I’ve been a Backroads Trip Leader for seven years and one of the most frequent questions I’m asked by my guests is, “What’s the life of a Backroads Trip Leader like?” It’s a simple question, but not an easy one to answer. When I applied for a leader position at Backroads, I had no idea of the complexity of this job and how much it goes beyond any regular work environment.
It might seem ironic to highlight the benefits of disconnecting from technology via an online blog, but I'm not here to say technology is bad. On the contrary, smart devices help us connect with others, allow for new learning, and can provide deeper insights into topics as diverse as politics and science. But when do the scales tip in the other direction? At what point does constant connectivity begin to do more harm than good?
A Backroads trip is unlike any other vacation. As an athlete all my life, and an avid CrossFitter, I want to remain active when I travel: hiking mountains, biking along the coast, kayaking hidden coves and exploring the scenic back roads of the world.
Active travel is immersive. It's tangible. It awakens every one of your senses. You're not on a tour bus with a window between you and what's around you. As Backroads founder Tom Hale puts it, "On foot or on a bike, you can really get a visceral sense of place. Without any filters, you're free to truly be where you are." In my experience, it doesn't matter if where you are is sitting at a roadside café sipping a perfect Italian espresso or hopping in the Backroads shuttle so you can freshen up before taking a tour of an Oregon brewery. The beauty of the Backroads approach to active travel is that you'll always have the freedom and flexibility to create your perfect adventure, with all the details and logistics planned to perfection by Backroads so that you can stay focused on what matters--the memories you're creating.
Yoga is already happening organically on many of our trips, and we see lots of guests stretching in preparation for an active day or unwinding well-used muscles before heading off to dinner. So, starting next year, we've enhanced some of our most popular itineraries with the option for guests to participate in a daily Backroads leader-led yoga class.
The world’s most stunning hiking trails, charming streets and cultural sites are begging you to explore them. Obtaining the right gear and trying it out beforehand will definitely help you get them most out of your hiking trip.
Martin surprised me with a six-day cycling trip to Hawaii's Big Island for my 60th birthday. What a great way to start a new decade - riding a bicycle in paradise!
The Florida Keys are a string of coral islands that stretch southwest from the end of the state. They were historically oriented toward the Caribbean, and a center for boat trade and commerce. Key West was the largest town in Florida and the richest per capita in the US. In the early 1900's, Henry Flagler connected them to the rest of Florida by railroad. Today, 42 bridges connect the archipelago, and many of Flagler's original bridges have been designated as part of the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail for biking, fishing and walking. The Seven Mile Bridge, south of Marathon, was an engineering marvel and the longest in the world when built.
When my kids were small, I poured over Backroads catalogs while they slept. I dreamed of exotic vacations where I’d bike through amazing scenery and eat better food than the boxed macaroni and cheese my children liked. But those were just pleasant daydreams.
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.