These FAQs will answer a number of questions you may have about me, Sally Blyth, why I set up the services and why I’m passionate about this offering.
Why did you decide to set up this service?
The answer is a little complex but the idea initially stemmed from a trip I did with my late mother-in-law Muriel. Throughout my travels and dealings with people over several decades, I noticed that some people, especially in the older age bracket, would speak of how much they wanted to travel, but they didn’t feel they could tackle it on their own as they got older and/or more frail. Or they were continuing to travel, but it was becoming an effort and too much like hard work. But they didn’t want to face that fact.
With busy family members, friends passing away, health deteriorating – travel can get put in the too-hard basket. It can become daunting, something you feel you can no longer accomplish alone. But – with support, it is definitely something that can be enjoyed well into later life!
Having led many group tours around the world, my passion for travel and people continues to grow. Inevitably, when taking groups of seniors on tour, there will be some who have mobility issues, dementia, COPD, frailty etc. Whilst it is the tour leader’s job to manage things so such issues don’t impact on the wider group, this can be challenging. And, generally, these conditions only get worse rather than better. So I thought I’d set up a service that caters for people who need that extra bit of support. And I did!
Muriel’s CruiseMy late mother-in-law Muriel was a well-travelled and independent woman but had got to a point in life where travelling alone was no longer possible. She often talked of wanting to go on a cruise so, at the age of 92, we headed off for a cruise in Tahiti. It was a fantastic holiday and she remembered it for the rest of her life. She passed away in 2017 aged 97 and memories of this trip were with her until her dying day. This is what I want to enable for others who have the same travel dreams.
From this expedition, and my own observations as a tour leader, came the inkling of this idea to set up a service for people who need more individual support or prefer the one-on-one experience.
Sometimes the reticence to take the bold step and travel outweighs the desire to make it happen. I am proud to be able to offer personal and professional travel services to assist people to take that step. The thing is, if you leave it another year, you’re only going to be a year older when and if you do it. Leave it any longer and you may not be able to do it at all.
What do you consider the most important part of your services?
Travelling with a BEYOND PTC removes worry and angst from any trip you undertake. We understand the delights of travel, as well as the pitfalls, and everything in between. No one wants difficulties to deal with while on holiday and one of our main roles is trouble-shooting so that problems don’t arise. Of course, we take care of any problems if they do (but let’s hope not!) A smooth seamless trip is the aim of the game – and the main thing is that you don’t need to worry, because your PTC will sort things out.
What makes you suitable and well-equipped to be a PTC?
My life’s journey has enabled me to amass an eclectic set of skills that is ideal for this role. People and travel are my passions. I have travelled with, assisted, hosted and cared for people from every continent and many cultures, as well as working with people with disabilities, from blindness to quadraplegia. I’ve organised groups of 100+ as well as small groups of less than 10. I’ve back-packed and I’ve enjoyed 5-star hotels. I understand the nuances of travel – from the delights and luxuries to the pitfalls and hardships – and everything in between. I aim to eliminate the pitfalls and hardships!
I have a natural affinity with elderly people and a good understanding of the various needs and nuances associated with the inevitability of ageing. I also have experience with people with disabilities and mental illness.
I am flexible and adaptable as well as culturally and socially savvy. I have many interests. Conversation comes easy. Enabling a good time, wherever that may be, is top of my list!
Do you speak any foreign languages?
I love languages! I have a reasonably good knowledge of French and German, and a smattering of Italian and Spanish. I have a handle on the Cyrillic and Greek alphabets. Even though, these days, most people do speak English, and there are translation apps, it helps to know a bit about the local lingo and I enjoy this side of travel immensely.
When did you get the travel bug?
I was lucky enough to participate in a school trip organised by my school (Epsom Girls Grammar School). The trip was for students studying German and it was my ultimate dream trip. As a young girl I had always dreamt about going to Switzerland but to be honest, that’s all I thought it could be at that age – a fantasy. And then, at the age of 15, I found myself on a Swiss mountainside – a real life Heidi-moment! It was a truly eye-opening and fantastic trip, hugely ground-breaking at the time. There were 16 kids, two teachers, many cities and a raft of life-enhancing experiences. We explored Germany (inc. East Germany), Austria, Switzerland and also visited London, Paris, Hong Kong and LA. It planted the travel seed in me, and I’ve never looked back.
Here’s a summary of that trip …In December 1977, at the end of School C exams, we flew out of Auckland International Airport (when it was still part of the current domestic terminal) on a PanAm 747 jumbo jet and arrived in LA for the start of our two-month trip. After exploring Disneyland, we flew to Frankfurt and form there we toured around Germany, Austria and Switzerland. It was winter, it was cold, it was beautiful, but alas we didn’t get the white Christmas we were hoping for in Nurnberg. We visited Christmas markets, we went to galleries, operas and the ballet. We drove to East Berlin through East Germany. We skied in Switzerland, we visited Neuschwanstein in the snow, we had New Year in Munich. Our bus crashed off the autobahn in a blizzard (we were all okay). We stayed mostly in youth hostels and small pensions. We were billeted for two weeks in Dusseldorf where we went to school – and I played golf on a frosty course with my host family. We tried to polish up our German. We then visited Paris and London before returning home via Hong Kong. We arrived back to the newly opened Auckland International Airport with many stories to share and a new level of maturity and worldliness.
I returned home feeling enlightened and everyone realised I had the travel bug big-time! I wanted to return to London as soon as I could and explore more of Europe and the world. That’s exactly what I went on to do – I lived in the UK during the 1980s. And got to know Europe very well indeed!