Updated: Feb 4
Traveling with a Private Driver often Fosters Deep, Authentic and even Life-Changing Connections
Remember when you first heard and understood the story of Aladdin and his magic lamp? Long before it as a Disney movie, it was a fairy tale, read and told again and again -- a favorite of kids and parents alike! Were you as intrigued as I was by the idea of being able to have your every wish come true? I really did "Dream of Genie" long before I ever saw the TV show. And now I work with real-life "genies" granting wishes on a daily basis!
As the Founder and CEO of a private driver-guide service for travels, mainly outside the US, it’s no secret that I have a great appreciation for the “unsung heroes” of the road who provide such excellent travel experiences for their clients. They really are in the business of making dreams come true, and by being "genies of the road," they can transform an adventure abroad from something ordinary -- that may be fraught with worries and problems, to something that is, in every aspect, quite extraordinary -- a carefree and joyous journey with total freedom to do whatever one wishes. It’s really like having the Fairy Godmother pick you up in the beautiful carriage and take you to the ball -- or however that translates into your own personal interpretation of the ultimate experience of a lifetime. Your wish is their command, and they do it all happily, whether it’s racing a train to pick you up at the next stop, just so you can see the view from that vantage point, making you that impossible-to-get reservation at the Michelin star restaurant in the area at the last minute, or climbing onto the beach with you to scour for the best seashells despite their suit, tie and dress shoes. A personal and private driver-guide really doesn’t say “No", especially when he or she is a true “TravelDriver” from TravelDrivers.com.
But beyond all those special things that your driver can and will do for you, there’s a relationship involved in the process -- a truly authentic connection with a knowledgeable local that one has the good fortune to experience in this equation -- and sometimes that relationship can be life-changing. For me, there have been several drivers who, collectively, changed my life in small ways that guided my path to creating this business. But no one really touched me as deeply and in such a transformational way as one particular driver in Bali.
Soft spoken and thoughtful, this deeply spiritual driver, who we call our “Spiritual Guide," first entered my life during my third visit to the enchanted Island. I’d finished my second visit just months before - and that time I was returning after a personal hiaitus of 22 years! Everything was different - me, of course, and the Island as well --changed largely as a result of the tourist influx caused by “Eat Pray Love”. Bali itself had been incredibly healing to me during that second visit after a difficult family tragedy had left me feeling rather broken, and I couldn’t wait to return for some additional self care. A very close friend there had recommended a special experience with fishing boats that was "far from the madding crowd," and she had engaged this driver to take us there, find us accommodations and guide us to the right place at 5 am to witness countless fishermen returning with their catch, all in magical and majestic colorful boats, really mini ships, with elaborate ornamental gilded masts. The vision was breathtaking, and I was the only tourist and only person taking photos. Priceless Experience of a Lifetime! And this person became my friend and regular driver there, continuing to add to my life experience on a daily basis.
Years before, I’d gone through a rough time with simultaneous ovarian and uterine cancers leading to serious surgery and chemo treatments. I was considered “cured” but remained scarred in several ways, including many fears -- some of which I wasn't even aware of. I have always been very drawn to the ocean and had snorkeled often in my youth, but one of the fears that had set in was related to that. I asked him if he could find me a glass bottomed boat to see the beautiful fish on the East side of the Island. He laughed, gently but firmly, saying he certainly would not! We would snorkel, he explained! I protested that it had been years since I’d done it and I was afraid. He was having none of it. He never made me feel embarrassed, ridiculous or "less-than" in any way -- he just knew I was capable of snorkeling again and took it upon himself to show me in his very kind and caring way. Before I knew what was happening, or at least it seemed that way, I was sitting on the shoreline adjusting my mask and snorkel. He joined me so that I felt secure enough and once I was in and viewing all that beautiful sealife, all my fears just melted away and his next problem was simply getting me out after hours and hours of floating in those beautiful waters.
