To understand the purpose of the Travel Club, you need to know the motivation. It’s personal, like most things what motivate us to make a change and help others.
Although this story is mostly about women, because that’s what Travel Charm was about in the beginning, please know it now relates to all travellers.
I am still happy to accommodate women-only trips for those that feel more comfortable that way, but I am by no means excluding men from this club.
Not being one, I cannot begin to know what men need or want in the way of support, advice or assistance when travelling.
But I am happy to have you along and enjoy your company.
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The Story Behind My Exclusive Travel Club
I was sitting at a café bar in Orvieto, Italy, just down the road from the apartment we were staying in for five nights.
It was late August. The days were hot, and we were tired. My family of four – myself, husband and two kids had been travelling for almost two months starting in the USA and then around Europe. Italy was the last country on our family itinerary before I flew to Athens and then Santorini and the rest of the family flew home.
It had been a great trip in terms of experiencing new and beautiful destinations and seeing my family in Holland, but it was becoming evident that my marriage was not in good shape, and I was avoiding thinking about what would await me when I returned home.
I was sipping a cold white wine, perfect on a hot day. I was hoping to chat about our day. I had been out and about with the kids, doing a bit of shopping, buying food to cook for dinner and exploring the markets. He had been in the apartment on the laptop, playing games.
There was no conversation as he continued to “check things” on the laptop using the opportunity to connect to the café’s wifi.
As I looked around, I spied an elderly lady sitting quietly in her window across the street, peering out between partially opened shutters. She watched life going on below her window. A daily ritual perhaps. I turned to mention it to my husband. But sadly, I realised there was not going to be any conversation or interest.
At that moment, I thought how wonderful it would be to be with a group of like-minded ladies, to share a wine and chat about our day, our experiences and plan the next day. To talk with excitement and appreciation about our travels and share our thoughts and laughter.
How I longed for that companionship at that moment.
And so, the idea of Travel Charm was borne. And it never left. Throughout my separation three months later, and my subsequent divorce, Travel Charm began.
But because it needed to be a viable business, travelling with like-minded women just for the sake of travelling, was not going to pay the bills. You see, I am not a Travel Agent and didn’t want to become one. I am a Travel Planner and was reliant on charging fees, instead of receiving commissions.
And so, even before my dream got off the ground, it changed and morphed into a variety of other services that would bring in an income.
But it’s not what I wanted. And I didn’t have the same passion that I had for my original dream.
After all those years, and all that time learning who I am and what I want and riding the roller coaster that my life became after my divorce, I want to get back to what I really want, what I felt on that day in Orvieto.
I want to discard all I learnt about small business from well-meaning business coaches, mentors and business colleagues who kept telling me, and still tell me that I need to charge for the service.
I was even told off once by a networking host for catering to women only.
I listened over and over again, changing my services and plans this way and that.
I have hosted groups – locally and overseas. And it’s not what I want.
No More Group Tours
So now I am making changes. It’s time to go back to the beginning and work on what I wanted all along.
As you know, I host overseas Small Group Tours or at least was trying to. But something doesn’t feel right.
I don’t like being the “boss”. I want to be one of you. I want to travel with “friends”, meet new people, share experiences with others who are as passionate about travel as I am.
But I still want to keep giving the value like I would on any of my trips. Like planning the itinerary and researching activities and things to see and do.
I want to help others find friends to travel with that have the same interests, age group or travel styles. I can’t do that with paid tours.
I hate organised tours! I have no idea why I wanted to provide something that I would never have joined myself.
And the bottom line is I want to make travel more affordable because I know the gift that travel is and how life-changing it can be.
And let’s face it you don’t always want to go to the places I want to go or do all the things that I plan as a group.
So, what did I decide to do?
I am going to start a Travel Club. Something passionate travellers can join. For those that resonate with my travel style, you can join me on some of my travels. For those that don’t, you will have the opportunity to connect with other travellers in the club — perhaps organising to travel together.
There will be meetups around the world so even if we don’t travel together, we can meet. Enjoy some time swapping stories.
Personally, this is what I am going to do –
I am going to travel once or twice a year, sometimes staying in apartments and self-contained accommodation. Or cheaper hotels or B&B’s. Possibly even some glamping. Whatever takes my fancy.
I will take my time in each destination because I am a huge fan of Slow Travel and I will be taking cooking classes, go on early morning walks and taking a gazillion photos to use when I get home. I will find a favourite café where I will get to know the staff, and them me, and I will buy locally grown food and cook up a storm in the apartment.
I will join walking tours learning about the history of my new destination, or a food tour where I can try local cuisine.
I will find antique markets and stores. And I will shop myself silly finding “treasures” in Op Shops and Flea Markets because I love the thought of preloved treasures made useful again and the idea of unique and quirky souvenirs from my travels.
