Well, we’ve just passed our fourth birthday here at DETOURS and it seems like we’ve crammed a lot into a relatively short period! It wasn’t long ago when we offered just one trip, a 15-day Thailand trip starting December 28th, 2012. Since then, thanks to a quickly growing group of travelers who have become close friends, we’re now very excited to be able to offer over 25 trip options in 7 amazing countries in 2017 alone! We couldn’t have reached this milestone without the support of hundreds of our past travelers, some who have joined us for 4, 5, and even 6 trips in the past 4 years. We look forward to continuing to share incredible experiences around the world with you for many years to come. So a big thank you for your support and friendship over the years from the four of us here, Dan, Shane, James, and Miles – we look forward to our next adventure with you!
With hundreds of thousands of airline miles flown collectively each year, our little DETOURS family here has seen and experienced it all. While everything almost always works out perfectly, here are a few of our secrets to help keep it that way:
CHOOSE THE RIGHT AIRLINE
Whether you’re flying coach, business, or three feet behind the pilot, who you fly with can make the difference between a cold bun in a bag for breakfast, or a vast array of fruits, sweets, and tasty power foods. We’ve flown with almost any airline you can imagine and landed both starving and cranky, or skipping out of the plane with delight. Our best advice if you’re wondering what’s going to get you skipping? Check SKYTRAX website, which hosts thousands of reviews and categorizes every airline in the world on a 1-star to 5-star scale. Or you can always ask us for advice. We love to chat.
SCRAP JET LAG
Everyone’s always looking for the secret “jet lag cure”. Well, in our experience, there’s no secret, just some smart ways to ease it. Some will suggest drinking lots of water, trying to adjust your sleep pattern before departing, or surrounding yourself with as much natural lighting as possible, but we’ve got one of our own. Melatonin is an over-the-counter (in most countries) pill which we limit ourselves to using only on the first night of arriving to a far-off land to “jump start” our new sleep pattern.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
The vast majority of flights you take are going to land in the destination on the right day with your bags. However, every once in a while things don’t work out as planned and you arrive to a foreign land with no clothes. We’ve learned to turn this from a bad thing to an amazing thing just by learning the rights of a passenger. Airline staff tend to divulge as little info as possible, but many airlines are bound by rules that allow you to go straight to the shopping mall from the airport if your bag doesn’t show up! Our advice if you don’t want to study the entire federal laws… ask the airline staff for a printout of the “rights of a passenger” – many airlines legally need to have this available for you. Can you say SHOPPING SPREE! Just make sure to keep your receipts.
PACK A POWER BOOSTER
This isn’t just a good idea for the possibility of an airplane with no power outlets… it’s a great idea for those hotel rooms that sometimes have outlets full of tv and light cords, or for travel days, and definitely for those who forget to bring an outlet adapter and arrive to find two little circles in the wall! This comes in especially handy after using your cell phone as a camera all day, sucking the life out of the battery by the time lunch comes.
It’s universal. It’ll make you friends in far-away lands. It’s calming. And no matter what situation comes up during your travels, grin and remember it’ll all make for good stories later. Remember, your DETOURS trip leader is there to tackle any issue that may arise anyway so go grab a Mai Tai at the pool and he’ll sort everything out!
Anyone who’s been on a group trip before will know the importance of having their trip led by an amazing trip leader, and we confidently claim to have the best out there! Dan, James, and Shane aren’t simply “employees” of our “company”, they are members of our family here, great friends, and an incredibly integral part of the success of DETOURS. But what makes a trip leader stand out as “amazing”? We’ve gathered some feedback from our past guests about our trip leaders and have compiled a list of the 5 most important traits of an amazing trip leader:
- FRIEND – Our travelers join us from all different corners of the world with all different personalities, backgrounds, comfort levels, and interests. An amazing trip leader must be that person that can immediately make all of these differences feel comfortable in a new place, establish trust, and form the incredibly important foundation for the group’s social cohesion. It’s not something that can be taught, it’s a natural trait that still wow’s us and ensures our groups have that atmosphere of comfort, knowing that they’ve got a friend they can trust right off the bat.
