travel sleuth

travel sleuth

Solo Travel As a Business and Lifestyle Phenomenon

Posted on November 6, 2018 in Uncategorized

“The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” – Henry David Thoreau

If the statistics are any indicator, many travelers agree with Thoreau. In increasing numbers, individuals are traveling alone rather than just waiting for others to join them.

Solo travelers in the recent past have totaled 21 million in just the US and UK combined. According to a New York Times article in Nov. 2012, Internet searches for “solo travel packages” were up 60% over the prior year. The US Department of Commerce’s Office of Travel & Tourism Industries (“OTTI”) reported that a staggering 42% of U.S. citizens/residents that went abroad in 2011 traveled alone. Of those individual travelers, 38% traveled for leisure or to visit friends & relatives (“VFR”) and 66% for business. Similarly, inbound solo travelers from abroad totaled 36.2%. Of those, 23.6% were on leisure trips and and 62.2% for work. This business and lifestyle phenomenon has been growing exponentially.

Who are solo travelers?

Solo travelers are a much broader group than just the single population. They may be:

• Two-career couples on business travel or “DINK’S” (Dual Income No Kids).

• Those with relatives or friends abroad.

• Family members pursuing separate sports/hobbies overseas.

Abercrombie & Kent’s Jill Fawcett has described their solo travelers as: “often… married or have partners, but the spouses don’t share the same interest… They want to travel with like-minded people and the small group gives them some interaction. Then they go back to the privacy of their own room… 25% of people who opt for our Extreme Adventure series are (also) solo travelers,” she said. “People feel a little more secure in a group if the destination is intimidating or there’s a language barrier.” Solo Travel Is Growing at a Rapid Rate | Phil Hoffman travel blog, 10/25/11.

According to Grand Circle Corp chairman Alan Lewis, “Women are a growing force in the solo travel market… where the solo market has grown from about 20% to 25% of [Grand Circle’s] overall bookings during the past five years.”

Single travelers do still continue to play an active role in solo travel. Their growth is clear in Europe and North America where people are marrying later and may be divorced, widowed or never married. According to a March 19, 2013 article entitled “The Growing Solo Travel Market”,, average single households total as follows:

• 35% of all households in developed countries

• 40% in Finland and Norway (2011)

• 37% in the Netherlands (2011)

• 27% in the US (2010), 29% in the UK (2011) and 28% in Canada (2011).

How do solos travel?

Solo travel may not necessarily mean traveling as a “group of one”. Individuals may choose

1. Escorted group tours

2. Independent tours

3. Travel alone and select their own hotels/tours

What Issues Confront Those Traveling Alone?

There are two main challenges for individual travelers.

• Attractive pricing: Lodging, tours and cruises are priced routinely on double occupancy. Most cruises and tours require a single supplement for those traveling alone. Although this is not necessarily 2X, the price differential can be substantial. This is most pronounced in tour packages, particularly cruises that have “2-for-the-price of 1” early booking promotionals. As a result, those traveling alone may pay 3-4X couples/pairs.

• Top quality access and service: In a busy holiday or tourist season, the unaccompanied traveler may be given less desirable accommodations or tables in restaurants. In fact, even 5 star hotels may be unwilling to take a dinner reservation for one even when the individual traveler is a guest of the hotel. This is particularly true on Saturday nights and holidays. The alternative may be sitting at the bar for dinner notwithstanding that the dining room has vacant tables. On cruises/river cruises or other tours with “open seating”, tables are typically set up for even numbers. The result? These travelers are faced with a “standup” buffet or engaging in sleuthing to find an available seat.

What is The Business Opportunity?

This travel phenomenon is growing exponentially and still represents an underserved niche. The opportunity for the industry is substantial, prioritized as follows:

Leisure travelers: They are the largest percentage of industry revenues. However, a smaller percentage go alone for leisure trips. The beneficiaries: airlines, hotels, tours, car and concierge services.

Business travelers: Although a small portion of revenues, a greater percentage are on business. Moreover, they may have a larger budget than an individual on vacation. The same industry segments would benefit with the exception of tours except as potential additions to an international trip.

VFR: Those visiting friends and relatives may be met at the airport and have access to local transportation. While staying in a private residence, meals may not be taken out as frequently as hotel guests. Accordingly, such travelers will continue to generate new revenue primarily for airlines but are unlikely to augment the existing market for other travel services.