I will write – a journal, blog posts, ideas and inspirations.
I will sketch (maybe) and flex my creative muscles. I will imagine living in that location forever and think about all the possibilities.
Because that’s what travelling is for me.
If that style of travel resonates with you, you can join me. If I have an apartment with a spare room, I will offer it to you. Or I can find out if there are other rooms available or other hotels close by if that’s what you would prefer. So, we have our own space, but still, do things together when we want.
The more, the merrier right?
And travelling with more people can mean saving on private transport, accommodation, tours and more. It means that we can share ideas on what to see. Possibly doing things we never imagined.
It means we will have company on long travel days and someone else to stress out with when the train is late.
We can be each other’s company, strength if we need it, guidance and support. And travelling with others is a great way to see things differently through another person’s eyes, get us out of our comfort zones.
We can be ourselves for a while – not partners, or mothers, or daughters or aunts or colleagues. We can just be us. We need and deserve that.
And even if no one wants to join me, I am going regardless. At the end of the day, I want to travel. If you want to join me, then please do, I would love your company. But if no one does, I will happily enjoy another solo adventure.
And maybe we can organise a meetup, a catch up on the road.
How will Cindy’s Exclusive Travel Club Work?
Join the private Facebook Group, and I will keep you informed on how the club is progressing.
When I am ready, you will have the opportunity to join me on trips I propose. I will post a link to my website that will outline my itinerary and proposed dates.
You will let me know if you are interested. I will add all interested parties to a private Messenger Chat (or similar) where we can discuss details of the trip, proposed travel dates and other relevant information.
Once a week, I will post a [NOTICEBOARD] post where you can seek a travel companion to join you on a trip you are taking. Or you can form your own group of interested travellers, for example, people that love cruising.
I will regularly update the format and rules of the group. If something isn’t working, let me know, and I can review it and change if necessary.
If you have an idea you would like to introduce, then contact me to discuss.
Cost and Fees
You might ask what’s in it for me?
I will be charging a fee of $300 per person for anyone that wants to come travel with me and wants me to organise the whole thing for them including tailoring the itinerary to suit them, researching, arranging and booking all the components of the trip.
But that’s making money from the trips, you say!
Well, yes. But researching, planning and booking travel takes a lot of time. And at the end of the day I am a business person who does need to make an income and although I do have other income streams, planning someone else’s travel does take me away from working on those.
But, for those of you who are happy to make your own bookings and follow along with my itinerary or change it to suit yourself, you will pay what I pay.
You will have the opportunity to plan and book everything yourself using the links and information I provide or by doing your own research. It’s that easy.
I will post my proposed itinerary. I will list the accommodation I am interested in (and the number of rooms and dates available) and include the links for you to check it out. Once we confirm our travel dates, you will be able to book your own accommodation, airfares and transport.
Who are these trips for?
Those that like independence but also like companionship. You can join me through the day on whatever activity I am doing or choose to do whatever you want.
Or you may be someone who wants to try independent travel (not organised tours) or even solo travel but is not quite ready yet.
Why not use one of my trips as a testing ground? You can dip your toe in so to speak. Head off for the day by yourself. Get a taste of what it’s like to travel alone.
If you don’t even know where to start planning, I will help you. I can also go out for the day with you, and you can guide me, so you can build your confidence in navigating your way around.
These groups can be your safety net. How many opportunities would you get to “practice” solo travel?
If you hate the restrictions of group tours, then come with us and don’t be restricted. I will have an itinerary for myself and anyone else that wants to follow it. But you can choose to do your own thing.
Staying in one place for longer will allow you to go off and explore as much or as little as you like.
You have so many choices – spend time on your own, enjoy the companionship of others if you want. Whatever you want to do.
Join my exclusive FREE TRAVEL CLUB. Let's travel the world together, as friends.
What a Trip with Me Might Look Like
- Join free walking tours (paying a small tip, of course)
- Seek local recommendations on places to visit, where to eat and things to do
- Experience life a little like a local by shopping at the local supermarket and frequenting markets
- Walk more, to discover more of our destination
- Sitting in a café, people watching and relaxing over a coffee or wine
- Slow travel– we would stay in fewer places, but for more extended periods
- You would pay for things you wanted to do as you did them
There would be no:
- Private transfers, we would navigate the train system. Or we can share a taxi when we get there if we feel like it.
- No meals included. Self-catering might be an option, but don’t worry, I can cook and don’t mind cooking for a crowd. Or we can buy our meals as we go along.
- Accommodation would be cheap, but clean and I always look for excellent service. But no hostels!
My travel style is casual. Some things are planned, others are not.
I promise to:
- Plan a fantastic itinerary for as little cost as possible.
