraces the individual gets lost. In contrast, the most important outcome at Backroads is that our guests have the freedom and support to seize unexpected opportunities, to go whatever pace feels right at any given moment, to craft their own adventure with no limits or boundaries and have a genuine, one-of-a-kind experience.
Since very early in the Backroads days, we have run annual staff rides that gather our employees in one place for a multi-day adventure. These trips get everyone in the same space after being spread out across the globe for much of the year to revel in our strong community and just plain have fun together. Last month, it took place in Vietnam–right in the middle of one of the biggest typhoons in decades.
Expanding Backroads internationally is a tale of necessity, entrepreneurialism, and of course, adventure! My bet is that many of you will relate, as you might be growing your own companies, trying to connect with someone from a very different culture, or fondly remembering your own international adventures.
Over the decades, we’ve learned a thing or two from our guests, our own excursions and our intrepid leaders. While I could write a book on our evolution, I’ll narrow it down to a brief(ish) list of my favorite improvements in recent years.
How do you narrow down days of hiking with your favorite people–amid some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable–into a “top 3” list? It’s not easy. But I always appreciate tips from other travelers to help me make my travel decisions, so here we go…
At the end of a typical Backroads day, I find myself well fed, happily tired and awe-inspired by what I just experienced. I drafted this blog from a hotel balcony in Dinard, just across an estuary from St. Malo, reflecting on yet another one of those wonderful days. What particularly struck me about the day was how much my kids learned without even knowing the trip was actually educational. I’m sneaky that way.
I just returned from a biking trip through Brittany and Normandy and hiking trip in the Alps with extended family and was once again reminded of the ways a vacation like this brings families together.
Backroads has been offering family trips since before I had kids (and my oldest is now 22). Why did we start them? Well, Backroads is just such a naturally positive, amazing environment for families to have a great time together that it didn’t take us being rocket scientists to see their potential. Once my wife, Liz, and I had our own kids, the beauty of designated family trips became even more obvious.
I truly believe that an active lifestyle has a profound impact on overall health and our ability to rebound from setbacks. So, what are some of the easiest ways to stay active, regardless of age or ability level?
In the 38 years since I founded Backroads, I’ve found a great deal of pride in knowing we deliver the very best active travel experiences. I’m passionate about what we do and what we stand for. No matter who you travel with, you deserve the best possible trip. If you ask the right questions, and hold your responders to their answers, you are much more likely to be successful. Here are the top questions to ask when choosing a biking, hiking or multisport adventure.
Mixed abilities, mixed interests, mixed goals, or maybe mixed inclinations. Whatever label we put on it, this is one of the key quality factors that differentiate Backroads: choice. You choose where you want to go, who you want to travel with, what activities you want to enjoy – and for how long or how far. The leaders are not there to decide your day, but to see what you want to do and help make it happen.
We’re outfitting our bikes with the top-of-the-line Garmin Edge Explore 1000 on Biking Trips in Europe, North America and Hawaii in 2016–included in your trip at no additional cost! How does it work? You simply show up and your Backroads bike will be set up with a Garmin Edge Explore 1000, pre-loaded with all the routes on your trip.
The other day a guest asked me how we’re able to hire such amazing leaders with such consistently exemplary values. He then asked whether we specifically recruited for values. Which prompted me to review the criteria we use to screen leaders. Guess what–no “values” were listed. Plenty of leadership, guest service, judgment, motivation, teamwork, ability to connect with guests and all of the obvious language, active lifestyle and mechanical inclination type criteria. And about 40 sub-criteria. But no values.
I do know a thing or two about getting kids on bikes, and doing so at the earliest possible juncture. Also into baby joggers, backpacks and the like, but that’s a whole other story. It started 19 years ago with my oldest child, now a college sophomore who has recently emerged from what I would call “my parents dragging me around the world” stage into a delightful appreciation for all things travel. What a wonderful metamorphosis. Have faith ye of teen children!