Meet Jane: VBT’s Traveler of the Month for February 2014

After seeing how much fun they seem to have from the pictures they’ve kindly shared with us, we’ve wanted to hear Celebrating Jane's 70thmore about a group of women known as “WE GO NOW” that have taken many VBT Group tours together over the years. When we asked Laura, VBT’s Group Tour Manager, who to contact from the group she immediately suggested Jane D (2nd in from the right in this picture), who is preparing for her 10th VBT vacation and is also one of the group’s organizers. We had a chance to sit down with Jane and ask her some questions about why she loves active travel and how she came to choose VBT as the perfect vehicle in which to see the world with WE GO NOW.

How long have you been a fan of active travel and when did you hear about VBT?
Before discovering VBT, I went on biking trips to Provence, Lake Constance, Italy, the Danube and the Elbe River (Berlin to Prague) with two other companies. In 2005, with my husband and another couple, I went on the VBT Banff biking trip that was offered back then and fell in love with EVERYTHING VBT!
We Go Now field

You organize a group of women who travel together called “WE GO NOW” and have taken many group vacations with VBT in the past. Could you describe the inception of this group? Do the same members travel every time?
The aforementioned Banff tour left me wanting more so when our Trip Leaders recommended the VBT New Zealand vacation, we thought it would be the perfect place to travel with a private group of women…and thus, WE GO NOW was born! Since then, WE GO NOW has done one VBT trip a year and to date, we’ve been to New Zealand, Vietnam, Croatia, Heart of Europe Bike and Barge, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Italy Po Valley and Poland. This September, WE GO NOW is getting ready for our second Bike and Barge trip: Heart of France.

My dear friend Linda and I work together to plan our WE GO NOW trips and events. We have many return travelers on our private group trips and for our upcoming September trip; we have only one “Newbie.” A month before our trips, Linda and I do a dinner party with appropriate national cuisine. The group shares tips, albums, memories from previous trips and we give each of them trip favors which have included visors, backpacks and purses emblazoned with the WE GO NOW logo.

What is it about VBT’s Group Travel Program that keeps you coming back year after year?
For me, biking is only a small part of a VBT trip. The incredible native VBT Trip Leaders, wonderful customer service, hotels that are offered, meals, special events, bikes and routes all join together to produce memorable experiences. The women who choose to do our trips are pretty darn awesome…we say, wining is allowed; but whining is not allowed. We call it the WE GO NOW spirit and believe it shows in how helpful and encouraging the women are with each other. Being good Americans is important to WE GO NOW. Our trips are never competitions and for us it’s not about mileage or speed…it’s about Vacation, Education and with just a little Libation.
We Go Now group pic

For our group, we often pre-book independent adventures for our pre- or post-trips with suggestions from Laura Thompson Breen, VBT’s Group Manager, who is like “family” to me! In Krakow, we enjoyed a private group dinner and Chopin concert and visited Auschwitz-Birkenau. In Croatia, we did private day tours of Bosnia and Montenegro. I recently booked a private group day trip to Normandy’s WWII Landing Beaches for our upcoming pre-trip. VBT’s office staff is always so helpful and cheerful. I also enjoy the amazing VBT Trip Leaders who really are the spark and the glue of our trips. We often wonder how and where VBT finds these incredible Leaders! They all have been encouraging, upbeat, safety conscious, patient, knowledgeable and always have a superb sense of humor!

You’ve been to Poland, Croatia, Italy, The Czech Republic and more with VBT over the years, what is your favorite destination that you’ve been to with us so far?
Favorite? It’s a dilemma to choose one. Aspects of all of my VBT vacations stand out: the Vietnamese children calling “I love you” out to us, biking around Slovenia’s gorgeous Lake Bled and around Italy’s Lake Garda, home visits and meals, the views seen from Croatia’s islands and biking along the Danube which is the best biking trail I’ve ever Brage cropexperienced. The pre- and post-trip cities have been lovely: Bellagio, Cinque Terre, Ljubljana, Vienna, Prague, Saigon, and Krakow. I must admit that New Zealand was total paradise and is my favorite VBT trip but, who knows, maybe the Heart of France will be my new favorite!

Speaking of your upcoming Heart of France Bike and Barge vacation, what are you looking forward to most about traveling again by barge?
Traveling by barge is a complete joy – unpacking once and tucking the suitcase under the bed brings a smile to my face. Having our private barge, private staff, private dining room—what’s not to love? Our Heart of France itinerary will have us barging on the Seine into Paris, what’s not to love about this? As our invitation stated:  BIKE * BARGE * BLISS.

