A Solo Traveler Goes on a Small Group Tour

From the title of my first book, Memoirs of a Solo Traveler – My Love Affair with Italy, many of you know that I travel solo to Italy and I enjoy the experience. I value the freedom that comes with traveling alone.

FrecciarossaI like creating my own itinerary, deciding where I want to go and what I want to do.

imageI like the lack of stress caused by an argument with your spouse, partner, or travel companion. I also abhor being guided around in a large group like a herd of animals.

Photo by Margie MiklasI believe that traveling solo can be very empowering, especially for women. The unique thing about solo travel is knowing that you are the one who has to make things happen. While that choice is yours, so is the responsibility and yours alone. I often meet up with friends for a day or two, which is great.

Margie Miklas in Gallipoli, PugliaHowever, I decided to make a change this spring and join Victoria De Maio on her Puglia Experience, and I’m so glad I did. I had a fantastic time and did much more than I would have done alone. It was so much more than I expected, and I’d recommend it highly to anyone, whether you are a new traveler or a seasoned traveler.

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Let me tell you what made me decide to join this small group tour.

1. Staying in one place, a masseria, for 10 days… and not having to unpack every few days. I liked that idea. From the masseria we  take excursions to other Puglia towns, and participate in cooking classes, wine tastings, and more.

image 2. Everything is included in the price. All the meals, all the wine, all the excursions, cooking classes, wine tastings, and transportation.

Especially in Puglia, without a car, it is costly to get around when you are traveling solo. I have previously hired a driver in Puglia for half a day and I remember what I paid, so I knew that this was really a great value for the money.

Michele from Puglia Wine School
Michele from Puglia Wine School

These two reasons were actually enough for me, although there are many more reasons I’d recommend this small group experience. All I had to do was to see all the photos Victoria posted from last year’s trip and I was hooked. I wanted to go to those places in Puglia that I hadn’t been to before, as well as revisit those that I had seen.

Our driver Fabio and our guide Daniela
Our driver Fabio and our guide Daniela

I can say without a doubt that one of the best parts of going to Puglia with Victoria was feeling the camaraderie not only with the others in the group, but also with our drivers and guides, and all the local people with whom Victoria has established relationships. It is hard to describe but there was definitely the feel of being part of a family.

 imageI knew from Victoria’s writing that she has the same kind of passion for Italy as I have, and now that I have met her and traveled with her, I realize that it’s that passion that makes her small group experiences so special.

imageCheck it out. It may be for you, or maybe not. But you won’t know unless you give yourself the opportunity. I’m so happy I did.

imageWhat do you think? I’m interested in your thoughts. Please leave a comment. Grazie mille.

32 Responses

  1. One day I want to see Puglia with Victoria 🙂 thanks you guys!

  2. I am with you 110% Margie. I am not usually a fan of group tours and I absolutely love the freedom of traveling alone, but I did a 3 day tour in the Scottish Highlands and loved it. I’m doing planning for an Italy trip and this is something I would consider. I’m not sure I have ten whole days to spend in that area though, I wish they had something that was five days. I’ll read up on all the details regardless, so thanks!

  3. A small group could be fun, especially with such great things to do. We drove in Puglia and we found the drivers the worst in all of Italy, and the road signs are almost non existent, so having a driver who knows his way around would be excellent.

  4. You have a exceptional ability to capture Italian life in your photos! Brava!

  5. I must comment here: i have done a tourist board trip in Italy with 8 great travel agents ( i was the only story teller on the bus) but it was NOTHING as compared with the events organized by Yltour.com
    if you think carefully about your amazing time in Puglia, it was totally because Yle Sambati knows Puglia and makes your trip amazing: i made pasta with an 80 year old nonna, met a talented potter, went to the smallest biscotti factory where 2 women made hundreds and hundreds of cookies by hand, and even the small events, going to the local veggie market with mamma….. it is WHO arranges the events that makes them special………………..

    • You are so right Lee! Ylenia from @Yltour is from Puglia and she and Michele were fantastic!! Victoria has chosen a great pair to work with and they do a great job collaborating to make everything run smoothly !

    • Every group tour is a group effort and creates a synergy resulting in a successful group experience. Partnering with local experts is key and my partnership with YLTour has been amazing. There is so much that goes on “behind the scenes” from deciding on an itinerary, tweaking when needed, marketing and promoting, getting everyone there, keeping them happy, etc. etc. and having it appear seamless and resulting in very happy guests!

  6. Ahhhh….the memories! LOVE this post Margie. I agree with you on everything. It was a wonderful time that I cringe to think I almost missed out on. Well done, you put this together so well!

  7. Comment two refers to traveling in a herd. Picture three is a herd of sheep. I would have found another comment for number two and dropped the current number two below the sheep. Because it cracked me up. The food made me drool and the pictures of the people did indeed make them seem like friends and family. You are getting so very professional perhaps even post professional with your photography.

  8. This sounds like the ideal way to see an area. I’ve never liked the idea of large group tours and a hectic schedule. Settling down in one place you can get to know well sounds much better to me.

    • Grazie Barbara,
      I found it to be perfect. The ambience at the masseria was very relaxing. If you’re considering a trip to Puglia, check the links in the article. They will direct you to the itinerary and have plenty of photos.

      • Grazie Margie! And ciao Barbara!
        I so agree with both of you about large groups (been there, done that, no thanks!) but love a small group and a pace that allows for a fabulous immersion experience…which is exactly why I started organizing this experience in Puglia. It’s all of what Margie describes and more! 😀
        Please feel free to touch bases after you check out the links (www.PostcardZfromVictoria.com) – looking forward to sharing fabulous Puglia with you, too!
        Victoria

  9. I’m with you Margie – the last thing I want to do is be led around with tons of people and told what I’m going to do & see from moment to moment. This looks & sounds like it was a whole lot of fun however. I may just have to bite the bullet at some point and try a small group tour in the future. I will for sure check out Victoria’s links.

  10. […] really enjoyed the masseria experience and would highly recommend it.  Since I was traveling for five weeks this trip, I had to bring […]

  11. I think that’s the way I’d like to travel. At my age it’s probably not a good idea to go alone. Your photos are gorgeous.

  12. […] I enjoy solo travel but decided to join Victoria’s small group last spring in Puglia. You can read all about my experience here. I had a fantastic time and know that you will […]

  13. I WILL be on one of her adventures soon! New grandbabies are slowing my travel calendar down right now but soon….soon, I’ll be back! I did 8 weeks in Tuscany alone a few yes back. TIME OF MY LIFE!!
    Can’t wait to read more of your blog!!

  14. […] Read Margie’s blog post about our time together in Puglia! […]

  15. […] have been in the habit of traveling solo to Italy, yet Victoria’s small group experience in Puglia intrigued me. I decided to sign up, and join her tour  and in May of 2015, we met in person along […]

  16. […] long distance friendship and kinship which, in the spring of 2015, culminated in meeting in Venice, her joining me on my Puglia tour and additional fun-filled days together in Puglia, Basilicata and the […]

  17. […] with Victoria on one of her small group tours, which more than matched my expectations. You can read about my experience here, and I highly recommend checking out her 2017 itineraries to Puglia and […]

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