It’s catalog season at Classic Journeys, and that means that every year I pack up the family for a few days in central Wisconsin to attend the press check at our printer, and then drive down to Chicago for a weekend with friends and their kids.

For us, it’s the culmination of months of preparation on our annual adventure travel catalog, featuring our cultural walking toursculinary tours and family vacations in over 90 destinations worldwide. Our whole team (tour operations, guest services, creative, marketing and sales, and accounting) comes together for several months to work on the project at various times. And at the end of it all, we spend a couple of sleepless nights at a 1.4 million square foot printing facility watching our catalog zoom along at 40,000 pages per hour on multi-million dollar presses the length of a football field. The goal is to make sure the books look their best and tell the story of traveling in Classic Journeys’ style well. Since this was our 15th annual catalog celebrating international adventure travel, I thought I might have a couple of occasions to reflect about how it all fits into my year. That said, I never thought I’d consider how this trip might be a metaphor for traveling with (or without) Classic Journeys on vacation. Until two weeks ago…

You see, normally I am accompanied by our printing salesman, Paul, who meets us when we arrive in Wisconsin. He takes us around to local landmarks, introduces us to members of his team in manufacturing, creative, quality control, bindery…the whole works. He takes us out to dinner, drives us back and forth to the plant and other meetings, and makes sure everything goes seamlessly. If you’re playing along with me, you can imagine Paul in the role of a Classic Journeys’ guide. Friendly, smart and well-connected.

This year was a little different. Paul’s wife just had a baby and so I suggested that he stay home to attend to his family. I figured I knew my way around Wisconsin and could make everything work smoothly on my own. (In the same way many of us choose to vacation on our own…)

And that’s where the story deviates from a Classic Journey.

You see, I landed only to find that the “color” of the first signatures was ready for approval (in essence the books on press were ready to be proofed) even though I was still about three hours away. That never happened when Paul was with me managing things at the plant. We worked it out, the pressmen were fantastic, and the catalog printed beautifully (even though we ate a hasty dinner of sandwiches from the cafeteria at 1:00 am). The next morning, I woke to drive myself to another of the company’s plants for a meeting with their creative team. I had directions, the address, and my iphone to guide the way. And still I found myself lost in the middle of farmlands, losing time and arriving quite late for my meeting.

Again, locals took pity on me and I was fortunate to be surrounded by friendly and helpful people at our printer. They modified their schedules to accommodate mine, and the meetings went well. But I had to laugh to myself as I drove back to my hotel. I was reminded that whenever I travel with Classic Journeys, I rely on the expertise of our guides, their local connections, how seamlessly they make everything unfold, and how there is no wasted time figuring out where we are going to go, what to do or how to get there.

Group Walking

And in that moment, I vowed to send a special thanks to each of our guides-from Amalfi to Zion-for everything they do on our trips…and to invite Paul on the next press check with me…

If you’ve had a great moment where you were lost…or found…drop me a line at I’d enjoy hearing from you.