- FLEXIBILITY – Some guys like to stay up late into the night soaking up every last moment, while some guys are early risers who get every moment of sunlight they can. Some days everything goes to plan, while some days a plane is cancelled or a bus breaks down. Some guys lovehistory and museums, while some guys love adrenaline. Our trip leaders never know what to expect on day 1 of each trip, but they are fantastically natural at adapting and being flexible to ensure that every day is amazing for everyone in our groups.
- PASSION – It’s clear that Dan, James, and Shane are all passionate about what they do. James even #hashtags every photo with #bestjobever just to rub it into his friends at home! Genuine passion is something that is infectious. It’s impossible to not get excited about something upcoming when the guys are beaming with genuine excitement for what they’ve got in store for you!
- HUMOR – A great sense of humor is imperative! Each one of our guys has a different personality of course, and that comes with unique types of humor and quirkiness. If you’re on a trip with Dan, get him to talk about his infatuation with penguins. With James, introduce him to a cute Latino. Or with Shane, there’s something about beagles… It doesn’t matter who is leading your trip, each one has a great sense of humor.
- RESPONSIBILITY – Through all of their fantastic social skills, it’s easy to forget that they’ve got a lot of responsibility hanging on their shoulders through a trip. Coordinating with our transportation providers, hotels, local guides, planes, activity providers and ensuring everything flows smoothly may be a background task that group members won’t see, but it’s important to trust that they’ve got everything taken care of behind the scenes so that the only thing you’ve got to worry about is making incredible memories during your trip!
Anybody can explore beautiful countries around the world with a group of guys, but the difference between good and AMAZING is evident after spending your trip with Dan, James, or Shane.
We’ve always been uncomfortable using the term “group tour” to describe our trips. Those two words conjure images in our mind of 50 people being herded onto a big bus by a clipboard-wielding tour guide, before driving to yet another gem museum or group quilt-making class. There are people who enjoy this type of travel and that’s fantastic – but we’re not them! When we started Detours we figured there must be other travelers who just want to get a good group together and experience some of the world’s best places together. Travelers who happen to not only be gay, but also share a desire to meet great new people in a fun and open environment, and experience some unforgettable memories.
It’s coming up four years since Detours launched with just one destination and a hope that there were other travelers just like us out there. With our 6th and 7th destinations scheduled to be announced before our launch anniversary comes in July, and with hundreds of travelers finishing their trips grinning from ear to ear, it’s safe to say that there are travelers just like us. Our next three trips coming up next month are all sold out, almost entirely by guys who had never been on a group tour, but are now embarking on their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and even 5th group trip with us!
If you’ve never been on a “group tour” before, just know two things… that you’re not alone, and we’re confident it won’t be your last! Get in touch with us if you’d like to chat more about our trips or if we can connect you with any of our past travelers.
Jetting off to the other side of the world, into a new culture, with new people, new food, and new surroundings can be an incredibly exciting and exhilarating moment to look forward to. But it can also be a scary thought for some – especially if you’re traveling solo. What will the group be like? What if I’m the only solo traveler, will I feel left out? If you’re asking yourself these questions you’d probably be surprised and comforted to know that around 60% of travelers on DETOURS trips join solo, while the remaining 40-ish% join with a friend or a partner. Our solo travelers are usually looking for a fun setting to meet new people, sometimes looking to step out of their comfort zone, and always excited to see the world. It has always amazed us how a group of up to 15 unique people from all different backgrounds and places can come together in a beautiful place and bond so quickly. We like to think it has a lot to do with the atmosphere that we set right at the very first moments of a trip. Your trip leader gathers everyone together to simply chat and get to know each other casually over coffee or a beer in a local coffee shop or patio. It’s during these first minutes of relaxed friendly gatherings that really sets a welcome mood that lasts throughout the trip and usually far beyond it! If you’re joining us as a solo traveler, you’re not alone, and you can be assured a friendly welcome right off the bat. But don’t just take our word for it! Read well over 100 past traveler stories on our Trip Reviews page or Contact Us any time.
