Back in 2008, Dave and Deb traded in their careers in the film industry for a lifestyle devoted to worldwide adventures. Since then, the husband-and-wife duo has made a living exploring the globe and capturing it all on their travel blog theplanetD.com. This past year, they joined Go Ahead travelers on our Scandinavia tour, where they took in the mind-blowing scenery and modern Nordic cities of Bergen, Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Helsinki. Here, we talk about their time on tour, plus the importance of travel and the perks of group tours for savvy travelers like themselves.
Your blog takes you around the globe, but you’d never been to Scandinavia. Any big surprises?
Deb: Bergen, Norway! I hadn’t really heard of it before, but there is really just so much to do there. The outdoors, the museums, the market, the waterfront—it was beautiful!
Dave: For me, Stockholm. I didn’t really know what to expect but I didn’t think it was going to be so picturesque. I was impressed with the history and the beauty of the city, and the Old Town was fantastic. Copenhagen was another great surprise, especially Tivoli Gardens. When our Tour Director Derek suggested we go to Tivoli Gardens, we weren’t so sure—we’re not really amusement park people. But it was amazing! He said to go at night, and I can see why. It was so alive—just fantastic.
Deb: Overall, every time we got to a new destination, the introductory sightseeing tour gave us a good overview of the major highlights, and several of these tours took us to more under-the-radar spots that we wouldn’t have otherwise seen, like the Edvard Grieg Museum in Bergen, the Norwegian Fjords cruise, and the Viking Museum in Oslo.
Travel is personal and our tours really embrace that. How did that come to life for you two in Scandinavia?
Deb: The various tours each seemed to touch on different interests. Like Bergen, for example, was all about arts and culture and we did a lot of museums. Then in Oslo, there was a lot of Viking history. Throughout the trip, there was something for everyone! Personally, I loved the amount of free time we had with Go Ahead. Of course, you have the choice to go with the group the whole time, but we also felt really comfortable going off on our own. There was no pressure from the group or the Tour Director to always stay together. Our Tour Director gave us lots of options. Whenever we got to a new place, he would say, “Okay I’m going to do a walking tour if you want to come with me.” And if not, he’d give some recommendations.
Dave: Exactly—and Derek had been to all these places so many times. He’d suggest things that weren’t necessarily on the itinerary but were based on our interests. He took the time to talk to everyone in the group and find out what they’re into, so his recommendations were always based on people’s interests. The guide really makes a big difference, and that personal connection of him asking everyone about their interests was huge.
Deb: Having the option to go off and explore on our own was important to me. We love adventure—anything that pushes us outside our comfort zone a bit and gets us out in nature. One of our highlights was a hike on Mount Ulriken in Bergen. All the locals were out hiking, and we really felt like we were a part of their world.
As savvy independent travelers, what was it like to travel on a group tour?
Dave: We’ve always been a little hesitant about group tours: What if I don’t like the people on my tour? Do I have to stick to everything and be locked into an itinerary? But like we said before, the balance of free time on a Go Ahead tour was huge for us. Plus, group tours allow you to see a lot in a short time with everything planned out for you.
Deb: We were really amazed. Dave and I went off on our own a lot, more than other people, because that’s our style of travel. We had Go Ahead taking care of us getting to and from each destination and giving us the highlights, and then we made the trip our own from there.
Why do you think it’s important that people travel?
Deb: I think travel is the best education anyone can have—and it’s a fun education! Every time we go somewhere, we always say “Oh we learned this in school but we never really understood until we went to the destination.” Plus, it really breaks down barriers. There’s a lot going on in the world right now, but when you go to a destination and you have the chance to meet the people, it’s so much easier to understand the culture.
Dave: I think travel is important for personal growth as well. Beyond learning about the destination, when you go somewhere new and talk to people who live a different life and do things differently than you do, you end up learning about yourself too.
Inspired by this traveling duo? Us too! Why do you think travel is important? Tell us in the comments below.