Connecting Through Travel
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.
This idea of connection has always been one of the things I find most inspiring about travel. And it’s one of the many reasons I enjoy working at Backroads.
Just to clarify: I do not spend all my time jet-setting around the world for a living. My job is based in our Berkeley headquarters, where I sit (or stand!) at a desk Monday through Friday and – among other tasks – research, write and coordinate the production of our trip itineraries. But from this vantage point, I have found myself thinking about travel in new and unexpected ways.
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.
For example, when writing about our Family Trips, I find myself thinking about traveling with my own family when I was a kid. I have flashbacks to a summer we spent living on a farm in Tuscany, and the young American family we met there, whom we later went to visit at their home in Rhode Island. Or to watching my father learn to play pétanque in Provence with men in the village, and listening to their good-natured laughter when he mistakenly used the term bien cuit (well-cooked) when he meant “well done!” after one of them made a good play. I love connecting to these memories while imagining other families creating their own on one of our trips.
Working at Backroads, I am also constantly reminded of how special group travel can be, the friendships that are formed by such a unique environment, and what the experience can mean to so many different people.
I think of my grandmother, who began to take these kinds of trips on her own after my grandfather passed away. She saw incredible places, shared remarkable experiences and made lasting friends. Ten years ago, I met some of these individuals at her memorial service. They had been strangers, some generations apart and living in different states, who spent a very short period of time traveling together. And there they were, in Chicago, honoring her as a very dear friend and connecting me to a part of my grandmother’s life that was all her own.
Inspired, I saved up and a few years later took my first trip with an organized group to Nepal. I was apprehensive at first, as I typically enjoy more independent travel. But I liked the idea of having someone else plan the details of this particular excursion, and of the support and sense of security that came with it. The trip was extraordinary – I found myself completely drawn in by the landscape and culture of the Himalayas and deeply connected to a part of the globe that had previously felt impossibly distant. I also made friends from around the world, some of whom have since visited me in California.
I must admit, working in the active travel industry gives me perpetual wanderlust. Finding ways to describe a bike route in Spain, trails in Costa Rica or a decadent dinner in Sicily have me constantly daydreaming about adventures past and future. I’m very lucky to have some trips on the horizon, but lately I’ve been considering myself more of an “armchair traveler.” Ironically, sitting still, I’ve never felt more connected to my love of travel and to the people I’ve met along the way.