Updated: Jul 3, 2018
Here on Wandering Soup, we are always talking about solo, couple and, in the future, family travel. What we don't talk about is group or organized travel. That situation was easily remedied when a friend of mine celebrated her bornday by going to Cancun Mexico with Olivia Travel. I told her to enjoy but expect some questions when you get back!
Below is the conversation that was had. Enjoy and here's to seeing you on an Olivia Travel trip in the not so distant future.
First question is always the easiest, who is Kim J?
Event planner and organizer with the LGBTQ community for over 15 years; an advocate for the rights of Women and Girls, and a community advocate in the City of Detroit. I’m a Detroit vs Everybody Kinda Girl; a proud native Detroiter, you will always see me with Detroit Gear on hand while traveling.
Why do you think you travel? Any inspirations?
My family is from the south so there were many summer trips in the car driving to GA for family visits. After a while my parents began to explore more than Georgia during the summer. We did mini trips to travel destinations that were a short car ride away such as Niagara Falls, Chatham Canada, and Toronto throughout the years. In later years I began Pride organizing and I traveled to surrounding cities for promotion and inspiration. I would start my travel season in DC and travel to area prides until Hotter Than July (Detroit’s Black Gay Pride Celebration). I would regroup in Atlanta with Atlanta’s Black Pride during Labor Day Weekend.
Now I travel for fun, I have taken several cruises and a few trips abroad. I like cruises because they give you the opportunity to see several different places at one time exploring the ports of call at your leisure. This last trip with Olivia in Cancun, was a 7 day resort trip and I enjoyed exploring the resort and the amenities of the Club Med Grounds.
Are you more of a solo or group traveler?
I like travelling alone or with an individual. Not really big on ‘group travels’ per say but I will tour with a group and then do my own thing once I reach my destination. I love to explore and do things off the beaten path. I also like to travel on my leisure, or be at my own pace when I’m away.
What made you decide on an Olivia Trip versus other group trip offerings?
I have been watching Olivia grow for several years now. This trip was an opportunity to do two things that I have always wanted to do at once. I have always wanted to travel to Cancun and I have always wanted to travel with Olivia. I gifted this trip to myself as a 50th Birthday celebration. Originally, I’d wanted to invite a host of friends but I decided to live the Olivia experience on my own for my first trip to see what it was like to travel with them. I was not disappointed.
Cancun was a bucket list trip, and a destination that has been on my list since I was a teen. I have been to other places in Mexico (Cozumel and Costa Maya) and have always felt at home when I travel there. There are a few more cities that I would like to visit in Mexico; Guadalupe, Acapulco, Playa Del Carmen, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta; while I make my traveling rounds.
What was your favorite part of the trip?
I liked the fact that guests had so many choices of things to do. There were meet ups with ‘Sisters At Play’ for Women of Color and Their Friends, solo meet ups for ladies that came on their own, Under 40’s events and Meet Up for OWL (Older Wise Lesbians). Traveling by myself these events gave me the opportunity to meet people that I would not have normally interacted with. I did the solo lunch, the Sister’s at Play meet and greet and lunch and the OWLs meet and greet. At every event I met people that I hadn’t seen in passing at the resort.
When I received my original itinerary I was excited but it was just a short preview of things to come, once I reached the resort I received an updated itinerary which included lots more options. The schedule of events was also displayed in the main lobby of the resort and because we had weather issues, was updated with alternative events. There was never a dull moment, Olivia gave you many things to do.
Did you go with a particular plan in mind such as to party or to meet new friends? I went with no expectations; I did plan for the theme parties but only made it to two nights of partying; my plan was to see firsthand what traveling with this group was like. I wanted to see what the demographics were with my own eyes. The demographic view is very limited in the brochures, and it was interesting to see their audience. 10% African American, another 10% of the ladies travel from other countries. There was about 20% under 40. It was a very diverse audience that gave me a sense of community. Not sure what I expected but I was impressed with the numbers and those in attendance. The staff was amazing and very helpful as well. They actually WORKED their tails off.
Did you go on any excursions? If so was the process simple? Worth the extra dollars?
I scheduled my one excursion as soon as I got to the resort, the process was very easy. I booked one of the least expensive excursion and the excursions ranged from $35-$200+ just depending on what you wanted to do. I personally got to live through my roommate who went on an excursion almost every day. She enjoyed them all from shopping in the city to a horseback riding tour that led them to a pond for a swim before heading back. It was easy to book and easy to exchange. My excursion got canceled because of weather; I booked a moonlight boat tour; and I was refunded my money with no problems.
Would you recommend an Olivia trip to a new traveler?
I would recommend Olivia for a new traveler. One reason is because you are quickly embraced by everyone on the trip. First timers receive a pink wristband that identifies you as a newbie and for solo travelers you get a silver dog tag to wear so that everyone knows that you are alone. I got invited to many tables because of my wristband and made new friends along the way. Olivia also prides itself on their ability to provide exclusivity, so you are surrounded by your sisters and embraced during your travels.
Are you planning any future trips with Olivia?
I would love to do Olivia again in the future. The goal for my next trip is to do a promo trip for people in my area so that we can travel and bask in the Olivia experience together. For me a promo trip would be better served at a Resort and I’m thinking about the Hard Rock 2019 or Club Med the next time they go.
You mentioned bucket list, what's next on your list?
I have tons of places on my bucket list; Amsterdam, Thailand and Guadeloupe top my bucket list for travel abroad. There are also many beautiful places in the USA that I want to experience, my top US spots are Maine for Lobster and Portland Oregon, Seattle and unexplored areas of California.
Any advice for those just beginning to travel?
Don’t wait on people to go with you. If you are not use to doing thing alone start small, going for coffee and dinner alone or to the movies by yourself. Learn what it’s like to enjoy your own company because there will be times when your friends are not interested in doing what is on your spirit to do.
If you are traveling in a group, somebody needs to put together an itinerary. Doesn’t have to be anything major just something that gives you a start so that you are not stuck trying to figure out what to do. That is often a big time waster and an argument starter between friends, head that off with having a few items planned for the day.
Lastly, be fluid with your plans and open to new experiences. I remember traveling to Disney one year with a friend, we both had been there several times before and though I enjoyed the Disney experience I also had an internet friend who was doing her first stage production. Because my traveling buddy was open I was able to meet my internet friend in person and got to see her play. I also met a few other people that I would not have had to privy of meeting during that trip had we not gone to the play. It was awesome. Being opened to that experience gave us both the opportunity to explore and be outside of our norm.
--Thanks Kim for such a great insight into the ins and out of an Olivia Travel trip. Can't wait til the wife and I go.