This sector represents a largely untapped market. Given the sheer numbers of affluent professionals and business executives, with the right mix of well-priced, top quality offerings, both sides benefit. The travel industry will increase their existing revenues while those traveling alone will achieve more competitive pricing and access to higher quality. It is a market whose time has come.

Nottingham and Robin Hood

Posted on November 4, 2018 in Uncategorized

The English city of Nottingham has many unique features that set it apart from towns of comparable size in the East Midlands, but the one thing for which the city receives recognition around the globe is the fantastic legend of Robin Hood, and his arch nemesis the Sheriff of Nottingham. The name and trappings of his story are well recognized symbols of the city and the county of Nottinghamshire.

The mighty outlaw Robin Hood was a folk hero who was said to dwell in the depths of Sherwood Forest to the north of Nottingham, returning to civilized roads and places only to rob the rich in order to feed the poor. He used his iconic longbow to fight injustice, in the person of the Sheriff or Prince John. But was he real?

Well, Sherwood Forest and Nottingham certainly are, but other than that, it seems almost impossible to tell. As early as the 1200s, the term “Robinhood” or “Robbehod” was being used by justices in England as a placeholder name for any fugitive or outlaw, and it seems that an oral tradition grew up around the figure. The legend first appeared in fiction in “Piers Plowman” in the late 1300s, where a priest confesses he knows the “rymes of Robyn Hood” better than his Paternoster. Poems and stories about the exploits of Robin Hood, Little John, Will Scarlet, and the rest of his Merry Men multiplied and grew with the telling over the following centuries, and his tales were among the first to be gathered and printed in books, when printing was introduced to England in the 16th century. However, the tales shift about radically in time and place, and it’s doubtful there was ever a real personage behind the tales — except in the way that interesting real happenings were added to the famous legend.

The question of his real existence doesn’t seem to trouble the residents of Nottingham. In modern times, local signage describes Nottinghamshire as “Robin Hood County”, and uses a bow and arrow to direct travellers; a railway between Nottingham and Worksop was dubbed “The Robin Hood Line”. There are many local landmarks which are said to be part of the Robin Hood mystique.

The “Major Oak” is a gigantic tree in the heart of Sherwood Forest (near the village of Edwinstowe) which is said to have been Robin Hood’s home and headquarters. It is certainly more than 800 years old; its trunk is 33 feet in circumference, and it’s estimated to weigh some 23 tons.

The Sherwood Forest itself is now reduced to 460 acres of county park, designated as a National Nature Reserve. It hosts some 500,000 visitors annually, many of which come for the annual Robin Hood Festival each August.

In the centre of the city of Nottingham, the Old Market Square is said to be the place where Hood won his silver arrow from the Sheriff of Nottingham in an archery contest. The deep-toned bell within the dome of the Council House to one side of the square is nicknamed “Little John”. An iconic bronze Robin Hood Statue, featuring the outlaw firing his bow, stands near to the square.

About two miles to the north-east of Nottingham on Wells Road, an ancient well was rediscovered in a car park in 1987. Some historical sleuthing established that this was the well first known as the “Owswell”, and later “St. Anne’s Well”, but as early as 1500 had been dubbed “Robin Hood’s Well” because of a story about a brawl involving the Merry Men upon the site. The well had been covered over and lost during the construction of a railway line in 1887.

Nottingham Castle plays a key part in some Robin Hood myths. The historical castle was first built of wood in 1067, then replaced with a stone castle by Henry I in the early 1100s. When Richard the Lionheart left regents to rule in his stead when he left on the Third Crusade in 1190, his brother Prince John was left behind to scheme for the throne. John attacked and seized Nottingham castle in 1194, and Richard had to lay siege to it to get him out again after his return. That stone castle was finally razed in 1649, and the current castle mansion is very different; however, the stone caves and dungeons beneath the hill on which it sits are still said to be tinged with some of Robin Hood’s romance.

For the visitor fascinated by the Robin Hood myth and imagery, there are numerous tours, guidebooks, and gift shops centred around the outlaw. There is even a tourist attraction called “The Tales of Robin Hood”, taking visitors through a recreated medieval countryside in “adventure cars” to witness scenes from the legend, then returning them to a banqueting hall for an authentic medieval feast.

Those who love history, adventure, and swashbuckling fun will all find what they are looking for in Nottingham.


