Here on the last day of July, I wanted to post once more for Paris in July.
So many people dream of traveling to France. One of the saddest stories I've heard about someone who wanted to travel to France was about an author, in his late 30s, early 40s, who finally had a book published. In the dedication, he wrote, "To My Wife, Who Will See Paris After All." Then two months later, his wife died. She never saw Paris.
I want to shake people and say, "What are you waiting for? Go grab your dreams, whatever they are!"
So, a blogger friend of my mine, Delana Nelson, who grabbed her dream of moving to Aix en Provence when she was 50, has started a business to help other people who may be afraid to travel to France alone.
Travel Solo Bootcamp is designed to help people who have no one to travel with. It will help women get over the fear of traveling alone. I can't explain it very well, but I interviewed Delana and here's how she explained her new business.
Q. What is Travel Solo Bootcamp?
Travel Solo Bootcamp is a week spent in Aix en Provence which is designed to give women the opportunity to learn how to travel alone. It’s a mix of fun, support, and travel-solo assignments. Our hope is that at the end of the week, our recruits will be able to say “Yes, I’m going” when faced with that great deal for a weekend in New York City, after reading an article about a colorful sea-side town in Italy, or hearing about a fabulous beach in Croatia. There are always hesitations about taking a trip, whether it be money or time, but we don’t want traveling alone to be part of that equation. Being able and willing to travel solo is an exhilarating freedom.
Q. How’d you get the idea to start Travel Solo Bootcamp?
My founding partner, Marcia, had the idea. She and her former boyfriend had previously done week-long painting workshops here in the region. Her clients were mostly women and by spending so much time with them, she learned about their fears of traveling alone . Initially, when she brought up the idea of some sort of seminar, I thought it was crazy. For me traveling alone is not a problem. But as I thought about it, I realized how many of my close friends were in the very same position. They want to travel, they’re in a financial and family position to travel, but they’re afraid of the unknown and their inexperience. These are reasonable, educated, creative women. So I interviewed them as well as others, asking questions, researching etc., and realized there really is a need for this. So voila, this baby was born.
Ha, ha! That depends on your definition of hard. Hey, a week in the south of France can never be that hard! I have traveled a lot and traveled alone, so for me it would not be difficult. But for some women who have either never traveled or have always been with another while traveling, something as simple as eating alone in a foreign country is something to be avoided at all costs. I can’t tell you how many people say they would prefer to eat a sandwich in their room. OMG! Eating is the best part of traveling, isn’t it? Getting on a bus or a train all by yourself and going to visit small villages can be equally difficult. One needs to get these things “under their belt” so to speak. Once that happens, freedom begins.
Q. Is this travel experience only for women? Why?
We are marketing it to women because our research tells us there are so many women that find themselves alone by chance or by choice. It could be divorce or widowhood, perhaps they have a partner but he or she is working or not willing to travel, their children have left home….or any other number of reasons. But they do not want that to deter their dreams. We will welcome men if they would like to come. But they need to be over 6 feet tall, like to cook, and be well-mannered (oh whoops, that’s another list!)
Q. How is traveling with Travel Solo Bootcamp more advantageous that traveling alone?
We allow and expect you to do things and make your own experiences. However, as we say, “we’ve got your back”. Every recruit gets a cell phone when they arrive so they can contact us for any reason. The group meets once or twice each day for mini-seminars and support. These include coffee and croissants or aperitif, so you can see we’re not exactly your average “bootcamp”.
There are many organizations they cater to women traveling solo. But they involve group travel, or “adventure” travel, or they are simply too “nuts and granola” for many. Not everyone wants to climb a mountain or see the world by mini-bus. This allows women to dip their toes in the water before they do their swan dive.
Q. What are you most looking forward to during the bootcamps?
I love meeting the recruits; getting to know them, learning their story, and having the opportunity to “play” with them. And this also allows me to look at my world through their eyes. As a new place, an exciting adventure, perhaps a new life. That just makes me happy.
So what are you waiting for? If you want to go to France, go!