Here’s a story about our tour clients, who are #besties
Meet Liz and Susan. Both are coming to Southern Italy with us in 2017, a tour that will mark their third trip with Italian Fix. It’s become something of a ritual for them, one of the many ways they keep their connection strong, to one another and to what lifts them up individually.
It’s also a little lesson for all of us in nurturing friendships. Read on…
Letter from our founder, Bianca Gignac:
Many of us can count the childhood friends we’re still tight with on one hand. People who were so important to us when we were young end up drifting away as our lives get busy and we get pulled in different directions and toward new interests.
That’s why meeting Liz and Susan — childhood friends who despite the physical distance between them make a point of staying close — has been so refreshing.
“We became friends when we were freshmen, so we were 14, and we were very close friends, right from the get-go. We’ve always been close friends. You know, we’ve gone through life together,” says Liz.
Still, even though “we didn’t live that far from each other, about half an hour, we’ve never lived in the same town.”
Since then, they only moved further and further apart.
“As soon as we finished high school, she went to nursing school and I went off to university, and then our lives were very different. I started moving around a lot — in the first seven or eight years of my marriage I probably lived in four or five different locations, different countries, different states. Once we had kids, my husband and I committed to living in one place for a long time, but even before they finished high school we started to move around again.
“And Sue also, I mean she’s basically lived either in New York or Los Angeles. And then during that time she also traveled a lot.”
Many relationships wouldn’t have weathered the uprooting, the distance, the demands of day-to-day life pulling focus. How did Liz and Susan manage?
One way was by traveling together.
“We went on a trip to Italy, a group of women who had all been friends in high school but who had all kept in contact. This was less than fifteen years ago, when Sue had just met her second husband. And we were in Italy and he sent her flowers and called her and emailed her and we were all like schoolgirls again. It was fun that we were all so giddy about this fellow back in New York who was writing her. And it was a wonderful trip and it reunited all of us.”
Then a few years ago, Liz and Susan discovered Italian Fix, and were able to recreate that same camaraderie with a new group of women, minus the stress of having to coordinate everyone’s busy schedules to make it work.
The tours have become a way for the two of them to nurture their own relationship, while making new friends too.
“It’s a story of women, it’s the way women are, and that’s what I love about it. I mean, I love connecting with women and having women friends, and you know, hearing all about them and what’s going on with them. I’m thinking of all of the women I know and the effort that they’ve made to stay connected to each other even though they live great distances apart. I think women have a need for that more than men do really. Or, not that they have more of a need for it. Men have a need for it too, I’m sure. It’s just that women are more ready to act on it.”
Friends across generations
A question we get asked a lot at Italian Fix is, “Will I be too old/too young for the group?”
We always answer that the women on our tours range from twenty-somethings to seventy-somethings, and it just works.
We’re all looking to add a little magic to our lives, no matter how old or young we are.
This is something that Liz already appreciated in her own life.
“That’s one of the things that I love about Maine. Maine socially is a very multi-generational place. Even though my daughter, Annemarie, is 35 and I’m 68, we have lots of mutual friends that are both closer to my age and closer to her age, which I love.”
That that happens to also be part of what defines an Italian Fix tour has been a bonus.
“What I loved about the Cinque Terre trip was that there was a group of people my age, and then there was the fun group, the young girls, and it was so much fun just getting to know them, watching them and seeing what was going on. It was really fun.
“You know, part of it is the women that you attract. I mean, both groups were great groups and I loved being with each and every one of them. I learned something from each and every person on the two trips, which was very nice.”
Another bonus? Italy.
What else keeps Liz and Susan coming back to Italian Fix year after year for their annual Italian reconnect?
Location, location, location!
“These trips are definitely special. I’ve taken two trips with you, this is the third one coming up. But the two trips I’ve been on with you I think were unique, especially the Sicily trip. It was just so much fun traveling around.