Jitterbug Perfume

Posted on November 3, 2018 in Uncategorized

“Subatomic particles apparently de- and rematerialize fairly routinely…some of them actually can be in two places at once. Their freedom from the normal confines of the space time continuum is thought to be the result of a weird electricity, an intelligent, creative, playful, and unpredictable interaction among oppositely charged entities in motion.”

“When interrogated about how they can walk through flames without being burned, ‘primitives’ have conveyed to anthropologists that they raise the vibratory level of their flesh to equal that of the fire. In like manner, then, an adept might raise-or lower- his or her vibratory rate to match that of another dimension, thereby disappearing from our customary universe and popping up in the other: dematerialization.”

Tom Robbins

It began for me in 1984, when the book Jitterbug Perfume was first released. I remember falling in love with Tom Robbins writing, and soon devoured most of his books. Honestly, I had forgotten the story for many years, but late last summer, a very dear friend, my twin, with whom I have practiced lucid dreaming and time travel, (which is quite another story) called me up and said, “Have you read Jitterbug Perfume lately?”

I said “No, I haven’t read it for years and years.”

He replied, “Get the book and read it, it is our story.”

So I purchased the book, packed it in my suitcase and set off for Santa Fe to study with one of the world’s leading distillers of essential oils.

The first day of the workshop, the distiller said, “If you never read another book about essential oils, the only book you have to read is Jitterbug Perfume.”

You might be thinking, as I did, this is a sign, for sitting in my backpack was the book, longing for my attention.

I never did get the chance to read it on that trip, but came home and was immediately absorbed by the book. The more I read, the more I was moved, commanded, impulsed and compelled to begin a quest to make this aromatic elixir.

I marched into Farmer and the Cook, our local farm to table restaurant and organic food store, where I sought out the farmer, Steve Sprinkel, synchronistically finding him in his office.

“Steve,” I said, “I need beet pollen.” (Beet pollen being one of the main ingredients in Jitterbug Perfume).

Steve laughed and looked up, “Jitterbug Perfume!”

“Yes,” I replied, “how did you know??”

“I remember the book…” he said “I have just planted beets and you can have a couple of rows. They must vernalize in order to set flowers, so by next year, you will have pollen.”

So I went out to the farm and began to commune with my beets, anxiously awaiting the coming Winter and subsequent Spring and the coming of beet flowers. I spent many afternoons watching those beets grow, and finally in mid March, the first flowers set. I went out one day and the aroma of beet flowers was wafting through the warm Spring day.

Now for those of you who have not experienced the smell of beet flowers, it is not a particularly lovely smell, but rather a musky, goaty, smell that on occasion gave off the odor of old dirty socks. Lovely you say, no, not lovely, but very earthy, primal.

The beet flowers instructed me in how to harvest, I was never in charge, they were the teacher all along. I spent the next 5 months visiting the farm twice weekly, spending hours harvesting beet pollen and flowers to make the fabled Jitterbug Perfume.

If you have not read the book, you might consider picking up a copy, it is a marvelous read, and in it you will learn that it is a book about immortality and time travel, with Jitterbug Perfume being the main ingredient for both of those adventures.

I was driven to make this perfume and contacted Tom Robbins, after sleuthing out his address, and told him, that as eccentric as I might be, I believed with all of my heart, that Jitterbug Perfume was true, it was real, and that I was endeavoring to make the perfume, as I was, and am now even more so, convinced it was a tool for time travel, an elixir of immortality, and would love to be able to call the resultant perfume, Jitterbug.

Much to my delight and surprise he wrote me back saying that even though the events in the book didn’t actually happen it was indeed a true story and that I had his full permission to use the name Jitterbug Perfume if I was successful in my endeavor. Well, successful I was and then some!!

And so, under the dark of a New Moon in August, the first bottle was done. I shipped the first bottle to Mr. Robbins, and he was delighted and thrilled with it, telling me that I have indeed made he and his book proud!!

Jitterbug has given me very specific instructions in how it is to be used, and I have obeyed its every request. The experiences people are having continue to make me shake my head in absolute wonder and amazement.

It is definitely amrita for the olfactory system and an elixir of immortality. I will be reporting more as time goes along, but one thing Jitterbug has told me that it is not to be offered commercially, and it is my duty to prepare people to experience the perfume. Jitterbug seems to have a power and presence and knows exactly what each person needs and takes them where they need to go! I have been amazed at the power of this magical elixir!

I am the humble servant of Jitterbug Perfume and feel honored to be so!