It’s with great appreciation that we accept the coveted TOUR OF THE YEAR award from our industry’s largest customer feedback based awards! Throughout 2015, thousands of reviews were collected for hundreds of tour companies all over the world and I want to take a moment to thank everyone who had a part in making us the #1 LGBT winner for 2015.
First, our trip leaders who are there with every group making absolutely sure that our guests are getting the most of their time in paradise by being organizers, friends, photographers, and all-around jack-of-all-trades. And of course our amazing travelers who have joined us on adventures all over the world. We really appreciate your support and are looking forward to many more adventures with you!
When we started Detours back in 2012, we had no idea just how many incredible, diverse people we would meet and befriend in our groups. It’s always fascinating to gather a bunch of guys, mostly strangers, from all over the world, and travel with them for a couple weeks in an exotic country. It’s got to be one of my favorite parts of what we get to do during our trips, especially the first day when everyone gathers for the first time.
It’s actually impossible to accurately describe who travels on our trips. A police officer from South Carolina, a married couple from South Africa, a full-time church organist from Delaware, a student from Argentina, a honeymooning couple from Brazil, a casting director from New York City, a chicken farmer from rural Ontario, an elementary school teacher from Toronto, a lawyer from Oregon… and the list goes on. What we do find is that just over half of guys who travel with us are solo travelers, while just under half are coming with a friend or a partner. Whatever the case, it’s a unique opportunity to spend quality time with a diverse group of people while creating a bond that can only come from experiencing a couple weeks in a completely new place together.
We really enjoy hearing about members of our groups continuing their new friendships well beyond the end of their trips despite the distance that often separates their homes. Many people end up flying to visit each other in their homes to keep the friendship going, or we often have big groups join onto another Detours trip each year together so that they can keep experiencing amazing new places all together!
If you have traveled with us in the past you know what it’s like, and if you’re a Detours newbie, we’re excited for you to experience our groups yourselves! Check out over 100 trip reviews from our travelers on our Trip Reviews page to get an idea of what a Detours trip is all about.
We get asked quite often “what’s your favorite destination?”. When we respond with “it’s like trying to choose a favorite child!” it’s really not in an effort to avoid the question or keep any of our destinations from feeling jealous – it’s the truth! All 5 of our current destinations (Thailand, Greece, Costa Rica, Peru, and Spain) have been chosen because we genuinely love them ourselves and are excited when we can share them with our travelers. I’ll try to explain a little bit about what why all of our destinations have a place in our heart.
When we first started Detours in 2012 we actually only offered trips to Thailand! It was the ideal place to start something that was to be built on sharing our favorite places in the world, and a place with a real personal connection. Although I had lived in a few countries prior to arriving in Thailand in January 2005, it was the first place where I was able to learn a completely new culture, new language and really understand these at a deep level. Now over 10 years later, it’s still a place that I get excited about sharing with people, from the physical beauty of the landscape to the beautiful culture that surrounds visitors.
Costa Rica quickly became Detours’ second destination and to anyone who has been it’s easy to see why! If you haven’t been, it’ll only take the first monkey jumping out of the tree beside you, the first cascading waterfall you shower under, or the first sip of wine while soaking in a hot springs pool in the jungle before you’ll learn for yourself. The natural beauty of Costa Rica cannot be missed, and that’s why we love to immerse ourselves in it. Our private villa has the luxuries of a private chef to keep us fed, our volcano-side bungalows feed that adventure craving, and our cliff-side oceanview rooms give us the vistas that keep us from ever putting our cameras away.