- Be your support 24/7 (if you need it).
- Cook if required.
- Be a travel companion if needed.
- Give you loads of ideas of things you can do.
- Assist you to organise your activities and even join you if you want me to.
Do you have to be Australian to be part of the Travel Club?
I recently did a poll in one of my groups and asked what was more important age or similar interests? Similar interests won hands down.
And I think the same goes for nationality.
What is most important is Travel Style. If our styles, don’t match, then we will not be a good fit for travel.
If you like to eat similarly to what you do at home and I want to venture out and try anything and everything, it’s not going to work.
If I want to go out and walk without a plan to see where it takes me, and you only want to join organised tours, it’s not going to work.
You must read my Travel Style first to see if we are a good fit.
Also, do you think I should make it for people over 40? Or 35+? Let me know what you think.
My Travel Style
I have mentioned my travel style in part earlier in this article.
But I am also no fuss, no drama, casual and easy-going. So is my travel style.
Europe is my favourite place to travel, but I am also up for trips to the USA, Japan, Vietnam and Cambodia.
I like travelling out of season. Crowds are not my cup of tea. Neither is hot weather.
I like staying in accommodation that is comfortable, value for money and offers top customer service.
A bit of room would be nice, but when travelling in Europe, that’s not always possible. It can be a bit of a shock seeing twin beds pushed together! If I feel like I need my space, I will book a single room anyway.
I don’t need a big bathroom or spend a lot of time getting ready. When I travel, it’s all about the experiences, and I’m not very glamorous anyway.
I like to stay longer than a night or two in one location because I love the familiarity that comes with finding a favourite cafe, restaurant and shops. Five days is the average stay for me, but it depends on the destination.
But don’t think I get bored. Staying in one place longer means I have more time to explore the area, rather than scratch the surface.
There are plenty of day trips and activities to keep me occupied, but it also means that I have options.
I have the choice to relax and enjoy some downtime if needed or wanted, the chance to follow up on a local recommendation and do something additional to the itinerary or the opportunity to revisit a place that appealed to me.
I love food. And wine. I love nothing more than trying the local cuisine, even the strange stuff, possibly joining a walking food tour. Or cooking class. If a region is mainly known for its wine, then a wine tour may be included in the itinerary.
Adventurer and adrenalin junkie, I am not. But having a go at riding a Vespa on a wine tour might be a laugh!
I like to walk as much as I can. You see more. I always include walking tours in my itineraries. I love train travel, buses not so much.
I wake early, sometimes I go for an early morning walk, sometimes I don’t. I’m not one to be out late, but hey if it involves a few glasses of red wine, my arm can admittedly be twisted. Who doesn’t love a good chat and a few laughs over drinks?
What do you think? Are we a good fit to travel together?
Is this Travel Club for Women Only?
It can be, but it can also be mixed groups. Couples can join too if they like.
I don’t mind. What this club is not, is a matchmaking club with trips for singles.
If that’s what you have in mind, then you need to look elsewhere. If you want to organise your own singles trip, then go for it.
What I want for these trips are to match travellers with similar styles. So, when I post each trip, I will state what my intention is for the trip.
For example, I might post –
Heading to Italy and will be staying in Florence and Bologna. In Bologna, I plan on doing a cooking class, doing a workshop at the Gelato University and other food-related tours. I am looking for like-minded foodies to travel with. If food isn’t your thing, then come along too, but know that I will be busy eating my way around those two destinations. I am thinking of travelling on (dates) and staying at (hotel). If you are interested in this trip or want more information, please comment below, and I will be in touch. Before you comment, please read “Cindy’s Travel Style” in the Files section to make sure we will be a good travel fit.
When Do We Start?
Cindy’s Exclusive Travel Group is taking names of interested travellers now. I will be adding you to an email list, so I can keep you updated on our progress, and you can join the Facebook Group.
I already have travel plans for 2019 and possibly at the beginning of 2020. I am planning to walk the Camino. When I am ready to post my travel plans, it will be for late 2020 and onwards.
In the meantime, I will be working on increasing the number of members in the club.
It will also be a good way for us to get to know each other, where we are from and perhaps share our travel bucket lists.
Eventually, I will be hosting meetups in the locations I travel so even if you don’t want to go with me, you might be travelling in the same area and can attend the meetup.
For the rest of 2019, I am interested in your ideas about where you want to travel and when.
I will also be sharing retreats, trips and deals I think might be interesting.
But most importantly, I want to start conversations.
Join my exclusive FREE TRAVEL CLUB. Let's travel the world together, as friends.
So that’s it. Let me know what you think of the whole concept. Please comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know you want me to include you in the mailing list. I will then invite you to join the Facebook Group.
Come travel with me 😊