People on a VBT vacation have two important things in common—they love to travel, and they love to bike. Those are two great conversation starters—and friendship comes more easily when people are bonded together by an activity they enjoy.
Take A VBT Trip, and You Just Might Meet Your New Best Friends
Posted on Monday, April 17th, 2023
Story by: Molly Waldstein | Travel Writer
That’s what happened when Jim and Cindy Wilson traveled with VBT on Italy: Puglia’s Undiscovered Coast in 2014. “We took our first VBT trip in 2013 and we really enjoyed it,” recalls Jim. “The second year, we went to Puglia. On that trip, we met a bunch of other travelers, and we all hit it off beautifully! This core group has been traveling together now on 10 VBT trips to Europe.” This serendipitous group of like-minded travelers met by chance—but it’s a story we hear at VBT all the time. Why? Because everyone on a VBT vacation already has two important things in common—they love to travel, and they love to bike. Those are two great conversation starters—and friendship comes more easily when people are bonded together by an activity they enjoy.
Local Connections Make All the Difference
With 10 VBT group vacations under their belts, the Wilsons are experts when it comes to what makes a cycling vacation great. “The nicest thing about the VBT experience is the cultural immersion,” says Jim. “Each trip includes something authentic that ordinary tourists couldn’t find.” This is where VBT’s deep local connections come in. With our international friends and family, we find ways to introduce travelers to authentic local culture and way of life—often bringing them straight into a family home to enjoy a meal. “When we did VBT’s Croatia: The Dalmatian Islands Guided Tour, the trip leaders spilt the group and took us to different homes for dinner,” recalls Jim. “We went to the home of a local family with two young kids. The father spoke English and he told us about his experiences in the war and their daily way of life. The mother made incredible food, and the wine was fantastic. This wasn’t a restaurant—it was something we could never have found on our own.” VBT’s bicycle vacations take you away from the tourist traps and straight into the heart of local homes—giving you experiences so authentic you’ll be the envy of tourists who never venture beyond the main attractions.
VBT’s local trip leaders are a wealth of information—and they love to talk to guests about the regions they call home. “There’re always a few trip leaders that stand out,” says Jim. “I’m a very outspoken person, and after about three days of traveling with me on VBT’s Italy: Sicily, the Noto Valley & Syracuse Guided Tour, our Sicilian trip leader says to me: ‘I think you are monello,’ which means you are the bad kid. I took it as high praise!” On VBT vacations, the trip leaders love to put together picnic lunches for the group—with local ingredients that showcase regional specialties. It’s a great opportunity to connect with the trip leaders and discover the authentic traditions that make their culture unique.
Group Travel Organization is Easier Than You Might Think
When it comes to organizing, Jim’s group of friends has a great system for selecting trips and dates, based on the group’s common interests and needs. “We have an executive committee, and we all email back and forth,” says Jim. “But time of year is the most important to us because of the business constraints of different members. Typically, May is the time we all have available, so we travel to regions that have great weather at that time.” During the year, the group stays in touch—and those in the same region even gather for pizza parties and planning sessions. Why? Because when there’s that much traveling sympatico, every moment spent together is a joy. Perhaps, the more miles people cycle side by side, the more enduring their friendship.
When we asked Jim to tell us about the challenges of planning a group vacation, he just laughed. “It’s really easy now because we’ve developed a following,” he explained. “The reason I like to do the organizing is because I can set the schedule and that’s helpful to me. It’s not a lot of work, just shooting out a couple emails. VBT makes it awfully easy for us—we just get the Air Package, and we really don’t have to worry about anything else.” When you plan a vacation through VBT’s Group Travel Program, our expert Tour Consultants are there to walk you through the whole process—finding the best flight itineraries for your group members whether everyone is traveling from the same location, or from different cities across the United States. These travel professionals have tons of experience—and they know all the right questions to ask to ensure the planning process is as smooth as possible.
When you organize a group with VBT’s Group Travel Program, you even can save money:
- Bring 9 people along with you, and you’ll get 50% off the cost of one trip
- Bring 11 people along with you, and one trip is absolutely FREE!
- Bring 17 people along with you, and you receive TWO FREE TRIPS! Plus, your vacation will be exclusive for your group only (Bike & Boat Vacations require 24 people.)
For more information, or to lock-in a specific trip date, call our Group Tour Manager, John, at 888.385.1098, extension 3307.