It was nearly 2 years ago when Greg found out that he would be able to retire in 2017. That event pulled the trigger for me to start Euro Travel Coach. Many people told me over the years that I should start a travel company. I love travel so much and thoroughly enjoy helping people travel where they want to go, do what they want to do, and follow a budget they are comfortable with. Greg was my biggest advocate and he agreed to be my partner. A little later, Chelsea joined the team and added an extra level of expertise. I spent several months in the fall of 2016 trying to figure out how on earth to build a website (the Squarespace helpline was HOT with all my questions) and deciding on a business model. Initially I planned to offer custom itineraries and coach people who had questions related to travel in Europe. We’ve been doing that more and more and are thoroughly enjoying creating travel experiences for our clients. Let us know if we can help you or people you know with any travel plans!
Along the way, it became apparent that in addition to this service, we could also offer tours. We have not been on many tours ourselves mostly because we really enjoy the process of planning a trip, but we see a demand for travelers who want to arrive at a destination and have someone else escort them through the itinerary. This was a new way to create travel experiences that we enjoy – and share it with others. We love immersive travel. I’ve put together plenty of study abroad trips for student groups ranging in size from 10-30 so I knew I could do this. I’ve also been a trip leader on cultural and food oriented continuing education programs in Italy and the US. So, it just made sense for us to plan and lead a trip. We decided to take people to Tuscany, one of our very favorite places.
We put together a trip that WE would want to do filled with food, wine, culture, history, art and interesting and passionate local people. We organized 2 one week trips, back to back, and started advertising. We hoped people would like what they saw and sign up – and they did!! We were thrilled to sell out both weeks!
Greg, Chelsea and I took a practice trip in October to meet the villa personnel and make sure we were confident in every restaurant, winery, hike and tour guide. It was a great week and a we learned a lot. We arrived 3 days before our first group trip began in May to prepare further by refining our planned hikes and purchasing locally produced products for breakfast and apertivi.
Our two weeks turned out even better than we expected! Each group of people had their own character. They didn’t all know each other and we didn’t know all of them – but we became fast friends traveling together. The first week the age range was 20 to 79 and everyone was connected to Tarleton State University in some way, even though we didn’t plan it to be like that. The second week, everyone was somehow connected to the lake in Canada where we spend our summers. We had so much fun with each group of people. We were able to tune in to the pace and personality of each group and tweak the itinerary each day based on the weather and the desires of our guests. Even our most well seasoned travelers told us how much they appreciated the work put into the itinerary, but also how worry-free the trip turned out to be. They did not have to plan anything or deal with time and effort (or hassle) of figuring out the logistics of transportation and parking, confirming reservations, locating guides, even deciding what to do day to day.
Staying in a villa for a week and taking day trips turned out to be fantastic. Each day was carefully planned to get the most out of our time in Tuscany while still providing periods to relax and enjoy the sweet life. We took trips to Assisi, Orvieto and Siena and met local guides to learn about the history, culture and art of each of these unique and ancient cities. We hiked through the Val d’Orcia and soaked in the Tuscan setting filled with vineyards and cypress trees. The photos from each trip turned out to be absolutely spectacular – how could they be anything different in that beautiful setting? And we ate SO well! Our leisurely breakfasts and apertivi included locally sourced meats, cheeses, and produce that was in season. Each meal out was better than the previous one. We learned to make pici pasta at the villa and enjoyed the fruits of our labor. And our meals at the villa, prepared by our own personal nonna with ingredients grown and raised right there on the agritourismo were typical Tuscan – and absolutely amazing. And the wine – oh the wine!!! Fantastic!
We were quite tired by the end of the two weeks but it was so rewarding to share our love for travel, Tuscany and la dolce vita with our guests. They were so great. They told us again and again how much they loved the itinerary, the pace, and the experience. We are so so happy that they enjoyed it as much as we did. If you’d like to see some of their comments, you can check them out here on our website! See for yourself what they had to say --
We’ve had such an amazing year of traveling and this was a real highlight of our 9 months in Europe. We have another small group trip planned to Tuscany in March and it is already full so we opened up a new one in May. If you’re interested in joining us you can see the itinerary here. We would love to travel with you!