Company founded by Middlebury College professor has been biking and walking the world since 1971
BRISTOL, VT — VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations, a locally owned travel company founded in an 18th-century barn in Bristol, Vermont, is celebrating 40 years of providing award-winning deluxe active vacations.
VBT has small-town roots, founded in 1971 by John Freidin, a Middlebury College professor who then offered affordable weekend cycling getaways in Vermont. Today, VBT offers an award-winning collection of 37 vacations in 26 countries, including its core international Bicycling Vacations, Bike & Barge Vacations in Europe, and Walking Vacations around the world.
Throughout 2011, VBT is celebrating with Anniversary Tours and other special events with opportunities to meet leaders of VBT, including a June 12 departure of its Vermont: Champlain Valley & Islands Bicycling Vacation, featured as one of Bicycle Magazine’s “15 Trips We Love.” On this Vermont trip, travelers will have the chance to ride with the company President, Gregg Marston, and other VBT associates. They will also visit the former dairy farm that the company uses as its headquarters and attend a reception and festive 40th anniversary dinner with the staff. Participants will also receive a special anniversary gift.
Travelers who would like another option for biking our state’s beautiful back roads can join the company’s popular Classic Vermont trip. Though it is not part of the 40th anniversary celebrations, it includes lovely rides in Middlebury, Bristol, Vergennes, and a visit to UVM’s Morgan Horse Farm. This trip is ideal for beginning cyclists.
The company has also been hosting receptions around the country since January – in Rhode Island, New York, and Florida, with more to come. “For 40 years,” said Marston, “we have been listening to the input of our travelers so we can improve our trips and our services every single year. We’re going on the road to meet our travelers where they live so we can thank them for our success, and to ask them to keep telling us how we can be their #1 choice in active vacations in another ten years.”
Marston’s Vermont roots run deep. He lives in Charlotte, Vermont with his wife and three children. He attended UVM and has been deeply committed to bicycle and pedestrian advocacy groups on both the local and national level, including Burlington’s Local Motion, Montpelier’s Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition, and the National Alliance for Biking & Walking, based in Washington, DC. His passion for travel grew out of the year and a half he spent circumnavigating the world during his college years. That experience, he said, introduced him to the notion of how a travel experience, through cultural immersion with the locals, can impact ones life in a positive way. It also taught him a lot about running a travel business. “Stepping outside your comfort zone is crucial to achieving success,” he continued. “It teaches you a lot about who you are and what you can do. If I can pass that kind of rewarding experience on to VBT travelers, I’ve been successful.”
The company also measures its success, he says, by providing “excellent experiences at prices far below what people expect.” The true reward for him is creating a rich experience in the natural world and helping Americans understand other cultures through interactions with locals. “Travel transforms your views, your spirit, and your life. That’s why we do what we do at VBT … to help people discover the good will and decency that’s out there in the world … and to help leave a more tolerant and peaceful world for our children.”
VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations offers deluxe, small-group bicycling and walking tours worldwide, including destinations in Europe, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Vietnam, Peru, Argentina and the U.S.A. Each trip includes all accommodations, many meals, two expert local Trip Leaders, unique sightseeing and cultural activities, and full vehicle support. Unlike other companies, VBT also includes international airfare and air fuel surcharges in its trip cost. As a commitment to its unsurpassed value, VBT guarantees its travelers that 2011 prices are less than or equal to 2010 prices.
For reservations or more information, call 1-800-245-3868 or log on to the company’s website, www.vbt.com.