As a long-time Tour Director with Starr, I am a real advocate for traveling solo, especially on our wonderfully-planned bus tours. So much so, that I wrote an article about it – “I Want To Be Alone…Really” – to encourage more solo traveling. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, too often people are held back from traveling because they don’t have a traveling companion due to lack of interest, time, and/or money. Apprehensions include safety, being alone at meal times, having no one to converse with, or feeling like a “third wheel.” I know these are traveling myths since facilitating multiple tours and observing our guests from the Tour Director’s seat. However, I decided to change my seat to test “solo-ness” by booking a Starr bus tour and traveling by myself.
I made my reservation for one on the Vermont Valentine at the Brandon Inn this past February. What better way to test traveling solo, than to book what most people would construe as a “couples only tour!”
With reading material and crossword puzzles in hand, I boarded the motorcoach with excitement and anticipation. First, to test my traveling solo theory and, secondly to visit our Green Mountain State in the throes of winter. I quickly nestled in my seat at the back of the bus, arranged all of my traveling needs, and watched eagerly as one couple after another couple took their seats. I was right. This was the perfect tour to test traveling solo.
As we made our way, I was happy to pull out my reading material for a time, check my emails, and close my eyes—after all, this was a mini get-away for me too! It felt good to be “alone.” CHECK!
It was at our lunch stop that I noticed a group of traveling companions walking towards me. Could it be? There were three? As it turned out, I was not the only solo onboard. Another woman, who had recently lost her husband took the plunge at the insistence of her son and booked this “couples” tour. A husband and wife embraced this party of one not only for that meal but for others as well. CHECK!
The historic Brandon Inn provided every opportunity for guests to mingle from group meals in the dining room to entertainment and fireside chats in the spacious living room while watching nature at its finest—snowing. There was much chatter and laughing and sharing! CHECK!
The highlight for all of us was the ride through the woods on a horse-drawn sleigh! It was a Hallmark moment! Seating was not a problem as there were seats for two and three which worked out perfectly for myself, my fellow solo traveler and our Vermont guide. We huddled under the thick blanket as we sang, “Over the river and through the woods. . .” CHECK!
Riding back home on the motor coach was, for me, a lot different than going. I chose to put my reading material and crossword puzzles aside, and spent the entire time talking and laughing with my new found-friends and seatmates. Yes, they were a couple, but we shared our grandchildren’s pictures, our shopping deals, and future Starr tour plans. We exchanged contact information and looked forward to staying in touch. CHECK!
As far as feeling safe and secure—we were all cared for professionally by Lucille George, our Tour Director, and Bud Cartwright, our driver, on Starr’s state-of-the-art motor coaches. CHECK!
As I get back to my Tour Director’s seat, I look forward to seeing you all during our 2019 travel season! CHECK! CHECK!