I feel it was this gentle pushing of my self-created boundaries that led me to start believing in the possibility of doing this business, an idea that was already several years old, but continued to be undermined by my own negative self-talk, insisting it was impossible, that I could never do it because I didn’t know how, etc. etc. I know that the act of successfully overcoming this fear of snorkeling had started to chip away at all those fears related to my abilities to do this -my TravelDrivers business. It was such an important first step -- a truly life-changing one made possible by my fortuitous meeting of this particular amazing person and exceptional private driver-guide.
And as I started working in a very serious and focused way towards my goal project, which eventually came to be called “TravelDrivers," it was this "Spiritual Guide" who continuously encouraged me, inspired me and gave me a reason to believe in myself and to just do it. He believed in me, and the time came when he needed more work and therefore needed me as well. Knowing him has been life-changing for me. Through him I not only took hold of this passion that I already knew I had, yet was afraid to recognize, but I also had a very good reason, outside of myself, to pursue it as my life’s purpose.
But don’t just take my word for it when it comes to how transformational these relationships can be. Here’s another story about the life-changing connection between driver and passenger, from renowned Transformational Leader and New York Times best selling author of “Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul” and “Happy for No Reason” fame, Marci Shimoff.
Marci is a friend and mentor to me, having started a powerful “living your best possible life” spiritually-oriented educational and mentoring program called "Your Year of Miracles," which I participated in for several years (and which, along with our “spiritual guide,” gave me the strength, courage and conviction to actually take definitive steps to start this business and really go for it!). Marci told me the story of her own personal driver in India (who is now, happily, one of our own TravelDrivers) who she instantly bonded with. He has such a kind heart and beautiful soul and it was instantly apparent to her and her partner, Sergio, that this driver-guide wanted nothing more than for them to have the most wonderful time in India, and that he was going to do everything in his power to ensure that happened.
In fact, when Marci and Sergio decided to do a “spiritual Indian wedding” ceremony during the trip, he helped them prepare for it and even stepped in as the photographer. They were so grateful to share this special occasion with him and to have his remarkable help, as he went way above and beyond his role as a driver-guide in doing so.
Unfortunately, as soon as the event was over, Marci’s driver got a call and learned that his beloved mother had just had a heart attack and was in intensive care at a hospital 3 hours away. Though Marci and Sergio told him to go back home, he insisted on staying with them and caring for them rather than leaving to go to his Mother’s side. Finally, though, it became urgent that his mother have an important surgery immediately and he had to handle the arrangements, and fill out certain papers. Marci and Sergio had felt so pampered by their now treasured driver-guide that they jumped at the opportunity to help him and stepped in as witnesses for some of his paperwork.
The driver hesitated to accept this offer of help, but Marci and Sergio insisted, and as a result, the surgery was able to be performed in time and the driver’s mother is still thriving to this day!
In this scenario, four lives were forever changed. Marci and Sergio’s, their driver’s and his mother’s. The bond amongst them has continued, as they still text each other with updates and keep one another informed regarding their lives. Such a momentous and fortunate connection will never be forgotten.
Side note: This story also illustrates one of the many ways in which we find our drivers. When trusted friends with taste as discriminating as ours recommend their drivers based on their own exceptional personal experiences with them, we pay attention! Next steps are described on our website's FAQ page.
Of course, there is no guarantee that everyone’s experience spending time traveling with a private tour driver will transform either one of their lives. Nevertheless, we can promise that with our drivers, who are all true “TravelDrivers,” you will be driven and guided by someone who truly cares, leads from the heart and derives great pleasure from making your vacation experience as wonderful as it can possibly be. There is no better compliment to our drivers than to know that their client(s) were exceedingly pleased -- that the service and care their driver took with them was far beyond their expectations. That satisfaction is the best reward our driver-guides could ever receive. And the chances of life-changing, miraculous and authentic connections, and travel dreams coming true, are far greater with this mode of transport than with others such as group tours or car rentals, either of which just adds to the possibility of problems and disappointments.
We look forward to helping you to have a vacation experience that’s straight from a fairy tale -- above and beyond your wildest dreams.