Italy never ceases to amaze. Just when you think there’s little more to discover, this place offers ancora di più (more and better). As the regional manager for Backroads’ trips in Italy, I’m no stranger to the country’s diverse regions. Nevertheless, as we sought to craft new itineraries in the heart of “the Boot,” I was amazed when Italy revealed an endless array of quaint villages and stunning landscapes waiting to be explored. As you’ll hopefully soon see for yourself, the addition of Monti Sibillini National Park and the neighboring village of Norcia to our Walking & Hiking Trip in Tuscany and Umbria is a true bonus.
A great way to prepare for a Backroads trip is by joining a local spin class, such as SoulCycle, Flywheel or Cyclebar. But what if you want to get that spin class experience on your own? Hop on the bike at your local gym or in your garage and get moving–we’ve created a spin class playlist just for you!
This year I had the honor of attending my first 100th birthday party. Actually, my Great Uncle Mike is the only 100-year-old I’ve ever met. But age is only half of this story… Uncle Mike’s 100th birthday party was a bike ride! 100 years of age is a crazy thing to wrap your head around. But can you imagine being 100 and balancing on a bike, managing traffic, flying down hills?!
I think it goes without saying for most of us Backroads folks that we love to travel. We all have our own reasons, our own styles, our own lists of places we’ve been, places we’ll return to and places we’re longing to explore. Regardless of why, how and where we go, many of us share the desire to explore and to connect–or reconnect–to nature, to history, to cultures different from our own. To our ancestors, our families, our partners, ourselves, to each other. Or maybe just to a beach chair or to something other than the internet or the hustle and bustle of our day-to-day lives.
We always think of traveling as a way to discover the world and to learn about different cultures. For me, travelling is also about returning to my roots and rediscovering who I am. Leading the Active Gourmet trip in Tuscany is a chance to see my homeland through the eyes of our guests and to learn new things about myself. After all, food and wine are just catalysts. In Italy it’s all about sharing. And talking. Very loudly!
Is there anything better than hearing your teenager tell you that you made a great decision (words you likely don’t often hear)? Better yet is hearing that they had the best vacation ever and it was with you–wow! The key is to get everyone involved and make most of the decisions before you go, so the choices you do make on your trip are as simple as what to eat off the menu.
Travel offers a deeper understanding of the world and I try as often as I can to make the leap from tourist to Insider. And that requires a commitment to always wanting to know and see more. To always asking questions and pausing long enough to listen to the answers, whether they come or not. It’s just as much about the people attempting to provide the answer as it is about what exactly they have to say. And the folks that might answer honestly tend not to be the ones on the main avenue selling trinkets or day tours.
These books, along with an insatiable desire to explore, led me down an unconventional path to world travel, exciting (and sometimes insane) adventures and an active lifestyle that I parlayed into a career as a Backroads Trip Leader. So which stories have inspired me to explore, seek adventure, change the world for the better and do so confidently? Here are my top five.
I love cycling and pushing my physical limits, but I’ll admit that my training tends to drop off around the holidays. Winter weather hits, I don’t eat as healthy as I’d like and social engagements take up most of my weekends. By the time spring rolls around, I want to kick it into high gear to get in shape for my summer cycling season. I start doing my typical after-work loops and venture a bit farther away from home for longer rides on the weekends. But this routine can become…routine. That’s why I helped develop Backroads’ new Spring Training Biking trips.
Last week our Cuba Trip Expert Lara and I returned from our annual Cuba “dry run,” where we prepared for our upcoming Backroads Cuba trips starting in November. We were once again reminded that the vibrant personalities, artists and friends we encounter on this trip make an impact that lasts a lifetime. Cuba is changing so rapidly that the time to visit is now, and our Cuba Insider Trip is the best way to experience it!
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” For me, this is travel. As a soon-to-be junior at Wake Forest University, constantly bogged down by the pressures that come with college, the opportunity to travel is something that I could never turn down. I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in a family that makes travel a high priority (active travel in particular), but it wasn’t until recently that I began to fully understand why I appreciate travel so much.
Here’s the first thing you should know: how you perform at high altitude can have very little to do with your fitness level. So let yourself off the hook for that one. Of course, being fit and healthy always increases your resilience and helps you recover more quickly from challenges. So it doesn’t hurt. Get fit. But don’t beat yourself up if you’ve done all your stair training and still find yourself breathless in Iquitos.
As a die-hard fan and season ticket holder for the Oakland A’s, I can usually be found in the bleachers behind our star left fielder Yoenis Cespedes, who defected from Cuba in 2011. I’m a big geek when it comes to baseball, and this was just one of many reasons I booked a Backroads trip to Cuba. Before I knew it, I was on my way to visit Cespedes’ homeland. I was pretty excited to visit the Palmar de Junco ballpark, where the first official game of Cuban baseball was played. I even got to chat with some up-and-coming players and meet Rigoberto Rosique…
My Facebook newsfeed of late is chock-full of photos and status updates from my Backroads colleagues residing in far-flung locations. I see gorgeous sunsets in Costa Rica. The hustle and bustle of city life in India. Tumbling Hawaiian waterfalls and spectacular New Zealand landscapes. Me? I spend my winters living in a boys’ dorm in snow-covered Wisconsin. I find this rather humorous. In place of gregarious co-leaders, my building-mates are 120 teenage boys.