Why Do We Do What We Do
For an individual looking to travel the sky appears to be the limit nowadays. If one has the necessary money, ambition and urge for exploration or adventure there are unlimited options out there. And by out there I mean available through work, credit-card companies, social clubs, Insurance companies, schools or colleges, military and veteran’s organizations etc. And let’s not forget the great invention of the internet. There are so many travel sites online that a simple search for a destination vacation can lead to days of sifting through, reading, comparing and evaluating all the different options and offers.
As a travel agent I can’t tell you how many times people call me or come into my office lamenting that they did some research online, and as a direct result ended up completely overwhelmed, utterly confused and tired of the whole thing. A joyous occasion has turned into a chore and major headache.
One question that comes up frequently in the early stages of building a relationship with a new client, is whether to book an independent or escorted vacation. The answer truly depends on the clients. If the clients want to visit an unfamiliar destination, enjoy touring but are more comfortable with a group and pre-set itinerary perhaps an escorted trip will do the trick. If they are adventurous, outgoing, curious and more seasoned travelers, independent travel seems to be the better option.
But every now and then I find people who can fall into either category. They don’t like big tour groups, some escorted tours can have as many as 40+ participants. Escorted tours can also have rigid itineraries, I always picture the tour director with a whistle in the morning “herding” his group on the bus. Some itineraries are whirlwind vacations with visits to 6 or 7 countries in 12 days. Good Grief, who will ever be able to remember which church it was, looking at vacation shots upon returning home or what restaurant served the amazing dinner with the fantastic wine? But those same people are also not 100% comfortable with traveling outside their home country, to a place with different customs and a foreign language, completely on their own. There is a broad swath of people who want the input of an organized tour without the rigidity and masses. They want, what we call, a "gently guided" tour. These are people I think should take a look at the tours Russ and Elke's European Travel offers.
Russ and I have always been very independent travelers and love to explore the local culture, food and history. We try to blend in with the locals and adopt many of their customs while traveling. For example: We always ask a local where they go out to eat, which restaurants they take their families too or where the best food can be found in town. We show interest in their lives and opinions and have often been rewarded with the most delicious meals, somewhere off the beaten path and less touristy. Other times we have been invited to homes or to local hang-outs to dive deeper into the local culture. We have also learned that eating later at night in Europe also guarantees a more authentic experience.
Over the years Russ and I have experienced some fantastic places, people and food/wine. Out of our love for travel developed the idea to create very exclusive, intimate and interesting itineraries and let our clients experience, taste, smell, touch and hear what has given us so much joy in our travels. We thought it was important to keep it small, our groups consist of only six clients and the two of us, for all our tours. This way we can pay attention to every detail, have a closer relationship with our travel companions and are able to focus on what’s most important to show our clients a really great time. Every tour we do is completely customized from the moment we pick our clients up at the airport to the moment they depart. Things can be done more efficiently since we don’t have to worry about loading a huge motor coach before we can go anywhere. Small group travel also makes it easier to pick our beautiful and unique accommodations, which are exclusive, charming and cater to the comfort and needs of our clients.
With careful research we approach our dining choices. Again this comes from personal experience. Russ and I love good food from fresh local produce and even cook for our little groups on occasion during some of our tours. One of our favorite pastimes in our home is to spend hours together in the kitchen, preparing homemade meals either for our little family or for a dinner party we are hosting. Russ calls it “making love in the kitchen” and you can often taste the love in the end product.
Our love for travel is ever present and we will make our clients small group experience a memorable one. If you are looking for something a little different, look no longer, let us gently guide you through the most beautiful country sites, bring you back thousands of years in history and give you the opportunity to make new friends for life.