Luxury vacations to refresh your soul.
The name of Sheila Tomlinson’s company, Spirited Travel, which offers luxury “specialty tour experiences that inspire” is significant. Tomlinson, who is unveiling a new group travel offering to the community, views travel as a spiritual experience. It is her personal passion, and it has grown into a business that is more about love of travel and service to the community than profit. “I am at a place in my life now where I am able to do what I want to do, what I feel I’m meant to do, follow my dreams, which is to share this tour operator service with the community.”
“The whole sense of traveling, being away from your day to day life… you’re more alive, more receptive to everything, more open to wonder ‘what is my divine purpose, why am I here?’ I believe I really feel that when we pause and take in the world around us we are much more receptive to be inspired and to inspire others…to figure out how we fit into our world.”
Tomlinson has a lifetime of travel under her belt. Born and raised in Long Beach, California, her parents would regularly embark with the family on cross-country trips to visit relatives. Since then, Tomlinson has traveled to every state in the U.S. Continuing to travel into adulthood with two close friends, the trio was nicknamed “Charlie’s Angels” at a resort in the Bahamas, and the name has stuck. Signature photos from various meticulously-planned trips all over the world show the three friends in the Charlie’s Angel pose.
Tomlinson was first exposed to the motor coach tour concept of travel when she traveled on a Cavalier tour to New York City with her mother in law in 1999. This was her first experience traveling in a group as a community. “I loved it,” she said, “and I thought, ‘we need that here in Northern Virginia, but we don’t have it.’”
Tomlinson realized that her skills gained in the workplace in years of professional services and project management in government contracting positioned her perfectly for travel planning. The complexity of the trips Tomlinson plans is daunting. They are huge projects, involving 80 hours or more of behind-the-desk planning and countless hours of travel in preparation. Therein lies the value of Tomlinson’s service. With the internet and all the travel sites, anyone can plan a vacation. But the time and background knowledge it takes for that kind of extensive research is frequently prohibitive, especially for those less web-savvy.
Tomlinson’s connections through industry knowledge and membership in professional travel organizations serve her well in planning the trips and obtaining value for her guests, which she calls a labor of love. “As a group, we have access to a whole lot more amenities than you would as an individual,” she said. With these organizations behind her, she can negotiate lower costs, upgrades, and luxury amenities with hotels, restaurants, and airlines that are only available to members. She is proud to be a member of the National Association of Career Travel Agents (NACTA) and both the Signature Travel and Travel Leaders Networks® consortiums, as well as an affiliate of Nexion Travel, a host travel agency.
If you’ve planned a vacation, you know there’s a lot of time and detail that goes into the planning. There’s a lot of work involved in making reservations for hotels and transportation and arranging transfers. The second part is then you have to worry about everything… making connections, keeping track of your bags, and when you get to your destination you are not familiar with the area, you don’t know your way around… you end up wasting time looking at maps and figuring out where to go instead of enjoying a mint julep or appreciating the beautiful fountains and architecture. With Spirited Travel, you don’t have to think at all. You just show up.”
What Tomlinson is offering is completely stress-free, luxury travel. Imagine a vacation in which every aspect is taken care of, every detail addressed. After parking your car right here in Haymarket, you are whisked away with your group on a comfort coach to your destination… all your transportation has been arranged, reservations have been made, transfers scheduled, there is nothing to worry about. Your bags are taken care of and will be delivered to you upon reaching your destination. You are accompanied by a tour director — Tomlinson herself (and sometimes her husband) accompanies every group — who has meticulously designed this vacation for her guests to experience the very best the destination area has to offer. Your vacation is insured, and every cost, all the way down to taxes, gratuities, and most meals, is included to make the stressful details of travel nonexistent.
“This is red carpet all the way,” she added. The groups stay in luxury hotels and travel in deluxe motorcoaches with reclining seats, flat screens, and wifi. There is no opportunity for disappointment in Tomlinson’s tours. Every single experience her guests will enjoy on their trip has been personally evaluated by Tomlinson herself, all the way down to the pretzels from the street vendors in Lancaster, PA. She has stayed in every hotel, eaten in every restaurant, ridden on the coach, flown with the airlines, and toured all the destinations that she plans for her guests. Nothing is left unchartered. Tomlinson says, “You are getting the value and cost savings of a group rate, with additional amenities, upgrades and benefits. But more than cost savings, it’s about value. If you want a real experience which has been hand-picked by someone who has been there and done it, then you come to me.”
Spirited Travel’s 2018 itinerary starts off with “Lancaster Sights and Sounds,” featuring a production of JESUS, departing on May 4. This inaugural vacation is followed by other offerings every month such as “Patriot’s Holiday” to Gettysburg and Philadelphia in July; “Crabs and Maritime” to Annapolis and St. Michaels in August; “Tastes and Lyrics” to Nashville, Memphis, and New Orleans in September; “Southern Grace” to Wilmington, Savannah, and Charleston in October; and “Christmas Markets” to Austria, Germany, and Switzerland in November, in time for Christmas shopping. Custom tours for small groups or businesses are available.