Why do you take Backroads trips? This is a question that Trip Leaders often ask guests on the first night of the trip, along with why you chose that particular trip. Although highly valuable questions, as a Backroads leader, I'm more interested in asking a third question at the end of the trip:
How has your week with us influenced your life? I, as well as my colleagues, wonder what our guests will take with them and incorporate into their lives back home.
One of the top reasons I became a Backroads Trip Leader was to inspire others to be active in their daily lives and gain a deeper connection with the places they visit. And I just can't imagine that, with all of the distance covered, people met, food and drinks enjoyed, laughs, stories and adventures shared, their lives haven't been changed in some way. I know mine has.
So, have we been successful? I decided to ask many of my previous guests, who've traveled in such places as Tuscany, Dolomites, Slovenia, Holland & Belgium and the Rhine River. A huge thank you to everyone who responded! Each of your stories made me smile and my heart twinkle to know that yes, you have definitely carried your Backroads experience with you well beyond the day our trip ended.
Kerstin, Tuscany's Chianti Bike Tour
"One of the things I've incorporated into my bike rides after our trip has been to stop for a nice cup of espresso or cappuccino on my Bay Area bike rides (I think I know all the best coffee shops by now!). It's nice to smell the roses along the way a bit more and not just to focus on mileage, speed and training goals.
"Biking the hills of Tuscany in summer helped build a great foundation for my next adventure, which was to get into shape for Ironman Arizona, a triathlon with a 112-mile bike leg (which I completed in November)."
"It's difficult to say how we've embraced the Backroads experience. It keeps us young... we look forward to pushing ourselves, on our hikes and in cultural immersion... It reinforces our commitment to learning, beyond our college classes, beyond our borders... we especially look forward to the private evenings with Backroads local citizens, like the three nonne (grandmothers) in Tuscany and Mr. Dinh in Hué. They teach us to appreciate [our] everyday lives as well as the warm and interesting people to be found in all parts of the world.
"From the Tuscany trip, we have especially fond memories of the pizza night. It was magical! Recreating that feeling is the goal of our time spent with friends and family!"
"What changed was our approach to travel outside the US. Tuscany--and the Dolomiti adventure--confirmed that culture is not adequately captured in history books, guide books or museums. It has to be experienced."
Steve, Rhine River Cruise Bike Tour
"Where do I start 🙂 Prior to my very first Backroads trip (Sonoma Wine Country) I did spin classes in the gym and rode a mountain bike on the roads around my neighborhood. That trip caused me to sooooo fall in love with 'true' road riding that the day after I got back from California I went out and bought a road bike. That poor mountain bike has hardly been ridden since. The trip made me want to go seek out groups to ride with and to share my cycling experiences. Plus some girls made fun of my hairy blonde gorilla legs so I started shaving them... and have not stopped for 8 years now... So BR has been truly life-altering for me."
"Regarding both of our Backroads trips to Italy--they were incredible experiences. The Dolomites were extra special--I think because I have always loved hiking in the mountains and Marty had never experienced that. Once he went on the Dolomite adventure, he gained a real feel for why I love it so much. It was the absolute perfect way for him to branch out of his comfort zone.
"There is something about pushing oneself when it might be easier to quit, and doing it with lots of other people, that gives one a real sense of accomplishment and a desire to push even harder--even when it snows at the time wildflowers are supposed to be blooming!
"One more thing--experiencing a trip like that with friends from home enriches relationships just because of doing such unique and wonderful things together."
Michael, Tuscany Bike Tour
"Because of Backroads, I now have totally changed what I do on a vacation, namely more Backroad trips. But at home I now enjoy a far more varied menu and wine selection, and realize that vacations can be a source of education, growth and well-being."
"Before the trip, I was very worried about doing a group trip with strangers. Would we be herded around like those ridiculous tour guides with their flags? Would the people all be weird? As a single, would anyone talk to me? Get my drift. Backroads sure shattered my preconceived notions. I loved the trip. The activities each day were well curated to reflect Italy, to educate, and to be lots of FUN! We did so much in such a short time and traveling has never been so stress-free.
"I did make the chocolate cake recipe from Lorenza [at] Il Agriturismo Rigo. It was great, but not as good as that day at her table. There is just something about Italy; everything tastes better. I haven't attempted the pici, but I keep looking at the recipe and thinking that 'I can do this.' But I have incorporated pecorino cheese into EVERYTHING. I especially like the younger fresh cheese.
"Since the trip, I do a lot more walking. I want to get in better shape to do another trip without so much huffing. I also have this inner view of myself that I KNOW Italy. Crazy, but the trip immersed us in the back roads--the real Italy--and I like to think I know it better now."
"It seems that each time we go on one of these trips, we get positively soaked in at least one deluge of rain. My first response is always, 'This is not how I wanted to spend my vacation.' And then I accept it: 'Well, here I am in this amazing place and I'm just gonna get a little wet.' I invariably have the most memorable time of the trip overcoming my closed-mindedness and accepting and, ultimately, rejoicing in temporary discomfort. See attached photo of my mom, Josie and me heading off on a very wet ride in Alaska last year. Other than James, who took a different route, we were the only guests in our entire group who rode that day. I'd say I'm more open to new experiences and more comfortable putting myself in situations outside of my control thanks to my Backroads adventures."
James, Ann's husband
"Maybe you'll remember the day when you, Josie and I got caught in a sudden downpour. I saw an open garage door and Josie and I ducked beneath it. This older Italian gentleman came out, just delighted that we were there. He talked with me and Josie for 20-30 minutes. He didn't speak a word of English. Josie and I tried our French and Spanish. He was a lovely fellow but sadly we never understood a word. I really wish I'd known Italian, but it reminded me the power of non-verbal communication and generosity that is instilled in me today."