what's a TravelMaven?

Barry Devolin, TravelMaven

A 'maven' (from the Yiddish word 'mevyn') is a person with a deep understanding of a particular subject, built up through many years of practical experience. (Unlike an 'expert' who typically has formal training in their field.)

Mavens are the people you turn to for advice, whether it relates to cars, fashion, computers, musical instruments or travel. In recent years, the term gained much exposure when Malcolm Gladwell explored it at length in his book 'The Tipping Point'.

Barry Devolin's first passion has always been travel. He made his first trip to Europe when he was 15, and has subsequently visited more than 40 countries (does East Germany still count?), 49 American states and 12 Canadian provinces & territories.

In 2015, Barry and his wife Ursula took their kids George and Molly (13 & 11 at the time) on a six month backpacking tour around the world. They visited 19 countries, took 17 flights and stayed in more than 40 places in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Australia. Barry planned every step and stop, and at the time, believed that trip would be the magnum opus of his travel planning life.

In 2018, after a long and successful career in government and academia, Barry launched a new career in the travel industry. His goal is to share his love of travel with everyone he meets, and to show them that it is possible to have amazing travel experiences at affordable prices.

To this end, Barry offers two services through TravelMaven: small group walking tours; and personalized travel planning services. During the summer, Barry is also a Tour Director for DeNureTours, where he specializes in hiking tours.

BarryTravelMaven is an affiliate of Nexion Travel Group (Canada’s largest travel hosting company), where it is licensed and insured under TICO (Travel Industry Council of Ontario).


TravelMaven's quest for simplicity.

TravelMaven tours are based on the belief that simplicity is better than complexity. For example, going to just one destination, taking just one flight, and staying in just one hotel is much simpler (and dare we say more enjoyable) than a whirlwind tour.

For practical reasons, it isn't always possible to limit our tours to one week, one flight or one hotel. However, our goal is always to have fewer rather than more. For example, our one week tours use one or two hotels. Our two week tours use two, or possibly three hotels.

Some of you may remember the 1969 comedy farce "If it's Tuesday, this must be Belgium". This film was based on the crazy idea (common at that time) that all of Europe could be seen in just a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, too many tours are still this way.

Today, many experienced travellers are embracing the idea of "slow travel", taking their time and savouring the places they visit. The TravelMaven philosophy is built on this principle, and on the understanding that one week is plenty of time to explore and experience one place.

Prior to departure, Barry also suggests books and movies that will add to the experience. For example, prior to the PARIS 2019 tour, guests were recommended the historical novel "Paris" by Edward Rutherfurd and the movies "Midnight in Paris" and "The Da Vinci Code" to familiarize them with the city.