The Enjoyment of Group Travel
By: Lee Shoultz
Manager of Razorbacks on Tour and Affinity Programs
Arkansas Alumni Association
I was fortunate this fall to participate in my first group travel program, Great Trains and Grand Canyon. Group travel was something that I had never considered prior to going on this trip. As an independent person who prefers to travel alone or with a small group of family, I was unsure of how I would adjust to the group travel experience. However, much to my surprise, I found it to be an enjoyable, fun, relaxing experience and here is why:
- Someone else is planning the day to day activities: It truly was enjoyable and refreshing to not have to worry about the logistics of where we were going next, how we would get there, and what we would do while we were there. Furthermore, at the beginning of the trip, we received a day by day itinerary of the planned activities which were packed with exciting adventures.
- The Razorback bond: The ties that bind us are never broken as passionate proponents of the University of Arkansas. On this trip to the Grand Canyon, we had travelers of all ages from those who graduated in 1948 to those who graduated in 2016. While the campus has changed and improved over the years, there is one thing that unites us and that is our love for our institution. We had a blast talking about the good ole days and what we are looking forward to in the years to come. Over the course of the week, we were able to build friendships with each other as we learned not only about their lives but their affinity for the University of Arkansas.
- You receive the full experience of the destination you are visiting, even places you have never heard of before: I must admit, before attending this trip, I was not overly familiar with the landscape and culture of Arizona and the Grand Canyon. However, now that I have not only visited the region but also had a travel director guiding me around the area, I feel as though I received a great education about the area. For instance, as we were driving from Phoenix to Sedona, I never would have imagined the landscape changing so dramatically due to the altitude. Furthermore, while the south rim of the Grand Canyon is spectacular, we also had the opportunity to visit additional outlook points such as Desert View and Mather Point. Did you know that it is actually very hard to see the Colorado River running through the Grand Canyon? In fact, Desert View is one of the few places you can actually see the river winding through the Canyon. This is one of the many instances where I found myself in awe of the location we were visiting as I was unaware of the history prior to visiting the region. Lastly, as train travel has become less traveled over the decades it was refreshing to utilize the mode of transportation to view the scenery of the region in a unique way.
- Receiving the local perspective: While on the way to our destinations each day, our lovely travel director Marianne, gave us an overview of the region we were about to visit and a brief history and knowledge of the culture and how people are living there today. I would not have had as much detail about the history and culture of the region if I was not traveling in this group setting. For instance, the town of Jasper is an old copper mining town that was abandoned for many years but is now thriving with shops and restaurants due to the uptick in tourism to the town. Additionally, since Jasper was abandoned at one time there are haunted hotels where you may elect to stay to enjoy the scenic mountain valley views of the town.
Overall, the group travel experience was as enriching as I had hoped for. It gave me an opportunity to create lifelong connections and friendships with my fellow Arkansas Alumni.
To view more of the Great Trains and Grand Canyon trip photos visit: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmHrh76E