Whenever Laura Wilkinson, a healthcare worker and busy mom, travels with her family, she’s always been the “default” person in charge of all the logistics. That creates challenges. While she loves vacationing with her husband and kids, it’s also demanding and draining. “If you have to do all this work, it’s not as enjoyable,” she says. “That’s a lot of mental orchestration.”
It turns out she wasn’t the only one who felt that way. When Laura started talking to friends about a “pie in the sky” idea to take a trip where they all could, in her words, “let ourselves and our brains just be,” she was amazed by how quickly it took on a life of its own.
“I really didn’t have to do that much for this to come together!” she says. “Everyone was open to the idea of taking a trip somewhere together. Then I started texting and emailing them ideas about where to go, and we all fed off each other’s enthusiasm. All I did was set up this wonderful scenario of a bunch of us women traveling together and it charged ahead on its own.”
Fortunately, Laura didn’t have to do it on her own. By taking advantage of the VBT Group Travel Program, she was able to draw on a knowledgeable support team and even financial incentives to help make the trip happen. The result? She got to focus on all the fun stuff—like choosing a destination (Sicily)—while the logistics came together behind the scenes.
Growing a Group and Getting to “Yes”
For Laura, it was deciding who to invite that required the most planning. “I had to be thoughtful about it because I know not everyone is up for biking every day. I handpicked them based on their physical ability and sensibility. Then I trusted those people to ask other friends who would be suitable.”
For a group trip to be successful, Laura knows that everyone has to embrace not only the joys of travel, but also the occasional unexpected nature of it. “You have to think about who will be flexible and easy to travel with. Who will be good adventurers?”
But it’s not that the selection process made things difficult. It wasn’t hard for her to figure out who would enjoy riding through Sicily and who wouldn’t. She was already regularly biking and hiking with a circle of friends – albeit with kids in tow. “I know these women pretty well and just started pitching this idea. We all work hard as moms and health care providers. I was surprised by how quickly people said ‘Yes’!”
Preparing Together is Half the Fun
“We’re having so much fun making our travel plans together!” she says. “Everyone appreciates my facilitating and organizing, but this is not just my trip. I don’t think of myself as the one in charge. We’re all having fun with this!”
The women are training together, prioritizing their self-care and preparation. Connecting with friends around travel has added a rewarding and fulfilling dimension to her life. “There’s so much laughter and enthusiasm as we make plans together.” Even better, she says, that she’s not going to be just sitting around a pool with her friends; they’re going to be moving their bodies every day. “Exercise is such an important part of our well-being. I love that I’m going to get that endorphin kick while I’m exploring another country!”
Letting Go of the Baton
So, how does a family’s “default” planner feel about being the organizer of a large group? Is she at all concerned that she’ll be forced into the role of “orchestra conductor?”
Now that her Sicily group is assembled—with perhaps some others joining soon—she’s reveling in the fact that VBT is doing all the planning. The pressure of making sure things go smoothly and all the details are covered has been taken off her shoulders. The trip was her brain child, after all. But once the journey begins and her group arrives in Sicily, “I lose my baton,” she says. “And all us women in this wonderful orchestra will play our own songs.”