The sheepdog, or how to successfully organize group travels

Photo by flickr user Don DeBold

Photo by flickr user Don DeBold

Personal Travels has kindly asked me to contribute regularly to its travel blog. I’m very pleased to oblige partly because, as the mother of the founder, I feel I belong to the company and partly because I feel my personal long-term experience may come in useful. Over the weeks I hope to tackle some worthwhile issues connected to organizing group travels and particularly to zoom in on student and religious groups.

Yeah! I know. The title. I grant that sheepdog is a bit odd for a travel blog but it describes exactly how I feel when I’m in charge of my group on our trips here and there for study or recreation.

I quite like the analogy myself. If you’ve ever watched a sheepdog working, you’ll see how seriously he takes his responsibility. He knows when to give the sheep free rein, he knows who the frisky ones are and when they might need a nip at the heels. He knows when he can take a breather and let them go at their own pace and he knows when to hand them back to the shepherd who will reward him with a well-done pat.

I was born in Ireland. My large Irish family – eight siblings – is not the stereotype Irish family, in the sense that we are not all scattered between Britain, Australia and America. I’m the only one who left Ireland and went to settle in Italy. But between family and friends who love to come and holiday in Calabria where I live, I feel I’m just down the road. Of course, going back to The Emerald Isle is always fantastic.

Home is in Calabria in the toe of Italy. I’m a teacher at secondary school level and am also a language trainer for elementary school teachers. I have three children and three wonderful grandchildren. I’m English-Italian bilingual and also try to keep my French and Irish from going too rusty.

By profession I’m an English language teacher and, over the years, I’ve taken numerous groups of Italian students on study holidays, on work experience and on cultural exchanges all over Europe. I’m really excited about being given a platform to share my experiences, offer some guidelines and help simplify the task of travel leaders getting people from A to B and once there of making the most of their stay in a host destination.

Over the weeks we will analyse group travels and related topics from simple things like remembering to take a universal adapter when going to the UK or Ireland or viceversa to complex issues like the challenge of twinning towns and how to find the funding to do so.

On behalf of the Personal travels team I wish you pleasant reading and look forward to your comments on matters that may interest you whether you are a seasoned group leader, an aspiring traveler or just someone fascinated by group travels and everything related to it.