What is it about active travel that appeals to you most?
VBT trips lift my spirits and fill my soul. Much of travel is “drive by” travel from behind a bus or car windshield. VBT bike trips are what I like to call “immersion” travel. I enjoy all the senses you pick up on from the seat of one’s bike like inhaling the lavender, hearing sheep, seeing for miles from the top of a hill, visiting with locals, learning history and culture from the VBT Trip Leaders—what a privilege it all is!  Women sometimes cry at the end of our trips when we say goodbye to our bikes and Trip Leaders, but they are tears of joy, amazement and the wonderful sense of accomplishment!

To learn more about VBT’s Group Travel Program please click here. If you’d like to see some more pictures from WE GO NOW tours over the years check out their Czech tour Gallery and Po River Valley Gallery.

We go now group heart of europe2

Top Tours for Group Travel with VBT

If you’ve ever thought about getting a group of friends or family together to take an active vacation then VBT has some great news for you. Take advantage of our Group Travel Program and you could save both yourself and your friends some money—you could even earn a FREE vacation! Because we already specialize in small-group active travel, our Group Tour Manager will guide you every step of the way and be able to take care of all the details for your group from flights to any extended stays at the beginning or end of our tours. All you have to do is pick a destination and we’ll do the rest! To help you get the ball rolling we’ve compiled a list of the Most Reserved Vacations for Groups so far in 2014.

Italy: Cycling the Dolomite Valleyswith departures from May–October
Traveler Rating: 4.9/5 | Difficulty Rating: Easy
ID Group
Explore the valleys of the majestic Dolomites where cycling on downhill and flat paths reveal meadows, orchards, forests, canyons and roaring cascades. We’ll visit ancient villages, discover local history and sample cuisine during special events like a barbecue feast and a picnic lunch beside a bucolic lake. At the end of each day of cycling we’ll pamper you with our selection of 4-star hotels and even the relaxing treatment baths and wellness facilities during our time in Terme Merano.

The Czech Republic, Germany & Austriawith departures from May–October
Traveler Rating: 4.9/5  | Difficulty Rating: Easy
CZ Group
Join us on an unforgettable adventure to the heart of Central Europe on an exciting tour that visits three distinct countries. We’ll travel from Prague to Czech’s beautiful Šumava National Park before crossing into Bavarian Germany. Along the way, you’ll take a guided tour of historic Cesky Krumlov, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, learn about Bavarian culture from the owners of a local tavern, enjoy a home-hosted lunch, and view Neuberg Fortress during a riverside picnic.

Croatia: The Dalmatian Islands​—with departures from May–October
Traveler Rating: 4.9/5  | Difficulty Rating: Moderate
CI Group
Explore the awe-inspiring Dalmatian Islands of Brac and Hvar— acclaimed as one of the world’s most beautiful isles by Travel + Leisure magazine—as you discovery their fascinating history, stunning scenery and mild climate. We’ll enjoy authentic Croatian wine and cuisine at a home-hosted meal, tour one of the world’s last remaining stonecutting schools, and ride along beautiful coastal biking routes to some of the world’s best beaches and swim in their pristine waters.

NEW! Lake Constance: Germany, Austria & Switzerland​— with departures from May–October
Traveler Rating: N/A (new for 2014) | Difficult Rating: Easy
LC group
Covet the best of alpine splendor  on this new biking tour, like snow-capped peaks, a vast glistening lake, and easy bike paths that gloriously connect you to an often overlooked corner of Europe. Some highlights of this new tour include tastings of organic fruit brandy and German beer, marveling at the magnificent Romanesque churches of Reichenau, cruising across Lake Constance aboard a ferry with breathtaking views and waltzing through the riotous array of flowers on the island of Mainau.

Sicily: Biking the Southern Coastal Villageswith departures from March–June and Sep–Nov
Traveler Rating: 4.6/5   | Difficulty Rating: Easy/Moderate
SB Group
Pedal back in time on a Mediterranean island that was courted by the Greeks, refined by the Romans and influenced by the Moors to develop its own distinct, Italian flavor. We’ll visit the baroque palaces of Noto and Ragusa Ibla, learn about Sicily’s Greek influence from a local historian in Syracuse, prepare Sicilian delicacies with a local chef and delight our taste buds further on a tour of a family-owned chocolate factory.

These are just a few examples of the amazing vacations that Groups are reserving this year. To learn more about the advantages of our Group Travel Program click here. To request a full catalog with all of our vacations please click here. If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with our Group Tour Manager, please call Laura at 800-245-3868, x3411.