Why travelling to Bali after a break-up was the best thing I ever did and led to Travel Queen!
Hi, I'm Mel; this is my story about how travelling alone for the first time, while going through my divorce, led me to set up Travel Queen group tours for women!
Travel obsessed from an early age
Now I know everyone loves their holidays but I am seriously passionate about travel, and I've always been that way since a little girl. Maybe it's because the first ever holiday abroad I was meant to go on when I was five was snatched away when I started hobbling around with a funny limp a few weeks before, only to end up with my leg strapped up in a hospital bed for two weeks. Needless to say, I was gutted.
So when the following year's holiday came around, I was beyond excited! We're talking daily reviews of different holiday brochures with my Dad to find an angle of the pool not seen before, starting a travel diary in the house before the taxi to the airport had even arrived, and going on to record every last detail of the journey from start to finish. Boarding passes got glued in. Dad's mid-flight empty peanuts bag, that got stuck in. Sand off the beach, that went in. You get the idea!
Let the travelling begin...
After years of loving my family holidays I couldn't wait to go 'proper travelling' when I was old enough. So, as soon as I hit 18 I went travelling for three months to Canada and America with my boyfriend at the time. I absolutely loved it, and was hooked. Since then I've managed to build travel into my life on a fairly regular basis, regardless of whether I can afford it, have the holidays to do it, or even whether I have someone to go with or not - I'm a big believer that anything is possible if you really want to make it happen!
Other trips included a year out from uni around the world and working in Australia with the same boyfriend (who I had to make an awkward phone call to from Buenos Aires on the way out with my friend Rachel to explain I'd missed my flight to meet him in Oz after 3 months apart... because we were drinking wine at a tango show when we should have been at the airport...but that's another story!) Then a few years later I convinced a new boyfriend to go travelling and we enjoyed two fantastic long trips to Thailand over the course of a few years, and we even got married there on the second trip!
Newly single in my 30s and still wanting to travel
Unfortunately things didn't work out for us, and I found myself still desperate to go travelling, but for the first time with no one to come with me. All my friends were settled down and while we would have weekends away the bulk of people's holidays are usually spent with their other halves. So I decided, what the hell, I'll go on my own. I saved up all my holidays and amazingly managed to convince work to let me take them all at once in the lead up to Christmas, which gave me a brilliant five and a half weeks to play with so I decided on somewhere I'd always wanted to go, Bali. (Which is one of the amazing group tours for women that I now run, and you can check it out on the link below!)
As I'd travelled a lot, I was fine with flying out and even spending some time on my own out there. but I also knew it would be more fun if I knew I would definitely have some company and meet other people to enjoy it with. So, before I went I put a huge amount of time into researching the hundreds of different group tours out there, (with a big focus on finding ones that wouldn't make me feel too old!), then I picked several of the best to fill most of my trip and booked them before I left.
Discovering there was nothing out there for women like me
A long story short is that during my whole experience of researching then doing 'the best' of these group tours, I discovered that there is nothing out there tailored to women like me and what I was looking for. I wanted real adventures and experiences, to see exciting places and have fun with others, with a little luxury or a gorgeous place maybe thrown in here and there, but without being ripped off!
I wanted to travel with other like-minded people, and I did meet some lovely people but they were all sooooo much younger than me that at times I felt a bit like their Mum! And that's with researching the tours that do cover 18 year olds but also 'all the way up to 35 with an even spread of ages'. Well, in reality, it turned out that if you were in your mid 20s you were considered to be getting on a bit, never mind over the 30 mark!
I paid a decent amount for each of the tours, and while some parts were good value, some of the places we stayed can only be described as dumps, and we always seemed to be following the masses. And that's where the experienced traveller in me kicked in. I started to feel like I was being ripped off for staying in rubbish places and frustrated that they hadn't found better places and experiences a little different for the tour, as I knew that you could find real gems for great value and undiscovered highlights if you were prepared to put in the work to get to know a place.
Creating a new kind of group tour to cater for a real gap in the market
Basically, all this just left me with an overwhelming feeling that I could do this all so much better! And that it would be amazing to create a new kind of tour for women that are that little bit older than the masses of really young people that the existing tours cater for, but too young for the next big group catered for, which is the over 60s.
I also didn't feel like booking onto one of the many 'singles' or more subtle 'mixed solos' type holidays for fear of having to appear interested in meeting someone or being stuck with unwanted attention for days, sorry if that sounds big headed but you know what I mean! What I really wanted at the time was to travel with my mates and have a fantastic girls' holiday, but they weren't available.
Why all women and not mixed, and is the tour just for singles?
All this got me thinking that a group tour dedicated to women might be really popular, whether those women were single or not. Maybe you are with someone but they don't want to go where you want to go, fancy doing what you'd like to do, or maybe they're just not as adventurous! Maybe they would like to go, but can't get the time away from work or family. Or maybe you are single but not necessarily looking to meet someone but just a great holiday with the girls.
Or maybe you just want to do something for yourself.
How going travelling on your own changes you...for the better
Now obviously I've written this post to explain how many of the negatives that I experienced, in terms of group tours, led me to set up Travel Queen. But I must also get across the massive positives that I got out of going travelling for the first time on my own. Some of these terms might sound cliche, but who cares it's true. If you want to feel more independent, proud of yourself, liberated, confident, with greater self esteem, less bothered that you're single / with someone less adventurous / generally bored with life, or if you just plain want to be happier or have an amazing experience...then in my opinion you will find no better solution than making the decision to go for it and go travelling.
For me, there were really unexpected times during the trip when I felt so happy and proud of myself, especially after a difficult break-up and life at home feeling like it was getting more and more complicated, that I literally experienced butterflies, giddiness or tears of joy; I don't care how cheesy that might sound, it's true!
Going travelling on my own wasn't just the best thing I ever did because it gave me the idea to set up a business that I'm incredibly passionate about. It also gave me the confidence in myself that I could go on to make that dream a reality, after a period in my life where I had actually lost a little confidence and independence.
Oh, and I had an amazing break from work with lots of great trips, sunbathing, eating fantastic food and watching stunning sunsets to help me cope too!
The only thing that was missing was the company and as a result, more fun. But if you come on one of our group tours you won't have to worry about that at all!
Travel Queen was born!
So, in the end, my personal experience led me to create a business offering a new kind of group tour, that I haven't been able to find anywhere else out there. Real adventures in interesting destinations but with a little luxury, for women who either would never go on their own, or that might but would prefer the fun of travelling with other like-minded women - who don't want to feel old with a load of 18 year olds, or to slum it on a typical backpacking trip!
I put my heart, soul and sooo much time travelling around every destination in person (starting with Thailand in 2018 and eventually getting back to Bali to plan our latest adventure in 2022), to create amazing group tours for women that I really believe are trips of a lifetime. I have direct relationships with all the hotels, boat companies and activity providers that I work with (and who I've met in person - see some of them below!) and they've all met strict legal and financial requirements through my membership of the Travel Trust Association (equivalent to ABTA) as a fully licensed tour operator, which also means you are guaranteed 100% financial protection.
My personal promise to you
My personal promise to you, is that if you give me your precious holiday time, I will give you an amazing adventure you might never have imagined or even considered, but will never forget, and I'll introduce you to a group of women looking for exactly what you are to share it with, that could become lifelong friends.
I really hope you go for it, because when I did, it genuinely turned out to be the best thing I ever did.
If you'd like to chat just give me a call on 07967 788845.
Mel, Owner of Travel Queen x