“And then of course you have such a great country that you’re taking us all to. I love Italy, I’ve always loved going to Italy. I just love the people. I mean, the scenery is beautiful, but more than the scenery, I feel like it’s so welcoming. More than most of the other European countries. I think that the Italian people just really go… not that they go out of their way, it’s just that it’s inbred in them to be welcoming. I don’t think they have to work at it, I think it’s just who they are. And so when you’re there, interacting with them, it’s just such a pleasure.”
Friends who make plans together stick together, because like Liz says, “You both recognize the value in the friendship.”
Italian Fix tours have become a touchstone for many of our guests, a place for lifelong friends to connect and for new relationships to begin.
Liz and Susan will be back again this year, along with almost everyone else from our 2016 Sicily trip. A group of women who didn’t know each other a year ago decided almost unanimously to travel together again. What can we say? We are a magnet for some of the most wonderful women out there!
New friends met last year will be old friends this year, this year’s newcomers will be next year’s old friends, and so it goes.
Isn’t it time you devoted a week to friendship?
Wanna hear something super surprising about Italian Fix trips?
The people on them are a mixed bag. We’re a Heinz 57, if I may.
We’ve got it all:
- 25-year-olds to 75-year-olds.
- Single gals.
- Married-three-times gals.
- Divorced-a-few-times gals.
- Women with kids.
- Women with zero desire to have those brats.
- Can’t-make-the-rent-next-month-but-crossing-my-fingers gals.
- Have-three-homes-and-one-is-in-the-Hamptons gals.
- Ladies from Canada, USA, Australia, Singapore, Europe. Expats who don’t know where home is anymore.
Some women on our trips travel more than the Dalai Lama.
Some have never been out of their own country.
Why do we get such a range of people?
Because instead of following the rules and creating these strict boxes like, “We’re an adventure company,” or “We’re a company for young travelers,” or “We’re a company for luxury travelers,” we are really driven by a vibe and a philosophy.
We like to mix “high and low.”
(Like a cheap pair of jeans from H&M with a “these cost me two rent payments” pair of boots.)
You like to get together, in a pretty place, and sometimes you’ll eat at the hardest-to-get reservation in town and sometimes you’ll be standing in the market eating a panino with construction workers. It’s just about being yourself, at ease, in a place with women who might not have your background but they do have a vision for how they want to live their life. With choice, optimism, faith that everything will be alright.
And that’s the common ground.
Look, I agree an Italian vacation costs a buttload of cash. But I also feel like there’s no shortage of money on this planet. What there is a shortage of is people who are happy, who have the things they want and who love their lives.
I believe it’s better to live rich than to die rich. It’s better to pay a little extra and get what you want than to pay a little less and make a mistake.
As one of our guests says, “You can’t put a price on travel because it’s an experience, not a product.”
80 bucks and a dream.
I founded this company 5 years ago with a “How to Build a WordPress Website” book from the library, and less than 80 bucks.
Things have grown from my humble beginnings when my toddler daughter napped beside me and I was starting this company from the ground up.
I’m now a founder of a travel company with a global team, get to work with my best buds, and I have amazing clients like Liz and Susan that I get to serve.
Even after having served hundreds of customers, I’m so deeply honored and remember every last one. I don’t take lightly that they’ve invested their time, money and energy to fly across the world and join our Italian experiences.
I’m happy to call many of our clients good friends. Work might be “just work” to so many people, but this company, along with being a wife and mother, is actually my absolute passion and joy and a path I feel so grateful to be on.
Now, I’d love to know this.
Do you feel like traveling around the world and hanging out with wonderful women is your definition of living well?
Can you relate to Liz and Susan?
Do you dream about a fun trip with your bestie?
With our payment plan, (as low as 562 USD/ month) and a trip already laid out, it’s easy to say yes.
No one has to “do the work.” You just book it, and you’re in!
The boom boom boom coolest thing? This is YOUR life. You get to choose YOUR own adventure. We’re just here to help make that adventure more magical.
Know that we’re all in this together.
Bianca Gignac, Founder, Travel Beautifully Media Inc.
P.S. May I ask you a tiny favor? If you have a friend who would love to do this someday, could you share this story with them? It’ll show her you love and admire her. Encouragement can be EVERYTHING at certain points of life, and I want positivity to spread.
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