Birthdays are a time for celebrations, and a time to reflect on the memories that got you there.
Our birthday is 24 August and this year 2020 marks our 14th birthday.  It is fourteen years since we switched on the green light, and ‘went live’ with our website.

Each year has always marked something new for us but this year, ‘the new’  was not such a welcome addition to our experiences.  Like all travel companies, the entire travel industry and travellers all over the world, it’s been a hard by COVID-19, as this beast has wreaked havoc across our globe.

Right now there’s some dark clouds over ‘travel’.  For the most, travel usually gives us the feeling of exciting and happy times; bright blue skies and fluffy white clouds.  Although it’s very different this year, our birthday is still a chance to reflect on what has been achieved in our fourteen years, and also find a silver lining for the way forward.

In our fourteen years, every year has brought something new.  As more years pass the early days become a distant memory.  I thought that for our birthday this year it would be a good time to remember where it all began. 

Here’s looking back to our first year, with 5 facts you may not have known.

  1. We Didn’t Start With Holidays

Many may not know that when I started the business it was foremost an events company for singles with our offer of dinner events for singles.  As the holidays grew in popularity, after a few years, our dinner events took a back seat and the mainstay became tours and cruises for solo travellers.

Although our match making dinners aren’t around anymore I can’t forget they were life changing for some of our single customers – there’s been weddings, life long partnerships and friendships created as a result of couples meeting at our dinners.

2.         The First Ever Holiday
It was Daydream Island, Whitsundays Queensland that marked our first ever singles holiday group. It was November 2006 and it was an amazing way to the start a long list of resorts trips, tours and cruises over our fourteen years. Daydream Island has had a few face lifts since 2006 and in 2019 it reopened after many years of closure with its latest major refurbishment and new look. As our first ever destination, I’ll always have a special place in my memories for Daydream Island and why it was very sentimental when we returned to the island with our first New Year’s Daydream Island resort group December 2019.

3.         The First Ever Tour
After a number of local trips in Australia we spread our wings in 2007 with our first ever international tour and it was to Vietnam. It’s our longest standing tour and year in, year out is a favourite with a lot of solo travellers.

4.         We Kicked Off Cruising
The Hawaiian Island was our first cruise group, with over 35 solo travellers joining me as we cruised (and partied) 7 nights on The Pride of America and visited some of the iconic Hawaiian Islands.  At the time we didn’t know some years later, cruising would became a main stay for us as more cruise ships joined Australian waters.

  1. Our T.V Moment

Our first ever holiday to Daydream Island was also momentous because we attracted the attention of a popular travel show of the time, The Great Outdoors.  The joined us for our singles holiday on the island with Shelley Craft, who continues to me a well-known TV personality mingling with the group and sharing some of our stories to living rooms across Australia

While we’re limited by travel bans out of and into Australia, and closed state borders see us even more confined than we could ever imagine I’m still looking forward.  There has to be something good come out of chaos. Our birthday this year marks the introduction of our resort based, Freedom Escapes.

Freedom Escapes Solos Only have just been announced; first up for Daydream Island, Queensland and Kingscliff, New South Wales.

‘Freedom Escapes’ are a rejig of our long-standing resort getaways, aimed at avoiding the challenges of covid-19 cross state travel bans. They are trips that can still depart even when there are state by state travel bans.

 

About the author

Justine Waddington

Justine Waddington is the founder and director of Encounter Travel, a company that creates holiday groups exclusively for solo travellers. As a solo traveller with 60 countries under her belt and 14 years of leading travel groups, Justine is in the unique position of being able to offer tips and advice from the perspective of an experienced solo traveller and also that of a travel agent.

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