Throughout my travels to thirty-three countries, many of which I have visited a few times over, I have gone in a variety of ways —with large group tours, solo, small group tours, or with friends and family. There are pros and cons to every type of travel. Some require more planning, while others require no planning at all.
I can vividly recall visiting Italy with my family as a high school graduation trip. My parents opted for a large group tour with a well-known company as we wanted to see several parts of the country, including Rome, Venice, Florence, Verona, Berona, and the Amalfi Coast. It was a lot to squeeze into an eight-day timeline. The company transported us around this large, overly air-conditioned coach bus and while the trip was incredibly memorable (how could you not love Italy?!), the trip lacked a sense of personability. My family was just another piece of the massive group. We weren’t able to customize the trip to our likes and needs. Most importantly, we were just a family paying a lot of money to be shuffled through the country. I later returned to Italy to do some solo exploration and found it to be an incredibly different experience. I found myself wandering the streets of Rome, stopping at cafes that sparked interest, and spending however long I wanted to at the sights.
But this post isn’t about Italy. Rather, it’s about France and the South of France to be specific. My experiences in Italy with a large group tour did teach me a very important lesson about my travel preferences. I don’t do well in large group tours because to me, travel is something that should be customized to each person. I’m not a cookie cutter person, so my travels shouldn’t be either.
I recently learned about Jackdaw Journeys, a small group tour designed by Dee who seems to know the region like the back of her hand. She finds joy in sharing her love of Provence with others, just as I find joy in encouraging you all to break the norm of your schedule to get out and travel. What makes Jackdaw Journeys so unique is that it’s a customized experience for a small group of no more than ten individuals. You’ll get the chance to take cooking classes, walk through the hilly terrain of Provence, and eat at the hidden secrets of the area.
Dee runs her trips twice a year and they are specifically planned during the most comfortable temperatures all while avoiding major tourist seasons. She typically goes around October to get the Fall experience and the Spring time before it gets too hot. When speaking with Dee, she expressed an interest in doing a tour during the Christmas season as Europe is known for their spectacular Christmas markets. All to say that Dee will take you and a group to Provence whenever you’d like.
The ten-day tour is designed to show you the very best and most authentic parts of Provence. The group flies into Nice where Dee and a private driver will meet you. From there, you drive inland to Provence and the adventures begin!
One of my favorite aspects of Dee is her innate desire to explore the world. When asked about her love of travel she explained: “As a youngster growing up in a small town in MS, I knew at an early age I wanted to discover the world. To me, travel means personal growth through exposure to something that takes you out of your everyday normal. It can open your eyes and help you understand the lifestyle of different people (and hopefully build tolerance for their differences). Travel breeds patience. Travel provides education I don’t feel you can obtain in a textbook or a class room. It must be experienced with humor and the positives of travel far outweigh any negative you might encounter.” How could you not want to travel with someone like Dee?! I couldn’t agree more with her sentiments.
There are so many qualities that Dee adores about Provence, including the region’s historic qualities and traditions. She explained how Provence has a much slower pace of life unlike the many bustling cities in Europe. “In Provence, people take the time for family enjoyment of foods and time shared with friends through entertainment. There is beauty everywhere in their landscape, their foods, the mild temperatures for the most part, their people and their buildings.”
When I asked Dee “Why Provence?” her answer was succinct and made me want to hop on a plane immediately! “Provence provides its guests with two separate experiences in the South of France. You have the coast (Riviera) with its charming beaches and coves, beautiful boats and people, Belle Époque Architecture, massive villas, and the most beautiful water to swim in. Less than an hour away, you can be in the quaint countryside with winding roads, outdoor markets, mountains, Roman ruins, centuries old working villages, vineyards and olive groves and fields of lavender. Provence gives her guests two totally different experiences of travel in very little time.”
Jackdaw Journeys provides the luxury of a vacation and the quality attention of a personal tour. Something I always wondered is the meaning of “Jackdaw.” What a peculiar, yet memorable name. Dee explained, “The name came from my favorite store in my village in England. A Jackdaw is a European bird who likes people and often travels around. My Jackdaw has a sprig of lavender in its beak and the company became Jackdaw Journeys.”
When you’re planning your next getaway, consider joining Dee’s customizable, luxurious, yet authentic Jackdaw Journeys trips to Provence where you will have the chance to fall in love with not only the region but the concept of travel all over again.
Receive $300 off your next trip with a mention of So Sydney!