As our third destination, Greece had a lot to live up to when we launched our inaugural trip in June of 2014 and it has not disappointed. Where else can you start a trip with ruins of past civilizations, follow that by spending 3 days exploring a stunning island on a private ATV, then sail around the caldera of an extinct volcano at sunset, and finally head over to the gay Mecca of Mykonos for the jet-setting life of a famously gay island as the cherry on the top of the trip?
The thing about our fourth addition to Detours that really blows us away is the diversity of Peru! Of course Machu Picchu is iconic Peru and is an unforgettable sight to behold. But Peru definitely doesn’t start and end with Machu Picchu. Our travelers are always surprised when we go out on a boat to check out penguins in the Ballestas Islands, or when we jump in buggies to climb giant sand dunes for a landscape that takes our breath away. The food, diversity, unique culture, and jaw-dropping views all contribute to our love of Peru.
Spain is the latest addition to our roster, and is patiently waiting until 2016 to start proving itself to our travelers. It already hooked us long ago with both Dan and I both spending lots of time all over the country continually finding new ways to love it. To the horror of my family at home, I keep telling people that I could live here, but how could you not want to live here?! Our trip stops in the province of Andalucia show off traditional Spain with fortresses, flamenco dancing, and bull fighting, while our stops in Catalonia give us the “siestas and fiestas” coastal atmosphere that it’s famous for.
Whichever destination you’re joining us on next, we are excited to introduce you to these places we love and have no doubt you’ll fall in love with them too.
Quite understandably, we receive a lot of interest in becoming a Detours trip leader – or GAL (Global Adventure Leader) as we affectionately call them. And with the job description it’s easy to understand why! Who wouldn’t want to be flown to exotic countries tasked with the job of making sure a bunch of guys from around the world have an amazing trip together in paradise?! Make a bunch of new friends, show them your favorite local sites, introduce them to your local friends, find the best restaurants, the best views, and the little things that’ll put those long lasting smiles on everyone’s faces. It’s understandable why there is so much passion that comes with this job!
It’s a desirable job, and one that we hire for relatively rarely. We painstakingly search for the perfect people who are the jack-of-all-trades and the type of people who our Detours travelers will come to call close friends, not just at the end of their trip together, but within minute of meeting. The type of people who can be a genuine friend to all, a photographer, a storyteller, a problem-solver, an eternal optimist, a passionate explorer, a trusted guide, and a dependable maestro of a diverse group of people in a foreign land. While it is a desirable position for many people, it takes a very special person to effectively navigate all of these points.
This is why this week’s announcement of a new trip leader joining our Detours family is a big deal! We are very excited to welcome James to our family and are already completely confident that he will continue providing our travelers with the high level of service that they have come to expect from our family.
James’ recent story is one that some people will no doubt envy. While it took guts to leave his corporate job in Toronto, and set off following a dream and a passion through South America, he’ll tell you it is one of the best decisions of his life. He is a true traveler at heart and is genuinely excited by the people and places he has the opportunity to experience on the road.
He joins Dan who has been leading trips with Detours since early 2014 and quickly made lifelong friends with many of our travelers during his trips in Greece, Costa Rica, and Peru. Dan has proven to be “that guy” that will backflip off a boat, get giddy when pointing out penguins (he’s a zoologist too), and introduce you to the many local people he meets along his travels.
And last but certainly not least, Shane is our Thailand guy with the infectious smile that never quits, and the determination to make sure nobody runs out of whatever they need to keep them having a blast! He’s a true adventurer and the type of guy that craves being outdoors surrounded by people, or his little beagle if he’s adventuring close to home.
Whether your upcoming trip is being led by James, Dan, Shane (or me!), all of our trip leaders have that true essence of all that we, and our travelers, look for in a trip leader. If you’ve met them already you already know what I mean, and if you have yet to be on an adventure, you’ll soon find out. Learn more about our team here.